Megadeth: Endgame (2009)

Megadeth endgame-cover-300x300

–MEGADETH: Endgame (2009)

It was with a feeling of slight trepidation that I received the news updates about Megadeth’s new release: Endgame. On one hand, Dave Mustaine has written oodles of amazing songs with Megadeth, and their 1990 Rust In Peace thrashterpiece ranks as one of my top-10 favorite albums of all time. Afterwards, 1992’s Countdown to Extinction and 1994’s Youthanasia were both solid if more commercial and stripped-down affairs. Since then, Mustaine’s output has been quite the mixed bag, from failed stylistic changes to watered-down comeback attempts to a severe arm injury and his newfound obsession with born-again Christianity and unleashing foaming-at-the-mouth rants on internet message boards. His last release, 2004’s United Abominations, was a decidedly mixed bag, featuring some exhilaratingly awesome tracks but was also plagued by too many lethargic filler moments.

This time around, Mustaine has recruited ex-Jag Panzer/Killing Time guitarist and supreme-diarrhea-shredder-extraordinaire Chris Broderick to fill the No. 2 guitar slot, and what a No. 2 he is. Sure, Broderick’s constant warp-speed, neck-pickup sweeps and breathless noodling can feel a tad tedious over the course of an album, but his obnoxious lead guitar style is well-suited for Megadeth’s intricate, technical brand of metal. Drummer Shawn Drover and bassist James Lomenzo (ex-Black Label Society/White Lion) round out what is perhaps Megadeth’s most lethal lineup to date. So a potent pedigree like this SHOULD amount to a monster of a new Megadeth CD, right? That is correct!

After about a half dozen listens to this point, I can safely assert that Endgame is, without a doubt, Megadeth’s best album in years. I venture even that this is their best record since Rust In Peace, although RIP remains the ultimate amalgamation of speed, aggression, technicality and melody that Megadeth will likely produce. Although there is nothing quite to the utmost speed-metal quality level of “Holy Wars…” and “Hangar 18” here, Endgame features solid songs throughout, forsaking the annoying filler tracks that have been all too present on Megadeth’s last several releases. On Endgame the songs are concise and punishing, absolutely lethal in their ability to a deliver speedy and crushing thrash without neglecting catchy vocal hooks and guitar melodies. Finally we once again have a total package of a Megadeth album, and for that I have to salute Mr. Mustaine with some major horns.

Lyrically, Mustaine once again wears his emotions and (especially) his politics on his sleeve, espousing his thoughts on warmongers (“This Day We Fight”), armed bank robbers, Bonnie and Clyde-style (“44 Minutes“), his negative opinions of the last American administration’s policies (“Endgame”) and even lost love (“The Hardest Part of Letting Go…/Sealed With A Kiss.” The lyrics run a wide gamut of topics, but they are consistently decipherable and intriguing. From a musical standpoint, Endgame is an extremely compelling listen, from the knockout 1-2 punch of opening instrumental “Dialectic Chaos,” with its speedy tempo and melodic lead guitar interplay, and the thrilling thrash juggernaut “This Day We Fight,” to the satisfying mid-tempo closers “How The Story Ends” and “The Right to Go Insane.” “44 Minutes” is an accessible song with a gorgeously melodic chorus, while tracks like “Bite The Hand,” “Bodies” and the title track offer alternately fast and crushing moments while retaining memorable hooks.

My criticisms for Endgame are limited, but it is still not a perfect album. Mustaine’s raspy snarl works well enough on most tracks, but on the ballad “The Hardest Part of Letting Go” he comes across as a sort of deranged Muppet (a little like Gonzo maybe?). Some of the songs in the middle of the disc, such as “1,320,” “Bite The Hand” and “Bodies” come across as a bit too concise, like they end a minute too soon before their final musical ideas can come to full fruition. Finally, the nearly incessant shred guitar rampages via Mustaine and Broderick can become slightly overwhelming after 11 tracks. Perhaps some more equilibrium between sound and space would benefit the ’Deth boys next time around.

But who am I kidding? Endgame still rocks hard, so pick it up soon and support Thrash Godfather No. 2, wild eccentricities and all.

–Tracklisting: 1.) Dialectic Chaos 2.) This Day We Fight 3.) 44 Minutes 4.) 1,320 5.) Bite The Hand 6.) Bodies 7.) Endgame 8.) The Hardest Part of Letting Go…Sealed With a Kiss 9.) Head Crusher 10.) How the Story Ends 11.) The Right to Go Insane

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~ by jonnyboyrocker on September 30, 2009.

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