Halloween 2011, marks the release date for two albums from two of metal’s titans. Two of The Big 4 will unleash their latest offerings to the masses. One is a car crash; a collaboration that further pushes the self destruct button for Metallica, the other is ‘Th1rt3en’, a return to the Megadeth fold for Dave Ellefson and the thirteenth outing for MegaDave. Whilst Metallica fanny about, seeing if people really will buy any piece of crap they put out, once more MegaDave gets down to some serious business, delivering another quality album through Roadrunner Records.
First though, the down sides. Dave Mustaine isn’t renowned for quality lyrics, and ‘Th1rt3en’ is no exception. There are some clumsy and cringeworthy moments, (“It doesn’t matter what car you drive. She’ll wreck it”), but because of his signature snarl and inflection it raises a smile rather than a shake of the head.
There are also some rehashes of previous tunes. “Sudden Death” was never written as an album track, but as a ‘Guitar Hero’ tune, and it now opens up the album. “New World Order” was originally recorded as a demo for ‘Countdown To Extinction’, appearing on a few remasters and collection albums. The latest incarnation, according to Dave Ellefson, has been updated and “made more violent”. “Black Swan” had a previous outing on certain versions of ‘United Abominations’… So with the borrowed and updated content, there’s no surprise that ‘Th1rt3en’ offers up quite an eclectic collection of past and present styles, rather than a distinct progression for MegaDave and Co.
‘Rust In Peace’ is marked by many as Megadeth’s pinnacle, and ‘Th1rt3en’ packs much of the thrash driven punch that fans lap up so much, but it’s all wrapped in a little bit of a sugar “commercialised” coating. Whereas ‘Th1rt3en’s predecessor ‘Endgame’ was an out and out shredmonster of an album, this is hook laden and addictive from the start, bringing together the lighter more approachable side of Megadeth, and combining it with moments of fretboard fireworks.
Dave Ellefson’s return to the fold is timely and welcome. The basslines bounce through the mix, making elements feel very ‘Countdown To Extinction’; a great credit for having Johnny K at the production helm. There’s speed, there’s precision and there’s even pantomime and theatrics; “Millenium Of The Blind” could easily have been borrowed from the Alice Cooper School of Theatrical Rock. Even title track “13” is a cracking finish, sombre and purposeful, classic Megadeth through and through.
This album may not be quite a strong as ‘Endgame’, but it is quality and is a decent addition to the Megadeth catalogue. With this and Anthrax’s ‘Worship Music’, at least two of The Big Four are still firing on all cylinders… if you listen carefully we’re sure you can here them sniggering at Metallica.