2007's United Abominations was a return to form, but can the guys in Megadeth top themselves with a new axeman in tow?
Megadeth - Endgame
Review by Daniel Wilcox
Dave Mustaine – vocals, guitar
Chris Broderick – guitar
James Lomenzo – bass
Shawn Drover - drums
1. Dialectic Chaos
2. This Day We Fight
3. 44 Minutes
5. Bite the Hand
8. The Hardest Part of Letting Go… Sealed With a Kiss
9. Head Crusher
10. How the Story Ends
11. The Right to Go Insane
The relative success of any Megadeth album is almost solely dependent on how well Dave Mustaine performs, and for the last five years Mustaine has been on fire, most recently with 2007’s United Abominations, the best record the band had put out in years. With Endgame, the trend continues as Mustaine kicks ass and as a result we get a record that probably tops even their most recent effort. Of course, it probably helps to have stabilized the line-up, because although ex-guitarist Glen Drover and Mustaine showed tremendous chemistry on United Abominations, the cohesion on display between Mustaine and new axeman Chris Broderick is almost unparalleled. This is evident from the very first track, the two-and-a-half minute instrumental titled “Dialectic Chaos” featuring hellacious back-and-forth solos between the two. The trend continues on the ultra-fast “This Day We Fight” and “1,320,” an old-school thrasher very reminiscent of the band’s 80’s material, laden with vintage Mustaine twisting riffs.
And while the album’s more ferocious takes are the highlights, the more mid-tempo tracks, such as “Bodies Left Behind” and “44 Minutes” do a good enough job of holding their own here, and there isn’t really a throwaway track in the whole pummelling forty-five minutes. “44 Minutes,” with its epic main solo, is just out of control, and insanely good. Sporting lyrical themes about bank heists, it relentlessly rocks the fuck out and is one of Endgame’s finest moments. Elsewhere, lyrically all sorts of this are discussed, from the expected political jabs at Wall Street and George W. Bush, to Mustaine’s descent into insanity as covered in “The Right to Go Insane,” a descent that’s seemingly been going on for twenty years or more now. The title track is also politically-charged, but you almost don’t notice the vocals due to the sheer relentlessness of the guitar work, as we’re bombarded with epic riffage before the solos take over once again and at just under six minutes, this one is an absolute beast of a track and almost worth the price of admission alone. “The Hardest Part…” is the requisite ballad, opening with an acoustic section before eventually descending into chaotic riffs once again; Mustaine’s haunting vocal on this track is Mustaine at his best.
And this motherfucker just does not let up. “How the Story Ends” is another highlight. It has the same assaulting up-tempo guitar work and lightning-paced double-bass drumming, but what really sets it apart is its mammoth, irresistible chorus, as groovy as it is hard-hitting. Mark that bad boy down as one of the album’s best. Mustaine has gone on record stating that Broderick is the best guitarist he’s had on board with Megadeth and tracks like this and “This Day We Fight” go a long way in back that statement up.
Thematically, it’s a deviation from the rest of the album as Mustaine’s political insights aren’t all that insightful and his lyrics aren’t that much better, but the sheer musicianship, featuring the tightest rhythm section and sharpest guiar pairing the band has had in years, is emphatically daring. Megadeth’s latest offering packs more of a punch than anything they’ve done in a long time, and I loved United Abominations. Right from the get-go, all four just sound more menacing and although at times Mustaine’s lyrics are typically questionable (“1,320” is all about fast cars, motorbikes and the like, for christ’s sake,) technically this is something of a modern masterpiece, an instant classic if you will. It’s an album that sets the band apart from their “Big Four” rivals. Endgame cements Megadeth as the most consistent and thrilling band of its genre.
Essential downloads: "Dialectic Chaos," "This Day We Fight," "1,320," "The Hardest Part," "Endgame," and "How the Story Ends."
The 411: As far as metal albums in 2009 go, this one is right at the top of the stack. As far as Megadeth albums go, this one isn't that far off either, surprisingly considering some of the absolute classics the band has in its back catalogue. Packed with blistering mile-a-minute solos, intense and powerful drumming, grinding vocals and an all round insane level of musicianship, technically, this is as close to an instant classic as you'll get from this genre in 2009. Endgame is an easy recommendation.