Megadeth
TH1RT3EN

Like clockwork, two years after Endgame, MegaDave is back with album number 13, the aptly and simply titled Thirteen, or TH1RT3EN, as Dave has chosen to call it. Yeah, I know, it’s pretty horrible. I had hoped that it wasn’t a sign of the quality of the tunes on the album, but unfortunately, it’s kind of telling.

Like the last couple of albums, it’s a mixed bag. There’s a few good tunes, some boring ones, some previously released, and a couple that are just flat out bad. On the whole, it’s pretty average. And less metal, certainly less thrash. Instead, there’s a strong hard rock vibe going on in many of the songs here. When they aren’t in hard-rockin’ mode, the metal is much more Youthanasia/Cryptic Writings than say, Peace Sells/Rust in Peace – which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as those were fine albums in their own right, but there are issues with quality and memorability.

I think the biggest problem here is that Dave has slipped into a comfortable groove – no longer worried about following in the footsteps of and trying to outdo Metallica, he’s a found a niche and sound he’s happy with – good for him – but it’s lacking, and sounds lazy. For instance, his vocals are missing much of his old trademark snarl. He obviously still sounds like Mustaine, but many of his old little quirks are not present, instead, we get a much more generic singing style, and he sticks to it, thick and thin.

Then there’s the riffs – my Dio, what the fuck happened to the riffs? At least with Endgame, The System Has Failed and especially United Abominations, the riffs were still undeniably Megadeth, even if a few of them were on the weak side. I mean, there’s some good, signature Mustaine riffs on Thirteen, but so much of this stuff is like the vocals in that it’s just generic, and really stripped back. This is where a lot of the aforementioned hard rock vibe comes into play. “We the People”, the incredibly painful “Guns, Drugs and Money”, “Fast Lane” (yet another tune about Dave’s infatuation with cars, driving fast, etc), “Black Swan” and “Wrecker” fall under the more hard rock banner – some fair better than others, but this is Megadeth – where’s the thrash, where’s the metal?

Previously released material? What the hell Dave. One of the lamest aspects of this album is the decision to lead it off with “Sudden Death”, a track that was penned for one of the Guitar Hero games, as the final, master level or whatever-the-fuck track. It’s a wank fest of epic proportions. So much so, that there’s barely a song there – it’s just a bunch of shred. I love shred as much as the next thrasher, but come on, give it to me in a song man. Then there’s “New World Order”, a track that was originally written back in the Countdown era, and finally released in the Warchest boxset a couple years back. Here, it’s been rerecorded, and it’s still a mid level, average tune – it’s really no wonder why it never made it on any other studio albums. “Millennium of the Blind” was first written around ’91, and ultimately released as a bonus track on the 2004 remix and remaster of Youthanasia – nothing too exciting here either. “Black Swan”, which isn’t a terrible tune to be honest, was given to fan club members who pre-ordered United Abominations. Finally, “Never Dead” was penned for a video game of the same name, but hasn’t been released yet. “Never Dead” is far and away the best and most Megadeth-ish out of the bunch. What all this boils down to is Dave running out of ideas and trying desperately to run that track total up to 13. Kind of a sham if you ask me.

So where does that leave us? 8 fresh tracks? Okay, that’s enough to constitute an album, but how do they fair? Still a mixed bag. There’s the previously mentioned “Wrecker” and “Fast Lane” are both solid tunes; “Guns, Drugs and Money” is absolutely horrible with it’s almost happy sounding main riff; “We the People” has a solid chorus, but a boring verse riff; “Deadly Nightshade” is painfully average in every imaginable; “13”, as stated by Dave Ellefson, has a “In My Darkest Hour” kind of feel to it, which is definitely on the mark being a slower, brooding and kind of eerie sounding type of tune; “Whose Life (Is it Anyway?)” comes off pretty average at first, but grows on you with repeated spins, and finally “Public Enemy #1” is the albums defining standout. By far the most metal of the bunch, the main riff baring a strong resemblance to that of “Hangar 18”, though the song as a whole has a strong Countdown era feel to it, and sports an insanely memorable chorus.

So yeah, there it is. Another average Megadeth album. I’m glad that Dave is finding so much success this late into his career, but he needs to throw us old fans a bone an give us something really special, because this shit just isn’t cutting it.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Larry "Staylow" Owens
November 7th, 2011

Comments

  1. Commented by: AARONIUS

    Waaaaaaay too harsh. This album is solid. Guns, Drugs, and Money is a very cool sleazy groove metal song which I think compliments Dave’s sleazy (aquired taste) vocals. Also why complain about how un-thrashy the album is and then in the next paragraph rip on how thrashy Sudden Death is?

    Don’t get me wrong, every song isn’t a winner but I’m enjoying Thriteen every bit if not more than Endgame. I also actually think Dave made a good move by using Johnny K instead of waiting on Sneap. Thirteen overall sounds a lot less sterile, and I feel the tones are somewhat heavier sounding.

    And it has to be said, at least the groove Dave’s settled into doesn’t find him collaborating with some avant garde geriatric…


  2. Commented by: Evil In U

    Read the review even though I have no interest in Megadeth whatsoever and I’m a bit confused by the fact that you mention Sudden Death twice in the same paragraph. Is it a Guitar Hero track or a track for another video game of the same name?

    Aaronius, he doesn’t complain about Sudden Death being too thrashy, he says it’s a bunch of shred disguised as a song.


  3. Commented by: Staylow

    Shit, typo. The second mention is supposed to be Never Dead. I’ll fix it.


  4. Commented by: Larry "Staylow" Owens
  5. Commented by: Larry "Staylow" Owens

    Aaronius, I’m a HUGE Megadeth fan, but this album mostly bores me to tears. A couple cool tunes and a bunch or mediocre boring crap. As for “Sudden Death” and my gripe about the album not being thrashy enough – I do in fact love the shred, but when you shred just for the sake of shred and leave solid songwriting at the door, that’s not good – I’m not really a fan of that. It boils down to a piss poor song loaded up with a ton of flashy guitar work.


  6. Commented by: gabaghoul

    good writeup Larry, I’ll check this out for old time’s sake but not expecting much. At least he didn’t pen any songs about Jesus.


  7. Commented by: gordeth

    It seems to me that this album is nothing more than a contractual obligation. It’s their last album for Roadrunner, many of the songs are leftovers, and I even heard that the producer had a big hand in writing some of the new songs.


  8. Commented by: faust

    Yep, Larry says it like it is. A very fair review for a very mediocre album.


  9. Commented by: Dimaension X

    “At least it’s not Lulu.”

    Perfect.


  10. Commented by: Cynicgods

    Would be called Hidden Treasures II if not for the fact that most of the songs on HT I are quite good. This batch of tunes is quite uninspired.

    Taken aback they released this right after Endgame. Oh well, at least they didn’t find some artsy fartsy geriatric who can’t even speaksing anymore and just doesn’t know when to quit (and this is coming from someone who actually likes some of Reed’s stuff).


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