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Review: Megadeth Risk one of the worst albums in the history of heavy metal music

Updated on February 5, 2018

A photo of the CD Risk

The album is appropriately titled because it was a risk that did not work out.
The album is appropriately titled because it was a risk that did not work out. | Source

The album Risk is a risk taken by the band that did not work out

The band Megadeth was already on a downward spiral as a band with the album Cryptic Writings in 1997, easily one of the poorest efforts of this band. In 1999, the band released the album Risk which is a total kind of experimental album and different from even Countdown to Extinction. Risk represents one of the worst albums in heavy metal (at least it has been that way for me for a long time). There are two songs that we could classify as “good” in the musical sense. They are the very heavy Prince of Darkness and the song Ecstasy.

Risk is an experimental kind of heavy metal album that is just flawed from the beginning

By 1999, the band was a shadow of its former self. Nick Menza was no longer a part of the band being replaced by Jimmy Degrasso on drums. As a music fan, I wonder how it is possible that one of the most famous American bands does so well to start its career only to have such a steep drop in songwriting quality. It is one thing to release an experimental album but it is one thing to take a risk like that and have it not work out. It was a risk to release this album and sadly, it is another one of Megadeth’s weaker albums. From the first song in the album, I got the sense that something was really going to be wrong about this album. And I was proven correct.

A photo of the back of the album cover for Risk

The re-mastered version of the album has a few bonus tracks in it. The cover also symbolizes the risk that the band took by making this album. They took that risk and ended up with one of their weakest albums ever.
The re-mastered version of the album has a few bonus tracks in it. The cover also symbolizes the risk that the band took by making this album. They took that risk and ended up with one of their weakest albums ever.

The song Insomnia is indicative of how poor of an album Risk is

The first song Insomnia is a very cheesy attempt to describe someone that cannot get himself to go back to sleep because he is trying to bury his past. He is feeling guilty because of the bad judgement he used and the mistakes that he made. The song can also be an indication of Mustaine’s own troubled past. The song is a total flop! The non-re-mastered version of the song starts with some weird sounds followed by a violin before getting into a song that tries to be heavy. Meanwhile, Dave Mustaine keeps on singing that he can’t sleep. I don’t think that this is the way that Marty Friedman wanted to leave the band. Maybe that was a good thing that Friedman left because he might have known that Megadeth was declining as a band.

The song called Insomnia (not re-mastered)

Megadeth and their decline in the 1990's in brief

By this point they had three straight sub-par albums and even though they would sort of redeem themselves with 2001’s The World Needs a Hero, they finished the decade of the 1990’s on a very weak note.

Weakest album in the career of Megadeth

Which one of these albums is the worst in the career of Megadeth?

See results

Risk has only one very good song: Prince of Darkess

The next song Prince of Darkness is one of the better songs in this album and it is about what Satan has tried to do to mankind. The short introduction called Arena leads into the song called Crush Em. The song describes the kind of environment that is possible when there is a sort of wrestling match in an arena. This is one of the worst songs in the band’s career. The song Breadline is about someone that has no car, no job, and he is now homeless even though he thinks that his life is just fine even though it is not. The song is average at best. The song called I’ll Be There has a guitar tone similar to what the band used back in 1986. However, this does not really make the song good. The song describes lovers that have always been there for each other even when the skies have been dark and there has not been any sunshine (hope). When there is true love, this true love is what can get a couple through both good times and bad. To be honest, Risk is one of the most uninspiring albums that this writer has heard and it will never be as good as St. Anger. At least St. Anger has a musical technicality and ferocity to it that shows that it is a true heavy metal album. The song Seven is another bad attempt by Megadeth to sound heavy but they fail miserably. The song is about someone that has succumbed to greed, gluttony, and selfishness. Risk is still one of the worst albums in heavy metal history and it was the band’s weakest point until 2013. Time: the Beginning and Time: the End are two songs after what has been a really disappointing listening experience and they are songs about the fact that time is our most precious resource and we cannot afford to waste it. The song called Ecstasy makes reference to the same drug that can have detrimental effects on the body. The song has only one very good song in Prince of Darkness while the rest of them are either poor or just average. How good is the album Risk in 2018?

Final grade: 60 out of 100 points (D)

After this update, Risk is still poor lagging behind Cyptic Writings and Youthanasia.

The song called Prince of Darkness

© 2017 Ara Vahanian


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    • CELEBSFAN78 profile image

      Ara Vahanian 9 months ago from LOS ANGELES

      Gavin Hardy: I took another listen to Risk and I would say that we can include the song Ecstasy as a good song in the musical sense. Risk is not as bad as I had written it before and it is certainly better than other heavy metal albums such as The Great Southern Trendkill which is a real embarrassment! I hope I will like Risk someday who knows?

    • profile image

      Gavin Hardy 11 months ago

      Your welcome. I view St Anger by Metallica in the same way as Risk. Having said that: There are those albums by certain 'vintage' Metal/Hard Rock acts that a considered poor by comparison with their other work. Some of these albums I love:

      Iron Maiden - X Factor and/or Virtual XI.

      Aerosmith - Rock In A Hard Place.

      Metallica - Load.

      I think its safe to say it takes a lot for me to hate an Album by any act I'm a fan of.

      Megadeth would have to release an album consisting of music played on children's toy instruments with lyrics sung in a comedy voice for me to really 'Hate' it.

      Do you think Risk would have been considered at least 'Very good' if Megadeth were simply a hard rock outfit that appeared in the mid 90s, with Risk perhaps being their 1st or 2nd album?

      Just a theory.

    • CELEBSFAN78 profile image

      Ara Vahanian 11 months ago from LOS ANGELES

      That's very interesting that even the albums that are your least favorite are still kept. Provided of course that they are not really bad. I'll be following you on Hubpages. I'm really impressed that you've shown so much interest in my article about Megadeth's Risk album. Who knows I may like the album more at a future date. That's the way I felt about Metallica's St. Anger album because I really didn't like that one at first but after many, many listens I grew to really like it. it may happen with this album or not but Megadeth still has several quality albums. Thanks so much for your interest in my work!

    • profile image

      Gavin Hardy 11 months ago

      It isn't one of my favorites. Its probably safe to say its in the least favorite category of albums I own. However; albums I own that fit this least favorite category are still ones that I quite enjoy. Any album I've bought that I disliked intently doesn't get kept.

    • CELEBSFAN78 profile image

      Ara Vahanian 11 months ago from LOS ANGELES

      Gavin: I remember seeing the video for the song Train of Consequences in the US on a channel called MTV way back in 1994. It is impressive that Youthanasia did so well in the UK music charts. I did not know this. Is Risk one of your favorite albums?

    • profile image

      Gavin Hardy 11 months ago

      Your absolutely right. I remember seeing the music video for 'Train Of Consequences' on the 'Chart Show', a then long running UK music show shown on Saturday mornings in the UK, watched by millions.

      Youthanasia and its predecessor Countdown to Extinction both made the UK top 10.

      Quite impressive considering they are/were both Heavy Metal albums despite their more toned down sound compared with the first 4 albums. Their music was still considered too heavy by the pop/rock crowd majority of course.

      My point being that they found less success when they toned down their sound even more so to try to appeal to a crowd that doesn't like heavy metal. At least in the UK. Ironic really?

    • CELEBSFAN78 profile image

      Ara Vahanian 11 months ago from LOS ANGELES

      Actually Gavin, Megadeth started going towards a more mainstream style starting with 1994's Youthanasia album. But of course, I though that Youthanasia was the time where the band started to decline musically for a while. They did redeem themselves with the album The World Needs a Hero in 2001. Thanks for keeping this discussion going about an album that is considered as one of Megadeth's weakest albums. The song Prince of Darkness is how they should write a song. Unfortunately, they did not continue in that manner. Overall, Megadeth has been a decent band with their best years being between 1986-1992.

    • profile image

      Gavin Hardy 11 months ago

      Another overlooked aspect to the album being both a commercial and critical flop is I think due to the band going for a more ' commercial/mainstream sound' in the hope of having hit singles. Risk was released in an era that would have the Dixie Chicks at number 1 one week, followed by N-Sync the next, then Marilyn Manson, then Radiohead, then the Beatles with their '1' hits album. There was no longer a unified 'mainstream sound' by the late 90s. They would have faired much better if they had kept the heaviness they were associated with. A public with eclectic tastes would have accepted this. The commercial success and Grammy win for the Dystopia album is proof of this.

    • CELEBSFAN78 profile image

      Ara Vahanian 11 months ago from LOS ANGELES

      Gavin Hardy: thanks a lot for your well thought out and analyzed comment. I am glad that you are able to listen to the album Risk all the way through because I can't. You are one brave person! I do agree that the production in the album is decent but it is just that the songs are really lacking in the hooks and catchiness department. Thanks again for your thoughts on the album!

    • profile image

      Gavin Hardy 11 months ago

      I quite like Risk. I will admit it pales in comparison with their best work, but there are aspects of the album that I believe make it far from the sonic disaster its painted out to be.

      Positive Points:

      Good production.

      Clean sounding Mix.

      Use of atmospheric musical interludes and sounds (The 'eastern' sounding violin intro on Insomnia, the slow build up in Prince Of Darkness, whispered backing vocals in The Doctor is Calling being some examples)

      A great guitar sound, Well recorded drums.

      Pretty good arrangements on many tracks. The songs are quite well structured for the most part.

      Negative points:

      Too much compression at the mastering stage. Particularly on the 2004 remix.

      Not enough 'Heavy' sounding songs that would have contrasted nicely with the lighter efforts.

      The blatant 'Sports Arena' anthem Crush Em, its use in 'Universal Soldier- part 4' - a low budget straight to DVD bargain bin film only serves to make the song and the band look 'cheap'.

      David Elleffson's diminished role overall.

      A few more flashy guitar solos and drum fills would have made it a bit more 'Megadeth' so to speak.

      I can listen to this album quite easily all the way through.

    • CELEBSFAN78 profile image

      Ara Vahanian 11 months ago from LOS ANGELES

      Right. The difference between Cryptic Writings and Risk is not a drastic swing but as I said, Megadeth really dropped off as a band especially after 1992. I personally think that Rust in peace and Countdown to Extinction are their 2 best albums from the 1990's.

    • Fullerman5000 profile image

      Ryan Fuller 11 months ago from Louisiana, USA

      Well one thing I always give credit to Megadeth for is they never really changed their style and still prove to be very heavy. I felt that this happen swayed away from that style a bit, but it wasn't a drastic swing.

    • CELEBSFAN78 profile image

      Ara Vahanian 11 months ago from LOS ANGELES

      Ryan Fuller: thank you for your comment. May I ask why you think Risk is a good album? Is it the production or do you like the songs?

    • Fullerman5000 profile image

      Ryan Fuller 11 months ago from Louisiana, USA

      This is one of my least favorite from them. Still a good album but definitely not up there with my favorite. I love Rust in Peace, Countdown to Extinction and Youthanasia. Peace Sells is a good one too.

    • Coffeequeeen profile image

      Louise Powles 11 months ago from Norfolk, England

      I'm not really into this sort of music, so don't really know the band. It's an interesting article though. =)


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