Thursday, 3 November 2011

#099 Megadeth - Th1rt3en

Megadeth were, without a doubt, the first metal band I was into. Maybe they're not always in my top-ten bands of the moment anymore, but they'll always have a special place in my heart, as I'm sure anyone can empathise. "Th1rt3en" marks the bands... well... thirteenth studio album, and seems to, in places, take a softer approach to the band's sound, with a more "Countdown to Extinction" and "Youthanasia" style approach.

One thing which is immediately apparent, so immediate that you're well aware of it before actually listening the album at all, is that a certain proportion of the songs on the record have been recycled. I'll leave you to look at the tracklists yourselves, but I'll state that some of the re-workings are more welcome than others. "Sudden Death" seems a bit pointless - sounding almost identical to the version released as a single only about a year before, and despite being one of my favourite B-sides, "Black Swan" isn't done much justice, it's majestic intro exchanged for a chaotic and much less beautiful sounding affair. That said, "New World Order" is tolerable, although I still much prefer the demo version, where the riff isn't spoiled by lead-work. The new material on the album, accounting for nine of the thirteen tracks, certainly has a much less thrashy edge than "Endgame" or even "United Abominations" did, and goes down a more simplistic road, reminiscent of Megadeth's middle-era, especially, as far as I can hear, "Cryptic Writings", which is regarded as quite tame, but not, thankfully, as much as "Risk".

While many of the new songs are quite enjoyable, for instance, "Public Enemy #1" is immensely catchy and well put together, quite a lot of the material seems very filler-like. A lot of the songs, like "Guns, Drugs and Money" have almost no distinguishing features whatsoever, seemingly a miasma of forgettable guitar, with little apparent structure. Th1rt3en feels less like an album, and more like a collection of songs which just so happened to exist at the time, which, at least, brings in some pleasant windfalls, such as "Never Dead", which is possibly the one genuinely thrashy song on the album which hasn't been released in some shape-or-form already. As much as I really rather want to like this album, I can't help but feel that it comes nowhere near the fantastic peak re-claimed by "Endgame". The production seems a bit off, too - I like crunchy guitar, but they seem a little too crunchy on this album - quite often robbing the song of the sharp edge which Megadeth use to excellent effect. The vocals sound a little bit drowned out, too, but all in all, it's adequate.

It's a step down, but it's not a bad album of it's own right. Sadly comparison to other work by the band is inevitable, and I can safely say that it's not a continuation of the peak of excellence that "United Abominations" and "Endgame" built. It's not overtly disappointing, but it's a bit of a comedown from even it's most recent predecessors.

I give the album a 6/10.

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