I’ve always sworn blind that Megadeth’s peak was in the early 90s, so I was delighted to find that Th1rt3en recreates the same patterns that inhabit the albums from that era. For a start, Th1rt3en is less frenzied than Endgame. It’s hardly laid back, but it’s certainly less of a speed-fest and prefers to thrash out over a mid-paced rhythm, all the while tossing in strong flavors of power metal and rock n’ roll as it travels. The songs have tighter, catchier riffs that all point us directly towards each chorus, where Mustaine picks up the baton and runs in circles repeating the song-title until it lodges itself, irretrievably, in our brains.
Two songs in and I’m recalling parts of Rust In Peace‘s “Hangar 18″ in the key changes, the sharp tongue of Countdown To Extinction‘s “Architecture Of Aggression” and Youthanasia‘s “Reckoning Day” with its ripped chords. The build into the chaotic and brilliantly complex “Sudden Death” is classic, a spiralling solo and a thrilling, skidding riff that pans around your head. Following, “Public Enemy No. 1″ is all bluster and purpose with Mustaine intent on tattooing the four title words to your forehead. All this promise and yet, after a good few run-throughs, it all begins to sound a bit lacklustre. “Whose Life (Is It Anyways?)” turns out to be a limp-wristed shadow that falls apart when it drops the pounded beat (no word of a lie, it reminds me of David Lee Roth’s solo material), “Guns, Drugs & Money” wallows so long in its own filth that it simply forgets to evolve, and the mind-numbingly repetitious “Wrecker” manages to sound more Mötley Crüe than Megadeth.
There’s just so very little bite or sense of foreboding in a lot of this happy-go-lucky rock music they’ve created. Megadeth’s unbeatable sense of pervasive gloom and urgency of delivery is what defines them but save for a handful of tracks, it’s just not present. Their precious dark minor chords are suddenly thin on the ground and, “Millennium Of The Blind” excluded, even the fire of Mustaine’s famed political angst seems to have been extinguished. Who ever thought we’d hear Megadeth dishing out lyrics about life in the “Fast Lane” to a rock n roll backdrop, or hear them goading us with pop swill like “Black Swan”. Mustaine repeatedly offers up the most cumbersome of lyrics – “The soil is red now that you’re dead” from “Deadly Nightshade” or “Like a severed arm washed up on the shore, I just don’t think I can give anymore” from the title-track, and don’t get me started on the rhyming words that are shoehorned in during the chorus of “Public Enemy No. 1″. Johnny K, producer and major contributor, I’m looking at you.
Unfortunately, amidst the carnage caused by so much weak material dragging the album down, superb tracks like “Never Dead”, “New World Order”, “Millennium Of The Blind” and “13″ might just get missed. The former couple are driving, lurching, spitting demons with solos to absolutely die for, whilst the latter duo are heartfelt, colourful anthems. Amongst all the hubbub and flim-flam surrounding the band reaching the landmark of a 13th album, let these tracks not be overlooked. At the end of the day though, it does seem, rather than concentrate solely on delivering an album full of decent music, Megadeth, in some vain attempt to get their tracklisting up to the magic number 13, have gone and produced more filler than killer.
Also online (with samples) @ The NewReview = http://thenewreview.net/reviews/megadeth-th1rt3en