Wolf – Devil Seed
2014, Century Media Records
Buy the album
1. Overture in C Shark
2. Shark Attack
3. Skeleton Woman
4. Surgeons Of Lobotomy
5. My Demon
6. I Am Pain
7. Back From The Grave
8. The Dark Passenger
9. River Everlost
11. Killing Floor
Niklas Stålvind – Vocals, Guitar
Simon Johansson – Guitar
Anders G. Modd – Bass
Richard A Holmgren – Drums
The first and last time I listened to a full album from this band was with their 2009 album Ravenous. It was a solid album, but when I listened to a few tracks from their Legions of Bastards follow-up in 2011, I guess I wasn’t in the mood for these Swedish metal-heads because I’m certain I never listened to the whole thing.
With the release of Devil Seed, I decided to give these guys another chance and I’m glad I did. The first track I heard was “Killing Floor”. I think it might’ve been made available as a streaming preview and it perfectly captures the traditional heavy metal vibe. It’s a great way to close the album. As an opener, the instrumental “Shark in C Minor” sets the pace for what’s to come with yet another fantastic wallop of headbanging metal. “Overture in C Shark” smoothly flows into “Shark Attack”, which does not disappoint after the anticipation already built upon from the opening of the album.
I’ve seen some reviews stating this album is mediocre, but I’m digging it a lot. Much more than I thought I would. In fact, I think I like it better than Ravenous (which I can’t even remember) and I seem to recall that one getting high praise.
Wolf are firmly in the camp of the “new wave of traditional heavy metal” (Enforcer, Cauldron, White Wizzard, Skelator, Skull Fist, etc.) but I’m finding them to be among the cream of the crop as I think they have a better grip on melody and are superior at writing metal-tinged ballads and mid-tempo songs.
Highlights: “Overture in C Shark”, “Shark Attack”, “Skeleton Woman”, “My Demon”, “Frozen”, “Killing Floor”
Megadeth – The System Has Failed
2004, Sanctuary Records
1. “Blackmail the Universe”
2. “Die Dead Enough”
3. “Kick the Chair”
4. “The Scorpion”
5. “Tears in a Vial”
6. “I Know Jack”
7. “Back in the Day”
8. “Something That I’m Not”
9. “Truth Be Told”
10. “Of Mice and Men”
11. “Shadow of Deth”
12. “My Kingdom”
Dave Mustaine – Lead Vocals, Guitar
Chris Poland – Lead Guitar
Jimmie Lee Sloas – Bass
Vinnie Colaiuta – Drums
Produced by Dave Mustaine and Jeff Balding
The System Has Failed is one of those situations where it was originally intended to be a solo album for Dave Mustaine but contractual obligations got in the way so it was released as a Megadeth album. This was a part of a very weird time in the band’s history. In 2002, Mustaine abruptly ended Megadeth, citing an arm injury that left him unable to play guitar. He was able to rehab himself to where he could play guitar again but instead of re-starting Megadeth, he set out to do a solo record and recruited ex-Megadeth lead guitar Chris Poland along with Jimmie Lee Sloas and Vinnie Colaiuta to do the session work. I know some people like to say Seventh Star isn’t a Black Sabbath release because that was recorded as Tony Iommi’s solo album but you don’t hear people saying that The System Has Failed is NOT Megadeth. When you’ve got Dave Mustaine playing/singing/writing a heavy metal album (not to mention original Megadeth guitarist Chris Poland contributing guitar solos) — that’s Megadeth. Unlike with Dave’s side-project MD.45, there was no attempt here, conscious or not, to not sound like Megadeth.
After the critical failure of 199’s Risk, Megadeth returned in 2001 with The World Needs A Hero, which was an honest attempt to right the ship and return Megadeth back to its metal roots. The System Has Failed is even faster and heavier and was pretty much well-received from everyone, including me. In fact, I was in love with this album when it first came out and it’s still one of my favorite Megadeth albums. It’s like Rust In Peace, Countdown to Extinction and Youthanasia all rolled into one. The album went a long way to restoring some of Dave and the band’s credibility in the realm of heavy metal. The band just gets heavier and faster from here into the 2010s and it wouldn’t be until 2013’s Super Collider that Mustaine took the foot off the gas pedal a bit.
This one is still a classic Megadeth album for me. There’s so many great tracks here. “Blackmail the Universe” is a powerful way to kick off the album. Nonstop aggression and then “Die Dead Enough” sounds like Youthanasia. “The Scorpion” is another great track and I love the lyrics. Then you’ve got “Back in the Day” which is a lyrical nod to old school metal. “My Kingdom” is the only true filler here.
Of course, Megadeth was back full-force on tour with this album but the official new Megadeth line-up was Dave Mustaine along with bassist James MacDonough, drummer Shawn Drover and drummer Shawn Drover. Mustaine had tried to recruit Nick Menza, Marty Friedman, Chris Poland and David Ellefson back into the group at various points before the tour kicked off. Nick signed on but was reportedly not up to performing and sent packing just 5 days before the tour started and no deals could be reached with the other three ex-bandmates.
Highlights: “Blackmail the Universe”, “Die Dead Enough”, “Kick the Chair”, “The Scorpion”, “Back in the Day”, “Something That I’m Not”, “Of Mice and Men”
Megadeth – Risk
1999, Capitol Records
2. “Prince of Darkness”
3. “Enter the Arena”
4. “Crush ‘Em”
6. “The Doctor Is Calling”
7. “I’ll Be There”
11. “Time: The Beginning”
12. “Time: The End”
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”
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”
10. “I Thought I Knew It All”
11. “Black Curtains”
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?
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”
10. “Captive Honour”
11. “Ashes in Your Mouth”
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”
Elm Street – Barbed Wire Metal (2011, Massacre Records)
1. “Barbed Wire Metal” … 3:45
2. “The Devil’s Servants” … 4:00
3. “Elm St’s Children” … 5:41
4. “Heavy Metal Power” … 5:44
5. “King of Kings” … 4:50
6. “Leatherface” … 5:06
7. “Merciless Soldier” … 3:55
8. “Metal Is The Way” … 6:14
Ben Batres – Vocals and Rhythm Guitar
Aaron Adie – Lead Guitar
Brendan Farrugia – Bass Guitar
Tomislav Perkovic – Drums
Producer: Ermin Hamidovi
Melbourne, Australia’s Elm Street are a band that plays good old fashioned heavy metal and are proud to do so! At first glance of the cover art and logo (and knowing they are on the Massacre label), I thought maybe they were going to be a brutal-sounding thrash band but don’t let that artwork by the legendary Ed Repka fool you! Yes, this band does have some thrash moments (such as the relentless opening number) but they describe themselves as traditional heavy metal and also display a great sense of melody and New Wave of British Heavy Metal/traditional metal influence. The melody aspect is evidenced on the second track “The Devil’s Servants” and it also reminds me of Black Veil Brides. Don’t worry, it’s not metalcore.
Another thing that stands out about this band is that they are horror movie fans. I mean, the band’s name is Elm Street and they have songs called “Elm St’s Children” and “Leatherface”. These guys are all about delivering fun, powerful heavy metal — “Barbed Wire Metal”? “Heavy Metal Power”? “Metal Is The Way”? You betcha!
There’s lot of good solos and riffs throughout this album and singer Ben Batres has that necessary roughness that wells work with traditional metal. His voice reminds me of Mr. Lordi. I love the gang vocals, too, by the way!
The band knows their way around a melody but they are heavy and fast enough that you won’t think they are wimping out. So, if you want some fun and recent heavy metal to bang your head to Elm Street’s Barbed Wire Metal is just what you need!
File this under “Albums I Wish I Had Heard In 2011”!
Highlights: “Barbed Wire Metal”, “The Devil’s Servants”, “Elm St’s Children”, “King of Kings”, “Metal Is The Way”
Last year I said 2010 was a better year for music than 2009 was. I went on to wonder how 2011 could even begin to top it. Well, guess what… 2011 did indeed top 2010! I’m looking back at my Top 25 list for 2010 and while those albums are all still good, this year’s Top 25 list is much stronger top to bottom.
2011 was a great year that saw classic rock/metal acts like Whitesnake, Warrant, Riot, Alice Cooper, Journey, Black N’ Blue and King Kobra deliver some of the best albums of their career while younger acts like Steel Panther, Reckless Love, Savage Messiah, Evile (who missed the list by this much) and Black Veil Brides have shown that they are more than capable of carrying rock & metal into the future.
Top 25 Albums of 2011
1. Whitesnake – Forevermore
2. Sixx:A.M. – This Is Gonna Hurt
3. Riot – Immortal Soul
4. Warrant – Rockaholic
5. Alice Cooper – Welcome 2 My Nightmare
6. Steel Panther – Balls Out
7. Megadeth – Thirteen
8. Anthrax – Worship Music
9. Sebastian Bach – Kicking & Screaming
10. Reckless Love – Animal Attraction
11. Edguy – Age of the Joker
12. Hurtsmile – s/t
13. Journey – Eclipse
14. Chickenfoot – III
15. Mike Tramp & The Rock ‘N’ Roll Circuz – Stand Your Ground
16. Black Country Communion – 2
17. The Poodles – Performocracy
18. House of Lords – Big Money
19. King Kobra – s/t
20. Saliva – Under Your Skin
21. Foo Fighters – Wasting Light
22. Black N’ Blue – Hell Yeah!
22. Savage Messiah – Plague of Conscience
24. George Lynch – Kill All Control
25. Joe Bonamassa – Dust Bowl
In light of a few non-album singles being released this year, I’ve decided to make this a hybrid category.
Best Compilation/Cover/Live/Reissue Albums
Kind of a catch-all category this year. Instead of listing each category individually, I decided to lump them all into one list and rank them that way.
1. Black Sabbath – Born Again [Deluxe Edition]
2. Stryper – The Covering
3. Vains of Jenna – Reverse Tripped
4. Whitesnake – Live at Donington 1990
5. Slash featuring Myles Kennedy – Live: Made In Stoke 24/7/11
6. Hell – Human Remains
7. Scorpions – Comeblack
8. Def Leppard – Mirrorball: Live & More
9. Eric Carr – Unfinished Business
10. Black Sabbath – Dehumanizer [Deluxe Edition]
Want to read more about the year in music? Check out some of the fine sites & blogs listed below! And be sure to keep checking back for more Year-End posts here at Metal Excess!
All Metal Resource — http://allmetalresource.com/
Bring Back Glam — http://bringbackglam.squarespace.com/
The Crash Pad of Ray Van Horn, Jr. – http://www.rayvanhornjr2.blogspot.com/
Hair Metal Mansion — http://hairbangersradio.ning.com/
Hard Rock Hideout — http://hardrockhideout.com/
Hard Rock Nights — http://hardrocknights.com
Heavy Metal Addiction — http://heavymetaladdiction.com/
Heavy Metal Time Machine — http://metalmark.blogspot.com/
Imagine Echoes — http://www.imagineechoes.com/
Layla’s Classic Rock — http://laylasclassicrock.blogspot.com/
Metal Odyssey — http://metalodyssey.wordpress.com/
The Ripple Effect — http://www.ripplemusic.blogspot.com/
Posted in Year End Awards
Tags: Alice Cooper, Alternative Metal, Alternative Rock, Anthrax, AOR, Black 'n Blue, Black Country Communion, Black Sabbath, Black Veil Brides, Blues Rock, Chickenfoot, Classic Metal, Classic Rock, Def Leppard, Edguy, Eric Carr, Foo Fighters, George Lynch, Glam Metal, Glam Rock, Hair Metal, Hard Rock, Heavy Metal, Hell, House of Lords, Hurtsmile, Ian Gillan, Joe Bonamassa, Journey, King Kobra, KISS, Megadeth, Melodic Hard Rock, Melodic Rock, Metal, Metalcore, Mike Tramp, Music, Myles Kennedy, NWOBHM, Pop Metal, Power Metal, Reckless Love, Riot, Rock, Saliva, Savage Messiah, Scorpions, Sebastian Bach, Sixx:A.M., Slash, Sleaze Metal, Sleaze Rock, Speed Metal, Steel Panther, Stryper, The Last Vegas, The Poodles, Thrash Metal, Tony Iommi, Vains of Jenna, Warrant, White Lion, Whitesnake, Who Cares, Wildstreet
Riot – Immortal Soul (2011, SPV/Steamhammer Records)
1. Riot … 5:03
2. Still Your Man … 4:16
3. Crawling … 5:52
4. Wings Are for Angels … 5:09
5. Fall Before Me … 4:55
6. Sins of the Father … 3:55
7. Majestica … 0:57
8. Immortal Soul … 4:46
9. Insanity … 4:40
10. Whiskey Man … 4:15
11. Believe … 4:17
12. Echoes … 4:57
Tony Moore – Vocals
Mark Reale – Guitar
Mike Flyntz – Guitar
Don Van Stavern – Bass
Bobby Jarzombek – Drums
Producer: Bruno Ravel & Riot
Riot has returned to deliver pure American heavy metal to the masses!
Immortal Soul features the reunited Thundersteel/The Privilege of Power line-up (with additional guitarist Mike Flyntz) that featured the gifted Tony Moore vocals. I’ve always said Riot has never released a bad album. They’re taken a few twists & turns when it comes to the style of rock/metal they would play, but it’s always been quality stuff. I really didn’t have any doubts about the quality of Immortal Soul and became even more enthusiastic for it when the excellent “Wings Are for Angels” was released for streaming earlier this year. That’s one of my favorite songs of 2011!
This album is a great trip back in time. The production is fantastic but the songs are written like this is the direct follow-up to Thundersteel. Anyone who was a fan of that album and Privilege of Power will NOT be disappointed with Immortal Soul. Yeah, this is American POWER metal at its finest. Mark Reale is still firing off some nice solos and coming up with great riffs, Bobby Jarzombek is a monster on the drums as always and Tony Moore is still killin’ it on vocals.
Riot is one of the great American heavy metal bands. It’s a shame they never got the widespread recognition they deserved in the 36 years of their existence. Mark Reale is one of metal’s best guitarists even now. Though the world at large may be unaware, for those of us in the know, we know that Riot’s place in the pantheon of heavy metal is secure.
This is an album not to be missed by Riot fans or anyone into a more tradition heavy metal sound from bands such as Judas Priest. This whole album is classic Riot full of the thrashers, speed, power and melodic metal that many fans fondly remember from the previous Tony Moore era.
Highlights: “Riot”, “Still Your Man”, “Crawling”, “Wings Are for Angels”, “Fall Before Me”, “Sins of the Father”, “Immortal Soul”, “Believe”
Savage Messiah – Plague of Conscience (2011, Earache Records)
1. “Plague of Conscience” … 5:31
2. “Six Feet Under the Gun” … 5:01
3. “Carnival of Souls” … 6:02
4. “In Thought Alone” … 4:36
5. “All Seeing I” … 05:09
6. “Beyond a Shadow of a Doubt” … 4:09
7. “Architects of Fear” … 5:14
8. “The Accuser” … 4:04
9. “Shadowbound” … 4:50
10. “The Mask of Anarchy” … 8:37
Dave Silver – Vocals, Guitar
Joff Bailey – Guitar
Stefano Selvatico – Bass
Mauricio Chamucero – Drums
Producer: Scott Atkins
Savage Messiah are a band I knew absolutely nothing about until I watched music journalist Dom Lawson’s “Iron Sandwich” video review for Plague of Conscience. He gave it a lot of high praise so I figured since the album is currently free to download I’d be a fool to not sample it.
This is the band’s third release and it’s apparent I’ve been missing out on this slice of British steel. I don’t know how this album compares to previous releases, but I’ve seen some places present Savage Messiah as a (retro) thrash metal band but they aren’t that at all. Thrash is just a portion of their sound, they are also equal parts power, speed, melodic and progressive. In short, they are HEAVY METAL. They don’t dance anywhere near the extreme side of metal (like Slayer) and the vocals of Dave Silver are clean & extraordinary. I don’t even get much of a retro vibe from them but they are certainly going to appeal to that community of old school fans because you can hear a bit of Priest, Maiden and Megadeth.
Plague of Conscience has been made available as a FREE download over at Earache Records’ website, so download it while you can. I’d also like to point out that the download comes complete with artwork for the album cover, booklet (with lyrics) and back cover. The artwork throughout is just beautiful. A CD edition of the album will be hitting shelves (and distros) in January 2012.
Granted, you shouldn’t take something just because it’s free but in the case of Plague of Conscience, Savage Messiah & Earache Records have given the public one hell of a deal and now the band has at least one more fan.
Highlights: “Plague of Conscience”, “Six Feet Under the Gun”, “In Thought Alone”, “Beyond A Shadow of a Doubt”, “Architects of Fear”, “The Mask of Anarchy”
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
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”