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Megadeth – Risk [Review]

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Megadeth – Risk
1999, Capitol Records

1. “Insomnia”
2. “Prince of Darkness”
3. “Enter the Arena”
4. “Crush ‘Em”
5. “Breadline”
6. “The Doctor Is Calling”
7. “I’ll Be There”
8. “Wanderlust”
9. “Ecstasy”
10. “Seven”
11. “Time: The Beginning”
12. “Time: The End”

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

Produced by Dan Huff and Dave Mustaine

Okay, Risk is what most Megadeth fans will agree to be the band’s worst album. I’m not too sure if I agree with that. There’s a number of tracks here that I like a lot. It was definitely something else though, even further removed from Megadeth’s roots than the commercial Countdown to Extinction or Youthanasia albums were. The album is different, that’s for sure. Different doesn’t necessarily mean bad though.

I’m not really sure how you’d describe this album. There are elements of metal, hard rock, alternative rock and, yes, even pop music. The album is certainly an oddity in the band’s catalog but it does have its charms.

“Crush ‘Em” is the song I remember getting the most push from this album. Megadeth performed the song live once on WCW Monday Nitro and then WCW pro wrestler Goldberg used it as his entrance music for a while. The song was also featured on the soundtrack to Universal Soldier: The Return, which Goldberg also had a role in. I think it was even used at sporting events for awhile. I guess it served its purpose. Mustaine has since called the song “dumb” and says he doesn’t like it. Of course it’s dumb, it’s a sports anthem! It’s dumb, but dumb fun.

If I’m remembering correctly, this album was the source of a lot of strife in the life of Mustaine and the band. Dave still wanted to one-up Metallica but wasn’t totally sure if this alternative rock/pop direction was the way to go, but the label was insisting. Meanwhile, Marty Friedman was becoming disgruntled working within the confines of Megadeth. You’d think he’d have been happier than ever in Megadeth consider this was a light album and he went on to recording pop songs once quitting the band and relocating to Japan.

There’s definitely some off-the-wall sounding songs here when you consider this is Megadeth. “Breadline” is a very good rock/pop song while “The Doctor Is Calling”, “Wanderlust”, “Ecstasy”, “Time: The Beginning” are semi-ballads with a strange almost trippy vibe to them.

Though sales were disappointing at the time, given everyone thought this was going to be the big “breakthrough” mainstream album for Megadeth, the album went on to sell over 500,000 copies. That puts it on level with 1997’s Cryptic Writings so I don’t consider Risk to be a commercial failure when looking strictly at the numbers. And despite negative reviews, it’s actually the last Megadeth album to be certified gold.

Listening to the album now, it’s not as bad as everyone makes it out to be. But I never thought it was bad even when I first heard it. Again, it’s just different. In the Megadeth catalog, I might actually rank it above the hard, fast & bland Thirteen and Endgame albums. Those two album had a handful of really good songs but I daresay Risk is more consistent.

Highlights:  “Insomnia”, “Crush ‘Em”, “Breadline”, “The Doctor Is Calling”, “I’ll Be There”, “Wanderlust”, “Ecstasy”, “Time: The Beginning”

www.megadeth.com
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Buy the album at Amazon.com

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?

www.megadeth.com
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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”

http://www.megadeth.com
http://www.facebook.com/Megadeth

Buy the album at Amazon.com!

MEGADETH – Rust In Peace

Megadeth – Rust In Peace (1990, Capitol Records)

1.”Holy Wars…The Punishment Due” … 6:34
2.”Hangar 18″ … 5:12
3.”Take No Prisoners” … 3:27
4.”Five Magics” … 5:41
5.”Poison Was the Cure” … 2:57
6.”Lucretia” … 3:57
7.”Tornado of Souls” … 5:21
8.”Dawn Patrol” … 1:49
9.”Rust In Peace…Polaris” … 5:37

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

Producer: Dave Mustaine and Mike Clink

I figure it’s time I finally comment on Megadeth’s “greatest” album and the beginning of what is acknowledged to be the classic Megadeth line-up. At least, this is the album most people consider to be their greatest. I’m not one of those people. I see it more as a connecting piece for their 1980s and 1990s works but I personally feel it is extremely overrated. When the time comes, I’d take a Youthansia 20th anniversary set list/tour over a Rust In Peace show any day!

It’s definitely a good album, I just think they have done better. I remember being less than impressed with this album when I first heard it but I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. It wasn’t until later when I read another review talking about the progressive elements of this album that it clicked. I’m not a big fan of progressive rock & metal which would explain why I don’t believe the hype about this album.

I know I’m committing heresy by not saying this is a five-star album but it’s the way I’ve always felt. “Holy Wars”, “Take No Prisoners” and “Hangar 18” (one of my favorite Megadeth tunes) are certainly classics but “Five Magics”, “Poison Was the Cure” and “Tornado of Souls” are filler to me. Short as it is, I think “Dawn Patrol” is pretty cool but couldn’t exactly call it an album highlight. So basically I like six of the nine songs from this album which definitely shows I don’t think this album is garbage but there are other Megadeth albums I reach for before even thinking about spinning this one.

Highlights: “Holy Wars… The Punishment Due”, “Hangar 18”, “Take No Prisoners”, “Lucretia”, “Rust In Peace…Polaris”

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FOZZY – All That Remains

Fozzy – All That Remains (2005, ASH Records)

Track Listing:
1. “Nameless Faceless” – 3:28
2. “Enemy” – 4:28
3. “Wanderlust” – 4:14
4. “All That Remains” – 4:33
5. “The Test” – 3:06
6. “It’s a Lie” – 4:26
7. “Daze of the Week” – 4:18
8. “The Way I Am” – 4:10
9. “Lazarus” – 4:01
10. “Born of Anger” – 4:42

Band:
Chris Jericho – Vocals
Rich Ward – Guitars, Keyboards
Mike Martin – Guitar
Sean B. Delson – Bass
Frank Fontsere – Drums

Additional Musicians:
Zakk Wylde – Guitar on “Wanderlust”
Marty Friedman – Guitar on “Born of Anger”
Bonecrusher – Vocals on “It’s a Lie”

Produced by: Rich Beato & Rich Ward

Well, this is quite a departure from covering W.A.S.P’s “L.O.V.E. Machine” and Iron Maiden’s “The Prisoner”. Fozzy decided to stop being a “joke” band and get serious with this album and it ends up with some good results. The hair metal & 80s metal inspirations are mostly gone and in their place is some solid modern heavy metal, alternative metal & hard rock. Most of these songs would song right at home on rock radio. I believe “Enemy” did actually chart for a little bit, and for good reason, it’s the album’s best song. My second favorite would be “It’s a Lie” (even though it’s rap-metal, something I was totally shocked to see Jericho doing).

I still haven’t picked up Fozzy’s 2nd album, Happenstance, but perhaps someday I will because I enjoyed their first release and I enjoy this one as well, even though it took me a while to get into the new sound of Fozzy.

Not sure if I got the band credits correct, I’ve only got the CD on me (the jewel case & booklet are in storage) and I couldn’t find a definitive band line-up for this album online anywhere. If anyone knows any different, feel free to let me know.

Highlights: “Nameless Faceless”, “Enemy”, “The Test”, “It’s a Lie”

www.fozzyrock.com
www.myspace.com/fozzytour

MEGADETH – Cryptic Writings

Megadeth – Cyptic Writings (1997, Capitol Records)

Track Listing:
1. “Trust” – 5:11
2. “Almost Honest” – 4:03
3. “Use the Man” – 4:36
4. “Mastermind” – 3:45
5. “The Disintegrators” – 2:50
6. “I’ll Get Even” – 4:24
7. “Sin” – 3:06
8. “A Secret Place” – 5:25
9. “Have Cool, Will Travel” – 3:25
10. “She-Wolf” – 3:38
11. “Vortex” – 3:35
12. “FFF” – 2:38

Band:
Dave Mustaine – Vocals, Guitar
Marty Friedman – Guitar
David Ellefson – Bass
Nick Menzo – Drums

Produced by: Dann Huff & Dave Mustaine

I picked this one up used at a pawnshop years ago alongside Youthanasia, spending less than $10 total. This album continued the more melodic & commercial nature of the band that had started with Countdown to Extinction and was expanded even more on Youthanasia. Personally, while Megadeth put out some good songs during the 80s, I’m not a huge fan of those albums as whole and I practically never play them, but I do play Megadeth’s 90s-current albums often. I just think Dave Mustaine is better at writing hard rock & commercial metal than he is at writing speed/thrash metal, although there’s certainly some good heavy metal to be found here. Some of my favorite Megadeth songs are here (“Trust”, “Almost Honest”, “I’ll Get Even”) and “A Secret Place” is probably my favorite Megadeth song of all.

“Trust” is a great tune and it makes me think of the old Extreme Championship Wrestling back when they’d use the intro on their syndicated show during their house show promos.

Highlights: “Trust”, “Almost Honest”, “Mastermind”, “The Disintegrators”, “I’ll Get Even”, “Sin”, “A Secret Place”, “Vortex”

Lowlights: “Use the Man”

www.megadeth.com
www.myspace.com/megadeth

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