Megadeth: Th1rt3en (Album Review)
By Aniruddh "Andrew" Bansal
Release Date: November 1st 2011
Review Date: November 3rd, 2011
There was a time when bands like Led Zeppelin, Iron Maiden and Black Sabbath used to release a new album every year, and in some cases, two albums within the same year. That period of prolific album releases is long gone, and now it's normal to be made to wait three, four or even five years for a new album, specially from bands that have been around for a while. Megadeth's twelfth studio release "Endgame", which also marked Chris Broderick's debut on guitar, came out just over two years ago, and even though the band could not perform much of that album on the road mainly due to the extended Rust In Peace 20th anniversary tour, it's refreshing to see them put together another new album in such a short period. This new album is called "Th1rt3en", and is now available in stores everywhere.
As the title would suggest, the album has 13 tracks, and welcomes back David Ellefson on bass, who is featuring on a studio album for the first time since the 2001 release "The World Needs A Hero". The album starts off with "Sudden Death", which is actually a track that was released last year for the Guitar Hero game and as a single on iTunes. But, I buy music that comes out in physical form rather than digitally, and I've never played Guitar Hero. So this is really the first time I'm getting to listen to this song. It sounds absolutely perfect for a game like that, with plenty of guitar shredding and solos. It also serves as a great start to this album and sets the tone for what's to follow, much like "Dialectic Chaos/This Day We Fight" did for Endgame.
That blistering opening tune gives way to "Public Enemy No. 1", a song released as a single last month, and I'm sure everyone has heard it already. I have to admit, I didn't like it when I first heard it via a live recording posted on YouTube. That turned out to be a mistake, because upon listening to the actual studio version, I was able to appreciate it much more. And having seen the band perform it at the Jimmy Kimmel Live mini-concert last Monday, it has grown on me even further. The song maintains a firm grip on the listener, and the lyrics are easy to follow. It represents the whole album really well and will definitely stay in Megadeth's set list on upcoming tours.
This is followed by "Whose Life (Is It Anyways?)", which picks up the tempo quite a bit, and offers more in terms of guitar solos and trade-offs between Mustaine and Broderick. The delightful guitar work in this tune should satisfy every Megadeth fan, and in a live setting this would be greeted with lots of head-banging and air-guitar. The next two tracks "We The People" and "Guns, Drugs & Money" are what I would describe as hard rock tunes, focusing more on the lyrics and the main riff rather than the solos. Having said that, these songs contribute a lot to the album as they break up the flow for a short while and prevent the album from hitting a plateau.
"Never Dead" speeds things up again. This was originally written for a game of the same name. It builds up rather nicely, starting off with a quiet, eerie intro section and then exploding into life. Just like the opening tune, this one has an abundance of riffs and solos, and I don't think anyone should have a problem with that. Next comes "New World Order", a song that was written more than 20 years ago, as a demo track for Countdown To Extinction. It's been re-arranged, re-touched and presented as part of this album, and I find this extremely interesting because it fits perfectly with the brand new tunes, keeping up with the vibe created by the album so far.
Megadeth has released race-themed songs in the past, songs like "High Speed Dirt" and "1,320", and the next song "Fast Lane" carries on with this tradition. Musically, it's dark, heavy and mid-tempo, and grows on you with every listen. The following track "Black Swan" is another one that has previously seen a release. It was part of the Megadeth fanclub pre-order edition of United Abominations. It's new version fits very well with the rest of this album and justifies inclusion. "Wrecker", on the other hand, is a brand new tune that possesses more of the hard rock edge that was evident in tracks #4 and 5, but it has its fair share of highly enjoyable solos as well, making it one of the best tunes of the album.
"Millenium Of The Blind", originally written in 1991 and released as a Youthanasia bonus track in 2004, resurfaces as track #11 on this album. This is a slow one, and adds yet another dimension to this album. While Mustaine's deep vocals dominate the song, the music is very well crafted. "Deadly Nightshade" comes next. I enjoy the fact that Ellefson's bass is more audible on this one than it is on any other song here. The tune was written at some point in the mid-90s, but unlike the other "re-releases" on this album, this one has a completely different feel to it, reminiscent of early Megadeth. The bass sound proves it, and the guitar solos are very clearly straight out of the Marty Friedman-era. And finally, the the slow and epic title song brings the album to a rather intense end.
My favorite tracks at this point are Public Enemy No. 1, New World Order, Wrecker and Deadly Nightshade, while the others are growing on me fast. This album does sound like the next logical step from Endgame in terms of the musical style, but it carries an early 90's Megadeth vibe for the most part. Playing Rust In Peace in its entirety for an entire year most definitely has something to do with why Th1rt3en sounds a bit like the follow-up to that album. Many of the detractors and so-called critics were expecting this to be a sub-par album because of the extremely short time frame they completed it in, but the band has proved them wrong and done a brilliant job with Th1rt3en. Mustaine's vocals sound consistently good, the guitar work is nothing short of amazing, and the rhythm section of David Ellefson and Shawn Drover keeps things heavy and solid throughout the 57-and-a-half minutes of the album.
As a Megadeth fan, this album does not disappoint me at all, and I'm sure most other fans would agree. A solid effort, without a doubt.
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