Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Megadeth - Super Collider

Super Collider
Universal Music Enterprises/Universal Music Australia

Years ago, I would have welcomed any new Megadeth album with real enthusiasm. But these days, I find it near impossible to do that. And the reason for that simply comes down to the fact that Megadeth albums in recent years have been largely hit and miss affairs at best. Don’t get me wrong – Megadeth has always had their fair share of hits and misses. It’s only been since the band returned to the scene in 2001 that something has radically changed (Something far beyond the mere dismantling of the so-called ‘classic’ line-up) that has meant that every new album has seen the balance of the good and the mediocre leaning more in favour of the latter.
So given my bitter disappointment of ‘TH1RT3EN’ (Which I personally thought was one of the band’s weakest efforts in their near thirty year career), I can’t say that I was chomping at the bit to get my hands on a copy of their latest full-length effort ‘Super Collider’.
But as difficult as it was, I decided to give Megadeth’s latest album a spin with an open mind. And if I were to be honest, and judge the album based on its own merits, I can honestly conclude that while ‘Super Collider’ is a marked improvement on ‘TH1RT3EN’, the album still ranks as one of the band’s weakest efforts.
The opening track ‘Kingmaker’ provides a solid start for the album with its initial bass line intro and fast paced thrash-like guitar groove riffs, but it isn’t long before the problems that have plagued Megadeth in recent years start to become obvious. Structurally, ‘Kingmaker’ doesn’t seem to venture much beyond its initial framework. Sure, the chorus does allow the song to alter its course a little, but nowhere near enough to give the song an identity that makes you sit up and take notice. The other real problem is Megadeth front man/guitarist Dave Mustaine. I don’t expect him to sound like he did some twenty years ago (Hell, after 2010’s ‘Rust In Peace Live’, I know that’s an impossibility!), but I did expect that he would inject a bit of himself into his vocals. On this track, his voice rarely varies, which only adds to the song’s overall blandness. Of course, Chris Broderick injects a bit of energy into the track with some well executed solo work, and Shawn Drover’s drumming is cool, but both can’t salvage what is essentially a fairly ordinary track.
But the opener is something of an exception when it’s compared to the single/title track ‘Super Collider’. Mustaine’s ventures into the more hard rock sounding side of things have always had its fair share of disasters, and this is one of them. Rather than living up to the imagery portrays in its lyrics, ‘Super Collider’ sounds tired, bland and forgettable.
‘Burn!’ (The album’s first single) does manage to address some of the issues I had with the opening track, but is let down with Mustaine’s dreadful lyrical efforts, while the band’s attempts to thrash things up on ‘Built For War’ (Which features of all things bagpipes) and the mid-paced ‘Off The Edge’ just seem tame when compared to the band’s past efforts, both in the musical and lyrical sense.
The album does have a couple of bright moments however. ‘Dance In The Rain’, despite its poor lyrics, does feature some of Mustaine’s trademark snarls on the vocal front, and its heavier and decidedly thrashier tail end is bolstered with a great vocal performance from former Disturbed/Device front man David Draiman. This is by far the strongest cut on the album.
Elsewhere, the mid-paced ‘Beginning Of Sorrow’ is an O.K., as too is ‘The Blackest Crow’ (Which features some interesting banjo work, and is probably the most experimental track Megadeth have recorded since ‘Insomnia’ from 1999’s ‘Risk’) and the blues/hard rock vibe of ‘Don’t Turn Your Back...’. But as good as these small moments are, there’s the rock based ‘Forget To Remember’ and the fairly by-the-numbers cover of Thin Lizzy’s ‘Cold Sweat’ to remind you of what Megadeth sound like when they’re on autopilot.
If the last decade has said anything about Megadeth, it’s that their glory days are far behind them. That’s not their fault, because it happens to all bands. It’s just that the bands who are aware of the change that will focus on recording fewer albums’ in order to deliver a better quality in the long run. Those who aren’t aware will continue to make albums like they always have. Megadeth just happen to be one of those bands.
‘Super Collider’ isn’t one of Megadeth’s worst albums, but is sure as hell isn’t one of their best either. But until Mustaine spends more time on his song writing (Not just the music, but the lyrics as well), rediscovers his passion for making music and holds off recording until he has enough material to fill an entire album with killer material, Megadeth will continue to be a former shadow of their classic selves on albums from this point on.

For more information on Megadeth, check out - http://www.megadeth.com/

© Justin Donnelly

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