Metal as I have known it has changed in recent years. Growing up, there were a few bands that you scrapped together your money to purchase brand new offerings the very day a new album was released. Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Metallica, Megadeth, Anthrax, and Slayer. All other bands, you waited to hear from your buddies how the record was, you bootlegged a copy or you went to Ralph's Records and Tapes and hoped someone turned in a decent used copy for you to purchase or in my case use your stealth skills to acquire said item of your affection.
Maiden and Priest, these days, release things every now and again to satisfy older fans but you know exactly what you are going to get with their releases. After almost thirty years of releasing music it is hard to not repeat yourselves. But mainly they are stuck on perpetual tour as they have pretty much made all the money that Metal Gods need. Basically, they see tours now not so much as a world domination thing as a way to take a vacation and see the sights for the first time with sober, none bloodshot eyes.
Metallica, the once-bastion of all things metal. The band that all speed/thrash metal bands have been measured up against ever since their original creation in 1982. And I guess I have to call them Hall of Fame members, but honestly that actually sticks in my throat a bit. Yes, this is the same band that I have dedicated four tattoos on my body towards. But let's face it, they weren't the same after Cliff's death, their last really great album was made up of hold over material that Cliff had started writing prior to his untimely death.
Slayer, let's face it once everyone figured out that they weren't really Satanist, and that they didn't actually want their fans out there committing random acts of violence, they all but lost their relevance to new music. Their albums now are basically retreads of what they have offered before. Kerry King continues to shred the guitar, but his guitar playing at times feels completely undirected, as if even he is completely uncommitted to the piece of music they are working on.
Anthrax, the original east coast contingent on the metal scene. The band you can thank for the popularity of The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles in the eighties. They have so many personnel issues and apparently don't know how to keep a lead singer that they have been regulated to also-ran status in the metal scene. Which, given the fact that they were the reason for the "Rap/Metal" bands that sprung in the 90's after their legendary "I Am The Man," single did so well in the metal underground is so very disappointing.
Then there is Megadeth, Dave Mustaine's brain child. Dave Mustaine, the Christian, who takes on anything and anyone without fear. The guy that seems to be pissed off at the whole world at the exact same time. The guy that was this metal generations 5th Beatle. The guy that was kicked out of Metallica right as they were on the verge of being on the cusp of being Metal Gods! Honestly, if you renamed the band to Mustaine over Megadeth it would be much more fitting. In the fifteen non-live albums released by them there has never been any single member that has remained the same throughout, accept Dave.
So this year we have the titans of thrash going at it yet again head to head. Normally I would say that this bodes well for all of us with wrecked necks and whiplash. But for those of us whose loyalties lay in both the Metallica and Megadeth camps, not so much. Like the diehard metal head that I have been since the eighties, I bought Death Magnetic the day it was released. While it was not a complete return to the days of yore that many fans had pleaded for, at least it wasn't Load (of crap) Part 3. Tolerable would be the one word that I will use to describe it. At least I have my five minute plus songs at long last.
My youngest step daughter got me Endgame for my birthday this week. All I can say is that I am completely ashamed that someone had to buy this cd for me thirteen days after its release. Dave does an excellent job of satisfying the original fans of his, and the new fans that have sprung up to refill the arenas that Megadeth is going to be packing on the strength of this album.
Song Listing and Review:
Dialectic Chaos: Old school fans of Megadeth will instantly think of "So Far, So Good ... So What?" This instrumental leads nicely into the 2nd track, just like on the classic 3rd album.
This Day We Fight!: This has a great riff to it where you have a feeling that it hit the "So far, So Good ... So What?" era, and the riffs are tight, the vocals are spot on and it just keeps going strong. Coming in just shy of 3:30 it seems a bit short, but the speed keeps it from actually losing any ground.
44 Minutes: A song about a bank heist? Something that even I find difficult to completely comprehend in this genre of music. I sometimes get the feeling like people challenge Dave to write a song about the oddest things to see if he can do it, convincingly. He does it here, yet again!
1,320': Musically, this is one of the strongest songs on the album. This song reminds me of "502" and "Moto Psycho", and maybe a little "Into the Lungs of Hell" or "High Speed Dirt." The band changes the riffs around a few times, and unlike some other bands' new albums (*COUGHING* METALLICA'S DEATH MAGCRAPTIC) they keep the tempo going and they don't disappoint. A song that is just shy of the 4 min mark it just fits the album as a whole.
Bite the Hand: One of my all time favorite songs by Megadeth is "Hook In Mouth". That song was Dave being pissed off at the government and the PMRC. For this song, just drop the PMRC from the hit list. The intro of the song is chunky, almost marching, like ... as you make your march on Washington to bite the hand that is feeding you lies!
Bodies: There is a section in the middle part of this song that I swear sounds like "While My Guitar Gently Weeps." It reminds me a little of "The Scorpion" or perhaps "She-Wolf" music and lyric wise. It is much more Megadeth Groove than it is just hyper-space fast. Something off of the more recent albums than off of the older ones.
Endgame: The title track of the album, based upon many things for Dave. He stated in an interview with the legendary Cindy Scull a couple of weeks ago, that the title reflects not only a movie from film maker Alex Jones, "Endgame" is also supposedly a document that President Bush signed into law. The title "Endgame" is also a reference to the fact that Dave's contractual commitments have been met with his record company. The song itself feels like the song "Youthanasia," about 3/4 of the way in, we revisit several of the musical feels established on Killing Is My Business? And Business Is Good, except updated for 2009. It's an intense ride, and despite the gritted teeth of Mustaine's vocal delivery you can kind of imagine him grinning at how much fun it must be to play a track like this.
The Hardest Part of Letting Go...Sealed with a Kiss: A song that is going to make my wife tear up thinking about is "A Tout Le Monde," only because I want it played at my memorial. It is a song that I think Dave was simply brilliant in writing. Musically and lyrically the song is just simply too touching to not list on your bucket list. People forget that Dave is so talented that he can actually slow a song down without taking away from the message of the song when he sings. No, this is not "A Tout Le Monde," Version 3. This song is closer to "I Promise," or perhaps a version of "I'll get Even," with a touch of orchestration in it. I think that this is also officially the longest titled song ever penned by Dave
Head Crusher: This is the first single that was released prior to the album's release date. For some reason when I hear the intro to this song I instantly think of "Crush 'Em," or "Gears of War." Again Dave's sick and twisted sense of humor can be felt in this one lyrically. But I have also heard people say that this one actually had to grow on them a bit. Perhaps, that shows us as fans not caring much for the 'newer' Megadeth offerings over the older pieces?
How the Story Ends: OK, we now have irrefutable evidence that Dave is a nerd at heart as this song is clearly written about the Lord of The Rings. Now if you think that means there will be Hobbits skipping around playing pan flutes, you have obviously gotten off at the wrong cross road on the internet super hi-way and did not realize that you were reading a review about MEGADETH! Ya goober! Shawn Drover the drummer on this album, really shines with the heavy syncopation on this track. There is a touch of "Tornado of Souls," in the solo, but a very solid track that leaves you bobbing your head.
The Right to go Insane: Now for the reason that Dave and I get along so well. (Well if he knew that I was alive he and I would get along very well because of this coming fact). I think we are both completely convinced that we are going insane. Or perhaps it is the people that are around us that are going insane and we are the only two sane people left in the world! "Sweating Bullets, Insomina," and a myriad more 'Deth songs feel like this one, but Dave presents it in a new a clever way, yet again. Dave constructs another song that delves into the psyche of someone that isn't convinced that the people around them are really there.
All in all, ENDGAME is an incredible piece of musical history. I honestly feel that this will usurp any attention that Metallica was going to garner this year. The production value on this album is spot on, and this once again shows that Megadeth knows how to remain true to themselves, put together an incredible album from beginning to end, and not disappoint old and new fans alike.
In closing, the MEGADETH for the Rock and Roll Hall Fame Campaign support line forms directly to the right, thank you!