Dave Mustaine might have turned 50, and might have found God, but he’s not reaching for the pipe and slippers yet. After he and Megadeth were suddenly rejuvenated by the masterclass in thrash that was 2009’s ‘Endgame‘, they return, with Dave still angry as ever, with a cunningly-titled 13th album that proves that Megadeth still reign supreme above the majority of metal bands, even if ‘Th1rt3een’, as I’m about to describe, is a little hit and miss at times.
Megadeth’s thirteenth studio album starts off on a mission, with the solo fest that previously tested Guitar Hero fans, ‘Sudden Death’, and the lead single, ‘Public Enemy No. 1’, which, had it been recorded at their peak in the early 90s, would have been hailed as a classic ‘Deth track. However, it also signifies at a groove-laden approach, which benefits and hinders the album at the same time.
Much of the opening exchanges follow the groove-thrash track, giving returning bassist Dave Ellefson plenty of room to get his bass to the fore, though that said, this approach isn’t giving the enjoyable shredfest that took place at times on previous album ‘Endgame‘, and results in some patchy work in places – ‘Guns, Drugs & Money’ in particular just feels lacklustre. Thankfully, the pedal is floored again for ‘Never Dead’, where the classic shred tone that Megadeth make their own appears again, and songs like ‘Fast Lane’ and ‘Wrecker’, presenting itself as a venomous ode to a woman scorned, are quality songs, despite their throwaway lyrics, thanks to some phenomenal guitar interplay from Mustaine and fellow guitarist Chris Broadrick. The slower approach doesn’t always prove to be a burden, picking up as the album draws to its close, particularly on ‘Black Swan’ and the closer, the semi-autobiographical(?) ’13’, is quite simply incredible.
Josh Haun of the metal zine That’s How Kids Die stated in his review of ‘Th1rt3en‘ (recommended reading) the pointless nature of comparing new albums by legendary metal acts such as Megadeth to their considered classic works, a notion I completely understand and support. There is no point expecting 50-year old Dave Mustaine to go all out for another ‘Peace Sells…But Who’s Buying?‘, and the sooner the fickle Metallica fans stop comparing everything to their first four albums or complaining about similar acts being supposedly over the hill the better. They grew up a long time ago and likely don’t have the same world viewpoint they had thirty years ago.
All things considered, that still won’t make ‘Th1rt3en‘ eligible for classic status, as it simply isn’t up to that standard owing to a couple of bad apples, a few dodgy lyrics, and ultimately being unable to meet the bar set by ‘Endgame‘. Other than that, its another solid return from Mustaine and Megadeth, arguably faring better than any of the Big Four in terms of critical reception at the moment, and you can’t see where this journey ends for them, so long as business is still good.