This winter, Dave Mustaine and Dave Ellefson are back in the studio recording Megadeth album number 16. The record will mark the second for guitarist Kiko Loureiro (Angra) and the first for new drummer, Dirk VerBeuren (Soilwork, Bent Sea). Over the course of 35 years, Megadeth has earned the moniker ‘iconic’; third generation originators (first two generations being born in Birmingham and the UK, then came American Thrash), they managed to stay relevant, influencing the 15 to 25 year old metal heads of the mid-80’s, the mid 90’s, and now, with songs like “Washington is Next” and an album such as Dystopia, they continue to exert their influence in 2010’s.
Ranking their discography, excluded are Hidden Treasures and their other live and compilation releases.
15. RISK (1999)
An obvious choice for last place, this 1999 release was when the band cut their hair (minus the red maned front-man) and went disco! According to Dave Mustaine, in his autobiography, he puked upon hearing “Crush ’em”; I believe him, for as a Megadeth fan, I also puked. Megadeth went radio pop trying to be Hanson, and it sucked. The album sold over half a million copies, and does have well written pop rock/hard rock (barely) songs; this is supposedly guitar master Marty Friedman‘s influence, and everything else. If you were following the band at the time, RISK was a surprise only by how much of a sell-out record it actually was, the sheer scope of its pop; for a band that’s supposed to be an angry voice for its fans (“Peace Sells…but Who’s Buying”, am I right?), a song like “Ecstasy”, as nifty as those chords and progressions are, is not meant to be part of Megadeth‘s arsenal. At least they were upfront about it, calling it RISK.
14. The World Needs A Hero (2001)
After the backlash from RISK, it was obvious the band went into panic mode, and was ready to make a statement again. The album is alright, though solid songs like the addictive “Dread and the Fugitive Mind”, and the call back to arms “Return to Hanger”, don’t make up for the sappy “Promises” or the cringe worthy title track. Also, RISK was so terrible, that it camouflaged just how much of a rigid drummer Jimmy DeGrasso is, at least in Megadeth; he is a legend, touring with Alice Cooper and Suicidal Tendencies, though compared to the light footed Nick Menza or the demon elf playing of Gar Samuelson, his sticks sound too heavy, and a song like “Disconnect”, for example, could have benefited form a more dynamic drummer. Additionally, super talented guitarist Al Pitrelli (Trans-Siberian Orchestra) was the guy replacing one of the great legends (how it must have irked him when drunk unaware fans called him Marty!), further contributed towards a contrived sounding album.
13. Super Collider (2013)
There was a lot of anticipation leading up to this release; the band was following up a couple of hot albums, the line-up was holding 3rd time coming, and the first single “Kingmaker” had all the right elements. Disappointingly, the songs are overly emotional and can be quite forgettable; Dave explains that as an artist, he was expressing his emotions from that time period, and I believe him, Dave has always been honest in his lyrics. One cool thing about this album is the really fun and completely rocking Megadeth folk song, “The Blackest Crow” (no, that’s not a Game of Thrones reference). A few of the tracks have a stadium rock feel to them, as there is a glam flavor to the recording.
12. United Abominations (2007)
This is an album that contains a possible modern Megadeth classic: “Washington is Next”. The rest of the album, unfortunately, is mostly lackluster. Not to say that there aren’t a few excellent hooks, some clever lyrics, and good riffage, at least as much of that as you’d expect off of a Megadeth record. The arrangements, however, don’t work as well, and despite some wonderful vocal melodies, some of the lyrics are a bit on the cheesy side. The lead guitar work is excellent, although it doesn’t compare well to some of their previous efforts. Also, the over all production sound is too bright for an album that would have benefited from a darker sound. The re-recording of “A Tout le Monde”, (sped up with a duet with Cristina Scabia from Lacuna Coil) a novel effort, and neat to hear, glad it’s out there, however, it does falls short of the classic magic of the original song. “Gears of War”, one of the better compositions, was written for the video game of the same namesake, and helped further expose Megadeth to a new audience.
11. Th1rt3en (2011)
This is an album that resonated with a younger audience, and brought in a new generation of fans who discovered the band from video games; two of the best tracks (“Sudden Death” and “NeverDead”) have been previously released for Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock and in the promotional trailer for the NeverDead video game. The album as a whole feels like a compilation record, with few of the songs (such as the brilliant “New World Order”) having been previously released as b-sides or demo tracks in the 90’s, and are now polished and re-recorded with a not as ‘classic’ of a line-up; the rest of the album is mostly barely above filler. Th1rt3en did signal the return of the band’s signature bassist David Ellefson.
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