I'm not going to go for a no-remorse, sardonic, rape-and-pillage attack on the record, although there are definitely points which warrant it; in fact, I was less outright disappointed than I thought I would be, so I'm not going to immediately label this record as the downfall of all humanity, in the vein of a certain Lulu, but at the same time, this record is another instance of one of the big four proving, at the very least, that we can't have nice things. Or rather, we can't have nasty things; thrash is supposed to be ferocious, angular and angry. This album is... neat. It's tidy, and a bit sugary; even the artwork looks like it's in some way sponsored by a soft-drinks company. It certainly does not embody drinking the cheapest beers you could find in the shop, whilst stabbing away at an old, weather-beaten flying-V guitar. Before the obvious is pointed out however, this isn't going to be a "boo-hoo, this isn't Rust in Peace" review. The style that Mustaine chooses to make this album embody isn't problematic in contrast with any of the other, better styles that the band have chosen to play; it simply isn't very good at being what it is. It's not that it's a hard-rock record by a thrash band, it's just that it's not a very good hard-rock album at all. Perhaps it's only saving grace is the residual cleverness which lingers in Mustaine's riff work; they are certainly a little more interesting than the standard, but at the same time, these seem stretched and worn-thin. Sure, "Dancing in the Rain" actually has a "Killing is my Business" style bit, but it's fairly swiftly shat upon by David Draiman, who, to his credit, sounds marginally better than Mustaine, although I'd entirely forgotten he was even on the record until I looked it up, and indeed, didn't notice him at all the first few listens. I thought Mustaine was doing a James Hetfield impression. Anyhow, the occasional fancy-riff does show that there are occasional warm, sunlit spots, but on the whole, the album is a grey, rainy day.
The problem is, of course, amplified up to eleven by the fact that, to continue the metaphor, the forecast could have been so much better. Megadeth can make reasonable albums; Endgame, as far as I'm concerned, shows this to be true. Perhaps that makes it even more disappointing; the fact that an artist who can make good, heck, great works once again delivers us a dollop of sub-par mundanity; not offensively bad, but perhaps offensive in just how much better we know Megadeth can do. Even Mustaine's usually well-read (albeit bat-shit-fucking-Obama-will-instigate-the-apocalypse-insane) lyrics seem clichéd, simplistic and overly watered-down; all of the songs could be about more or less anything; accessible, nondescript angst, strife, and the occasional "they're takin' away ma' guuuns" ejaculated all over the place, making a fairly homogeneous sea of something, which Dave will probably really hate, because things with "homo" in them are sins, as the bible makes clear. Maybe that's why they have a problem with evolution. Either way, I'm not sure what the band were aiming at musically this time around, but I wouldn't be at all surprised if the demographic was aged around twelve. I think that's a fairly solid indication of where the band stands now; Dave doesn't know what his fans want any more, and hasn't a clue what's going on in recent metal. To his credit, he keeps trying, but the image is one of a confused parent constantly asking a crying child what they want. It's a bit sad really.
All in all, I probably won't listen to this album again... I don't think I've listened to Th1rte3n again since I reviewed it, and indeed scored it too highly at the time. There's plenty wrong with this one too - a song called "Burn" with the lyrics "burn, baby burn"... one of the most cliched things I have ever heard. Likewise, the rest of the album just feels like a bit of a shame. There are fun moments, catchy melodies, riff-work and production which raise an eyebrow occasionally, but in the end, just because the album is less poor than I expected, indeed, less poor than Th1rte3n, doesn't mean it's not still poor.
This is a 4/10 effort, because the lower-numbers need some fresh air.
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