I think Dave Mustaine might be trying too hard. Don’t get me wrong – Endgame, his twelfth studio album, isn’t a bad album, but it’s also not the epic-return-to-form masterpiece that he’s been peddling it as over the past several months. This isn’t Rust In Peace Part 2, no matter how bad he wants it to be, and wants everyone else to see it as. That’s a piece in time that he will never recapture or duplicate no matter how hard he tries.

The addition of Chris Broderick (replacing Glenn Drover) has certainly upped the shred factor, but hasn’t helped Dave write better songs – in fact, quite the opposite. It seems Dave has foregone all the songwriting skills he’s picked up over the past 15 years or so in favor of speed and shred. Now most of us Megadeth fans, myself included, have been clamoring for another balls out, speedy thrash album which he’s largely delivered here I think, but I don’t think anyone wanted it at the sake of memorable songs. Take “Bite the Hand” for example; it’s got two fantastic, killer thrash riffs, ample shred,but a forgettable chorus and a line of lyrics that stick out like a sore thumb – something about “…TV dinners….and beer” – are you serious? Surely something better could have gone in there. I burst out laughing the first time I caught that line. Another song with some questionable lyrics would be “44 Minutes”, a song that I gather is based off a real incident that happened not long ago – two guys suited in Kevlar and packing AK-47’s robbed a bank then had a shoot out with the cops – with a chorus of “44 minutes of target practice, all hell’s breaking loose” – target practice? Really? The bad thing is I can see this being the albums second single with it’s mid paced monster groove. Then there’s “Head Crusher”, which doesn’t really need an explanation, but kicks all kinds of ass musically.

To continue with the negative, “Bodies Left Behind” tries to be a rockin’, memorable tune with a Youthanasia/Cryptic Writings kind of vibe, but ultimately comes up short, as I still can’t recall a single thing about the song after several plays, that is until it comes back on. Then there’s “The Right to Go Insane”, which is overly simplified and much too repetitive the majority of the song, but has one of the most memorable chorus’ of the disc and finishes with some top notch Broderick/Mustaine shred.

Now that all of the bad stuff is out of the way, onto the positives. The album opens with a short instrumental shred piece that heavily reminds of “Into the Lungs of Hell” and sets a good tone for the album, and is immediately followed by arguably the albums heaviest hitter of the album in “This Day We Fight!”, a total thrasher packing one of the best riffs Dave has penned in some time. This momentum is quickly lost when “44 Minutes” kicks in, but is also quickly recovered in Dave’s ode to drag racing with “1,320′”. Here’s another monster riff that should immediately remind of Megadeth circa 88-90, and more specifically “502”. The title track is another shred fest, but starts on the slow side, and carries political based lyrics that are sure to polarize. Here, Dave is ranting about secret bills, the government coming to stick us in concentration camps and black Fema boxes, stripping constitutional rights RFID chips, etc – pretty heavy stuff. From here, there’s the aforementioned “Head Crusher” and Dave’s mandatory ballad/thrasher “The Hardest Part of Letting Go…Sealed With a Kiss” which stands among the albums most memorable songs with another solid riff and excellent solo work. “How the Story Ends” is a slower number that recalls some of the best moments of mid 90’s ‘Deth with what is possibly the albums best chorus and one of those signature mid paced riffs that were all over those albums.

At the end of the day, I’d have to say the mixed bag that is Endgame is on par with the last two studio albums – half good, half questionable. The Andy Sneap mix and production is as good as expected, though Dave’s vocals might be pushed out front a bit too much. Endgame proves that Mustaine still has plenty of gas left in the tank, but whether he can pull it all together for an album of front to back awesome is yet to be seen.

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Written by Larry "Staylow" Owens
September 21st, 2009


  1. Commented by: gabaghoul

    absolutely 100% agree with the entire review. it’s like you read my mind. some things were impressive, a few things are awesome, but mostly I thought it was a mess.

  2. Commented by: faust666

    Spot on review Staylow. I’m glad that you’ve highlighted what I feel about this album – all shred and no soul.. songwriting has taken a complete backseat and to be honest none of the songs seem memorable, something I enjoyed about United Abominations ( Sleepwalker is probably the best song Mustaine’s penned in years ).
    Chris Broderick – what can I say, I admire his ability as a guitarist but the last time I heard him play really good , memorable stuff was on Jag Panzer’s excellent album “Casting The Stones”. I’m disappointed that his stint with Nevermore and particularly his camraderie with the godly Jeff Loomis has not rubbed off on him. The solos on this album are technically brilliant but just very bland and boring.
    I’m going to give this one another couple of listens to check if I’m missing what some other reviewers have been raving on about but I doubt if I’ll find it.
    I guess I’ll just have to wait and see if Megadave can dish out a better album in the future.

  3. Commented by: Storm King

    This album has some of the worst vocal lines and lyrics that Dave Mustaine’s ever penned, and that’s saying a lot. And as for the “polarizing” title track, it’s got the stupidest lyrics of all, even if I happened to buy the right wing nutbar conspiracy theories in the song in the first place. Highlights are the production and Chris Broderick’s utterly insane soloing.

  4. Commented by: Dimaension X

    Dave Mustaine’s vocals should NEVER be pushed out front. Never. In fact, Megadeth should ‘ve tried to find a better vocalist when they started.

    Chris Broderick IS amazing.

  5. Commented by: SerenityInFire

    I haven’t heard Endgame yet, but I thought the last two were actually quite good, and I love them to pieces. I do feel however, that both albums started to drone towards the end of the record.

  6. Commented by: biff tannen

    I disagree with a lot of this review. This album is FAR superior to both “The System Has Failed” and “United Abominations”. This is the first I’ve heard mutterings of bad song writing! I think each and every song on here is highly memorable…which also includes “44 minutes”,unfortunatly. I think that is the only bad track on the album.
    EACH song on here IS memorable. Just listen to it some more. I’ve been listening to this non-stop for a week now, and continue to find new things to be impressed with and have stuck in my head at work!
    This is EASILY the best ‘Deth record since “Rust…” It’s got the thrash riffs and speed from the early albums,and a lot hooks, ala “Countdown to Extiction”, without sacrificing the aggression as that album did.
    Its also heavier and faster in parts than anything Megadeth has ever done.
    Great album, absolutely mandatory.

  7. Commented by: AARONIUS

    What is everybody smoking? Endgame is the best Megadeth in a looooong time.

    Even with Andy Sneap mixing it (Sorry but his stuff is just too pretty sometimes).

    Heck you can even hear Lomenzo’s bass.

    Also I don’t understand why everybody thinks Dave can’t do RIP anymore. That album doesn’t shred from start to finish.

    I’ve heard some people say that this is kind of like a cross between RIP and Countdown to Extinction, and I kind of agree.

    This is a great album period.

  8. Commented by: Fred Phillips

    I’ve got to disagree, too. I think this is a great record. No, it’s not RIP by a long shot, but that’s one of those once-in-a-career kind of records. We shouldn’t expect him to duplicate it. And Dave’s never been the world’s greatest lyricist so I tend to overlook that.

    It’s got great riffs, memorable songs. Far better than System and, the more I listen to it, I think better than United Abominations, which I loved.

  9. Commented by: Staylow

    I never said I expected him to duplicate Rust, but I think that’s what he thinks it is, or what he expects everyone else to think. Also, I agree that he’s never been a great lyricist, and I also have been able to overlook some of his nonsense, but the stuff I mentioned in the review is cringe worthy and cannot be ignored, especially when his vocals are so high in the mix.

    It does have some great riffs – they’re everywhere on this album, but I don’t think much of it is memorable. Dialectic Chaos/This Day We Fight, 1,320, Head Crusher, Hardest Part of Letting Go…, and How the Story Ends are all pretty good songs, but the rest is pretty ho-hum and forgettable.

  10. Commented by: Staylow

    SerenityInFire said:

    I do feel however, that both albums started to drone towards the end of the record.

    I definitely agree with that. Both of those albums started really strong, then grew considerably weaker on the second half. UA finished really strong with Burnt Ice though.

  11. Commented by: peridot

    “I never said I expected him to duplicate Rust, but I think that’s what he thinks it is, or what he expects everyone else to think.”

    Dave has repeatedly said that Endgame isn’t Rust in Peace II, that nobody should expect it to be, that he doesn’t write that way anymore, and that he never will again. He has said that this is the best Megadeth album ever, but he says that about every album.

    Personally, I like it a hell of a lot more than United Abominations. I feel like it fits neatly between Rust in Peace and Countdown to Extinction in both style and quality.

  12. Commented by: biff tannen

    exactly, it’s a near perfect miss between “Rust…” and “Countdown”. I don’t think the vocals are very high in the mix at all (for Megadeth,anyway)…. listen to “Countdown To Extinction” to hear Dave’s vocals REALLY high in the mix.
    Who cares,though? Dave’s voice IS Megadeth.

  13. Commented by: bast

    Top 10 years end, easily. Been headbanging for a week now too, just great…

  14. Commented by: AARONIUS

    What’s all the fuss about Dave’s writing? Is it his political views that turn everyone off?

    Have any of you heard Death Magnetic?

    Some of you may not think his lyrics are the most intelligent or insightful, but he smokes most others in the overall songwriting department (in my opinion of course).

  15. Commented by: gabaghoul

    who are ‘most others’

  16. Commented by: peridot

    His lyrics are cheesy. He likes puns and cliches as much as Jack O’Neill. I don’t mind that at all, but it’s definitely a matter of taste. The lyrics on Cryptic Writings often made me cringe–“Almost Honest” for example–but on Endgame it’s just regular old Megadeth to me.

  17. Commented by: AARONIUS

    Most others would be bands like Slayer. “Spread a little hate worldwide” is one of the dumbest lines I’ve heard in a while.

    Metallica’s “Of Wolf and Man” gets a mention.

    Believe me there are hundreds more.

  18. Commented by: gabaghoul

    well yeah Slayer hasn’t done anything worth a damn since Divine Intervention

    I like Of Wolf and Man though.

  19. Commented by: gabaghoul

    or are you just talking lyrics and not music? because yeah, most lyrics are garbage, I barely pay attention.

  20. Commented by: AARONIUS

    I thought we were talking more about the lyrics than the song structure as a whole.

    I don’t know I just don’t really have a problem with Dave’s writing lyric-wise. Actually I’d rather hear him write about a bad relationship than hear some songs like “High Speed Dirt” or “Motopsycho”. (that’s mainly a comment on the lyrics not necessarily the music).

  21. Commented by: Tom

    I agree with the review for the most part. Most people just seem so deliriously impressed with the album’s sheer heaviness and technical ferocity they overlook that half the songs don’t have much staying power. Holy Wars, Tornado of Souls – there is nothing as well written on this album as these. Skin O’ my Teeth, Symphony of Destruction, Ashes In Your Mouth – there is nothing on this album as well written as those songs, especially with regards to Ashes In Your Mouth. Reckoning Day, Train of Consequences, Victory – there is nothing on this album as well written as those songs. To put it simply, Endgame is not greater than the sum of its parts because it just doesn’t flow together very well. Dave’s strength is in his guitar playing for sure but I always thought he had a knack for making things catchy and memorable nobody else could (see chorus of Architecture of Aggression) as well structuring songs together brilliantly at times, like 99 Ways to Die for example. I don’t really find that on this album as its more an exercise in wankery for Dave to go out as Metal as possible before he hangs up the axe. As much as I dig the headbanging hysteria it creates in parts to me the song This Day We Fight is the weakest on here (other than the awkward Bite the Hand) because it sounds like Take No Prisoners/Kick the Chair riffs all mish-mashed together without any real cohesion or direction. Nothing unique, nothing inspiring – just metal for the sake of metal. I honestly think Cryptic Writings is a better album – songwriting wise. Does Endgame have more intensity and viciousness? Yes. Does Endgame have better and more solos – Yeah, probably. Is Endgame more of a real metalhead album? Yeah, but so what. Even tossing out the pop influences, this album doesn’t have a She-Wolf or Vortex to compare. Headcrusher is heavy, but Dave’s mumbling delivery over most of it, as well as half this album is a step backwards vocally for him. He sings better on Prince of Darkness off of Risk than anything on this album. And THAT is a fact. In the end, I still like Endgame and there’s parts that are enjoyable, but it really does seem that Dave’s just trying to prove himself again as a guitarist, rather than make use of his songwriting abilities.

  22. Commented by: Sapspopse

    I, for one, am glad that he is showing off his guitar playing ability again. After RIP, he begain, IMO, to “take it easy” with the complexity of his writing for the sake of “catchiness”. This trend started to wind down with System and now has been eliminated. I may be in the minority, but I atcually hope he takes it even further. Hats off to him for having the balls to focus on shredding again. If you want catchy, nice sing along tunes, listen to Nickelback. You like it.

  23. Commented by: Blackwater Park

    Mustaine is my favorite musician of all time. He’s also a huge fucking douche and needs to shut the fuck up already. The new album is average and not the “return to form” he claims it is.

  24. Commented by: Pontiac4lyfe

    Personally, I like the writing on this album better than much other music in general(although it IS low by ‘Deth standards). If you want to get in to bad writing, look at…wait….EVERY band that rose to fame during the eighties. Death Magnetic had it’s share of crap lyrics, and Slayer….I agree…has not done ANYTHING creative in a decade. It’s not like other groups in ANY genre are being creative and non-cliche. AC/DC’s new album was unimpressive lyrics-wise, and so it goes with any band trying to make 10+ albums. But I like the riffs, and it’s over-all a good sound. However, RIP and Countdown could never have been duplicated.

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