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Megadeth – Youthanasia [Review]

Youthanasia

Megadeth – Youthanasia
1994, Capitol Records

1. “Reckoning Day”
2. “Train of Consequences”
3. “Addicted to Chaos”
4. “A Tout le Monde”
5. “Elysian Fields”
6. “The Killing Road”
7. “Blood of Heroes”
8. “Family Tree”
9. “Youthanasia”
10. “I Thought I Knew It All”
11. “Black Curtains”
12. “Victory”

Produced by Max Norman and Dave Mustaine

Yes, I know there are many, many Megadeth fans out there who will say that Megadeth was at their best during the 1980’s with 1990’s Rust In Peace serving as their magnum opus. As great as those years and all of those albums were, I disagree in regards to that era being the “best”. 1992’s Countdown to Extinction began Dave Mustaine’s quest to become accepted in the mainstream and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. Youthansia continued down the same road. If Countdown… was the blueprint, Youthansia was the finished masterpiece.

Honestly, “Black Curtains” is the only weak link in the bunch. The rest is 11 tracks of hooks, melody and rock/metal greatness: the hammering “Reckoning Day”, the chugging “Train of Consequences”, the dark “Family Tree”, the popular semi-ballad “A Tout le Monde”, “Victory” name-checks previous Megadeth songs and “I Thought I Knew It All and mythology-fueled “Elysian Fields” are two of my favorite ‘deth songs of all time.

See, this is the Megadeth I first became exposed to, so it’s my preference over their ’80s thrash/speed sound. I love the thrash/speed metal they previously had used but I think Megadeth is at their best when Dave is writing accessible catchy hard rock songs with just a bit of metal to them. Youthanasia isn’t a soft album. I still wouldn’t say it’s only hard rock but it’s definitely the most commercial and most polished album they ever released. Yes, even more so than Risk, I think. That album was just… different. Youthanasia is lighter than Countdown to Extinction, the solos aren’t as prolific but the album still retains a metal quality.

I may not be saying enough about an album that easily makes my Top 10 of All-Time, but what else do I have say other than it’s in my Top 10 of All-Time and receives frequent spins over 10 years after I first heard the album?

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Buy the album at Amazon.com!

Megadeth – Countdown to Extinction [Review]

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Megadeth – Countdown to Extinction
1992, Capitol Records

1. “Skin o’ My Teeth”
2. “Symphony of Destruction”
3. “Architecture of Aggression”
4. “Foreclosure of a Dream”
5. “Sweating Bullets”
6. “This Was My Life”
7. “Countdown to Extinction”
8. “High Speed Dirt”
9. “Psychotron”
10. “Captive Honour”
11. “Ashes in Your Mouth”

Band:
Dave Mustaine – Lead Vocals, Guitar
Marty Friedman – Guitar, Backing Vocals
David Ellefson – Bass, Backing Vocals
Nick Menza – Drums, Backing Vocals

Produced by Max Norman and Dave Mustaine

I’m dating myself as a fairly recent Megadeth fan but my first exposure to Countdown to Extinction was back in the late ’90s or early 2000s when I picked it up from a local pawn shop, along with a few other Megadeth albums.

Following the classic Rust In Peace, I can understand why there would be some backlash in regards to Countdown to Extinction at the time of its release. Countdown is still heavy metal, but it features a bit more polish and hooks than they have previously used. No doubt this slicker sound was achieved with by enlisting the aid of producer Max Norman but Dave Mustaine was also on a quest to prove he could outsell Metallica at any cost. I’m sure his former band’s massive success with 1991’s “The Black Album” convinced Dave that it was time to adopt a slightly more commercial sound. While Countdown to Extinction didn’t reach the insane commercial heights of “The Black Album” but it still managed to go double platinum and that’s something to still be extremely pleased with.

Over time, the album has become generally regarded as one of the band’s best. I agree and that opinion is given merit thanks to stone cold classics like “Symphony of Destruction”, “Sweating Bullets” and “Countdown to Extinction”. But this is not a perfect collection of polished heavy metal. There are a few tracks that are nothing more than filler to my ears such as “Captive Honour”, “Architecture of Aggression” and “High Speed Dirt”.

With a bit of a change in sound, Countdown to Extinction is a great album and another high point for what many consider to be the classic Megadeth line-up. This is the album that put the band on the path to deliver in 1994 what I think is their best album yet: Youthanasia.

Highlights: “Skin O’ My Teeth”, “Symphony of Destruction”, “Foreclosure of a Dream”, “Sweating Bullets”, “This Was My Life”, “Countdown to Extinction”

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Buy the album at Amazon.com!

Megadeth – Super Collider [Review]

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Megadeth – Super Collider [Best Buy Exclusive Edition]
2013, Universal Music Enterprises/Tradecraft/T-Boy Records

1. “Kingmaker”
2. “Super Collider”
3. “Burn!”
4. “Built for War”
5. “Off the Edge”
6. “Dance in the Rain”
7. “The Beginning of Sorrow”
8. “The Blackest Crow”
9. “Forget to Remember”
10. “Don’t Turn Your Back…”
11. “Cold Sweat”
Bonus Tracks:
12. “All I Want”
13. “A House Divided”
Best Buy Exclusive:
14. “Countdown to Extinction” (live)

Band:
Dave Mustaine – Lead Vocals, Guitar
Chris Broderick – Guitar, Backing Vocals
Dave Ellefson – Bass, Backing Vocals
Shawn Drover – Drums

Produced by: Johnny K

What’s in a name? Nitpicking here, because it’s the music that matters most, but I find the title of Super Collider to be lackluster and fairly generic (the same way I felt about Thirteeneven with its alternate alpha-numeric spelling). Yes, I know that’s the Large Hadron Collider on the cover (with Vic Rattlehead barely visible in the back there) but it’s all a bit “off” for Megadeth album, in my opinion. Especially with the picture being so bright and colorful. I will say the cover is made a bit cooler with the lenticular insert that comes with the album. I’m not sure if that’s a Best Buy exclusive as well or given to all releases.

So, for a long time, Megadeth has been one of my favorite bands. For a period of time, it wouldn’t have been out of line to say they were my favorite. But, with each passing album, I find myself becoming less thrilled with them. Endgame and Thirteen were both disappointments to me with few bright spots and a lot of filler. So I certainly was not hyped up for Super Collider (and the uninspired album title & cover art only made matters worse). Based off the lead single, “Super Collider”, I figured I had this album already pegged as yet another disappointment.

However, two more songs were released online that really piqued my interest: “Built for War”, which sounds like something that could’ve been on United Abominations. Then there’s “The Blackest Crow”, which is a very unusual Megadeth track that could’ve come from Risk and it has a creepy country/bluegrass vibe to it complete with banjo and slide guitar. Both of these songs got me excited for the album.

And then I kept reading reviews online going “oh, this is a hard rock album, this isn’t heavy metal!” My response? “GOOD!” I’ve always felt Megadeth’s best albums came from the nineties, a time when they were blurring the line on whether they were metal or rock. With the last few albums, Dave seemed to be going in a direction that was heavier and faster than Megadeth had ever been. That’s quite an impressive and commendable feat, even if it didn’t lead to too many memorable songs, but it really isn’t what I wanted from the band. It seems like on Super Collider that Mustaine and lessened the intensity and added a much needed dose of melody & hooks that harkens back to Youthanasia and Countdown to Extinction.

“Kingmaker” – Solid Megadeth metal to kick off the album.

“Super Collider” – I found this one to be disappointing upon first hearing it (as did most people). It’s not a particularly heavy song. Probably about as radio-friendly as Megadeth can get. Sounds like it should’ve been on Risk. It’s actually grown on me with repeated listens but it was a poor choice to be the first released song from the album.

“Burn!” and “Off the Edge” come off like filler to me.

“Built For War” – Great track! This one is a modern Megadeth heavy metal classic right alongside “Gears of War”, “This Day We Fight!” and “Sudden Death”. This song is most definitely heavy metal.

“Dance In The Rain” –  I love the way this song starts off, with that somewhat creepy vibe Megadeth songs can have. This is actually Dave as a motivational speaker though (somewhat) — “you better learn to dance in the rain/instead of wait for the sun/dance in the rain/the sun will never come”. Disturbed/Device vocalist David Draiman appears on this track as well. Is that a selling point for you? It’s not for me.

“The Blackest Crow” – Like I said, an unusual Megadeth track but I’m loving it. It’s bluegrass meets heavy metal!

“Cold Sweat” – Pretty cool to hear Megadeth cover Thin Lizzy. Of course, it’s much more powerful than the Thin Lizzy version but it’s a faithful cover.

As far as the three bonus tracks go, “All I Want” and “A House Divided” are decent. “All I Want” is a fairly good headbanger that is about girl — “all I want in a girl…”. Simple, but a cool tune. I would’ve been fine with this replacing “Burn!”. “A House Divided” is another unique song (horns!), coming off like something that could’ve been on Risk or The World Needs A Hero. Both of these tracks are growing on me more and more with each listen. The third and final bonus track (and a Best Buy exclusive) is a live version of “Countdown to Extinction” that was recorded in 2012 at a show in Ponoma, California.

megasupersingle

The artwork for the “Super Collider” single. I would’ve much preferred this as the actual album cover. Has a bit of a ’90s Megadeth vibe, I think. Maybe that’s because it reminds me of the alien ship in ‘Independence Day’.

Megadeth-Supercollider

This artwork popped up online with claims that it was the album cover. I guess it was a rejected album cover/single artwork? It’s a bit goofy, reminds me of Overkill. Probably for the best that this one didn’t make it into production but I love how the Megadeth logo is breaking up.

Overall, I think Dave & Co. have delivered the best Megadeth album since at least 2007’s United Abominations. Don’t let the people fool you — this is NOT Risk. You can’t categorize this album as solely hard rock, but it’s not a full-blast trash/speed metal album like the last two have been either. It’s a rock/metal album and that is completely what I want from Megadeth. Megadeth’s stock was dropping with me after Endgame and Thirteen but Super Collider has started to set things right once again.

Highlights: “Kingmaker”, “Super Collider”, “Built for War”, “The Blackest Crow”, “Forget to Remember”, “Don’t Turn Your Back…”, “Cold Sweat”, “A House Divided”

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Buy the album at Amazon.com

Megadeth – Thirteen

Megadeth – Thirteen (2011, Roadrunner Records)

1. “Sudden Death” … 5:09
2. “Public Enemy No. 1” … 4:15
3. “Whose Life (Is It Anyways?)” … 3:50
4. “We the People” … 4:33
5. “Guns, Drugs, & Money” … 4:19
6. “Never Dead” … 4:32
7. “New World Order” … 3:56
8. “Fast Lane” … 4:04
9. “Black Swan” … 4:10
10. “Wrecker” … 3:51
11. “Millennium of the Blind” … 4:15
12. “Deadly Nightshade” … 4:55
13. “13” … 5:53

Band:
Dave Mustaine – Lead Vocals, Guitar
Chris Broderick – Guitar, Backing Vocals
Dave Ellefson – Bass, Backing Vocals
Shawn Drover – Drums, Percussion

Producer: Johnny K

Thirteen is Megadeth’s 13th album. It’s become cliched to title your album based on its chronological order in your catalog just as much as its become lame to stylize an album title or song as something like Th1rt3en. It’s just unimaginative and lame (to me anyways) but I suppose I’m just nit-picking.

Of course, lack of imagination could be argued for this album because five of the thirteen tracks on this album have appeared elsewhere in various forms. “Sudden Death” was originally recorded in 2010 exclusively for the Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock video game. “Black Swan” was an exclusive to Megadeth fan club members who pre-ordered United Abominations. “Millennium of the Blind” was originally demoed for Youthanasia and in that form found its way onto the 2004 re-issue as a bonus track. “New World Order” is from the Countdown for Extinction era and was also included in demo form on the re-issue of Youthanasia (a completed version appeared on 1999’s Duke Nukem: Music to Score By soundtrack). Lastly, the main riff from “Deadly Nightshade” is something that’s “been around for a while” since the mid-90s according to returning original bassist David Ellefson (this is Ellefson’s first Megadeth studio since 2001’s The World Needs a Hero) . It should be noted though that all of these songs have been completed, reworked and/or re-recorded for this album so it’s not a total cut & paste job.

In comparison to Endgame, Thirteen is an improvement. Endgame had some good tracks but left me cold for the most part. It was thrash & speed just for the sake of it and I’m happy Andy Sneap wasn’t able to return to produce this album (scheduling conflicts) because otherwise we probably would’ve ended up with Endgame Part 2. In the quest for speed & aggression, it seemed like Mustaine forgot all about melody and hooks on the last album. Thankfully Thirteen does not suffer this problem as the nature of this album is more melodic and songs like “13” and “Guns, Drugs & Money” prove the point.

There is still enough thrash & speed to go around though. “Sudden Death” (slightly different than the Guitar Hero version) is one of the best songs Dave has written in years and should be included on any future “best of” compilations. “Wrecker” is another track sure to have you headbanging. Much of the album finds a great middle ground between being heavy while still having the hooks that will dig into your brain and keep you coming back for me.

Personally, I prefer a melodically metal Megadeth over a thrashy Megadeth any day of the week so this album has worked out well for me and has restored my faith in the band (not that it ever really faltered). Those that were enamored with the audio assault of Endgame may be slightly disappointed with Thirteen but those that liked the melodic shift in sound the band took on starting with Countdown to Extinction should find plenty here that will entertain.

Highlights: “Sudden Death”, “Public Enemy No. 1”, “Whose Life (Is It Anyways?)”, “Guns, Drugs & Money”, “Never Dead”, “Millennium of the Blind”, “13”

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Buy ‘Th1rt3en’ at Amazon.com

MEGADETH – Peace Sells… But Who’s Buying?

Megadeth – Peace Sells… But Who’s Buying? (1986, Capitol Records)

1. “Wake Up Dead” … 3:39
2. “The Conjuring” … 5:02
3. “Peace Sells” … 4:02
4. “Devil’s Island” … 5:04
5. “Good Mourning/Black Friday” … 6:39
6. “Bad Omen” … 4:03
7. “I Ain’t Superstitious” … 2:44
8. “My Last Words” … 4:48

Band:
Dave Mustaine – Lead Vocals, Guitar
Chris Poland – Guitar
Dave Ellefson – Bass, Backing Vocals
Gar Samuelson – Drums

Produced by: Dave Mustaine, Randy Burns, Andy Somers

Really strong album that is pointed to as one of the supreme thrash classics and is often mentioned as being better than perhaps Rust In Peace. That’s a debate I don’t care to get into because I’ve always enjoyed the more melodic side of Megadeth best (1992-onward) and for my money, Youthanasia is their best release.

Still, this is early angry Dave talking about politics, death and evil things all while and snarling and growling. You can’t go wrong with that, but it’s not an album I pull out to listen to much.

The album has a great closer with “My Last Words”, it’s definitely metal, but isn’t quite a heavy as the rest of the album. Given my Megadeth preferences, that’s probably why I like it so much.

I have the original CD pressing, but the album was remixed & remastered in 2004 by Dave himself and included remixed bonus tracks of “Wake Up Dead”, “The Conjuring”, “Peace Sells” and “Good Mourning/Black Friday”.

Highlights: “Wake Up Dead”, “Peace Sells”, “Good Mourning/Black Friday”, “I Ain’t Superstitious”, “My Last Words”

www.megadeth.com
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TIM RIPPER OWENS – Play My Game

Tim Ripper Owens – Play My Game (2009, SPV/Steamhammer Records)

1. “Starting Over” … 3:33
2. “Believe” … 4:35
3. “The Cover Up” … 4:30
4. “Pick Yourself Up” … 4:32
5. “It Is Me” … 2:53
6. “No Good Goodbyes” … 3:35
7. “The World Is Blind” … 4:50
8. “To Live Again” … 6:00
9. “The Light” … 4:36
10. “Play My Game” … 4:43
11. “Death Race” … 3:29
12. “The Shadows Are Alive” … 5:35

Band:
Tim “Ripper” Owens – Vocals

Additional Musicians:
Bob Kulick, Bruce Kulick, Carlos Cavazo, Chris Caffery, Doug Aldrich, Michael Wilton, Jeff Loomis, Steve Stevens – Guitar
Marco Mendoza, Billy Sheehan, Dave Ellefson, Rudy Sarzo, James Lomenzo, Tony Franklin – Bass
Simon Wright, Vinny Appice, Ray Luzier, Bobby Jarzombek – Drums

Produced by: Tim “Ripper” Owens, Bob Kulick, Brett Chassen

This is the debut solo album from ex-Judas Priest/ex-Iced Earth/current Yngwie Malmsteen vocalist Tim “Ripper” Owens and it’s a grower. On my initial casual listens, I wasn’t too impressed with it, but the more I listen to it, the more I’m liking it. It’s not an essential 2009 release, but it’s good and I recommend it to anyone who is a fan of Ripper.

Unfortunately, the sales on the album haven’t been too well. Not that I expected this album to get anywhere near Billboard’s top 100, but I figured it would sell a bit more than the reported 827 copies it sold in the first week of release. Ouch. Oh well, be proud, Ripper! You delivered a solid album. Hopefully, this will lead to even more down the line because I never understood why, after Priest, Ripper didn’t immediately fly solo. The closest he’s come to that is forming the band Beyond Fear, but I think just using his own name would’ve been more marketable (though apparently that’s not true anymore…).

I haven’t followed Owens’ career post-Priest, but to me, quite a number of these songs (“Starting Over” and “Believe” for example) sound like what he may have sung while keeping the seat warm for Rob Halford. “Play My Game” is my favorite track and it’s a pretty good tune to workout to.

Highlights: “Starting Over”, “Believe”, “Pick Yourself Up”, “It Is Me”, “No Good Goodbyes”, “To Live Again”, “Play My Game”

www.timripperowens.com
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