It isn’t always a guarantee when a great band comes out with an album that it’s going to be spectacular. In the case of thrash metal giant Megadeth
’s 2009 release “Endgame” it can make good on that promise. With three new members backing up lead guitarist/vocalist/band leader Dave Mustaine on this project, the winning formula for success comes not from direction but from respect - a sense that these guys know what it means and takes to make not only a Megadeth
record, but a great Megadeth
record. Mustaine is still the main songwriter and without question the creative force by which the other members take their cues from, but from this very small parameter between shelling out hollow product and overstepping musical boundaries this current team of band mates have amazingly come through with a very high level of quality thrash - the result of which is eleven songs very qualified to carry the Megadeth
The best example of this notion of respect comes from the lead output of second guitarist Chris Broderick. He is an extremely complimentary number two to Mustaine. The opening track, “Dialectic Chaos” is an instrumental piece that primarily features the two guitarists trading off solos (for a total of seven). The surprising stat, though, is that four of them come from Broderick. Most of the songs on “Endgame” feature more spotlighted solos from Broderick than Mustaine. As with each solo; however, more attention to detail is paid to the larger body of work than just merely showcasing Broderick’s talent. The end result is not a cloning of past ideas but a healthy reinvention of what all parties would correctly call the essential Megadeth
sound (the song “Endgame”, “1,320’”, the slower “Bite The Hand
”, and possible best cut “This Day We Fight
Other aspects of “Endgame” that really work are nothing more than tweaks and tune ups to an already smooth running model. Lyrically, sociopolitical tones are Mustaine’s wheelhouse, but where old subjects could be rehashed new ideas are unearthed and exposed (“44 Minutes” with it’s stop/go verses highlighting the message, “Bite The Hand
”, and the largely ambitious titular “Endgame”). To add, there is the introspective “Bodies
” and an E.A.Poe influenced love song(?) “The Hardest Part of Letting Go…Sealed With a Kiss
”. Of the latter, it should be noted that it is structurally two songs: one song is book ended within another. The louder “Sealed” plays like a second movement to the acoustic line over an ominous background wash that is “…Hardest Part…”. It is one of the more creative and atypical songs on “Endgame”.
The better songs are the more aggressive tracks with very strong rhythm lines that either explode (“This Day We Fight
!”, “1320’”) or fire by way of machine gun chugging (“The Right To Go Insane
”, “Head Crusher
”, and “Bite The Hand
”). The lead work is extraordinary throughout and really the central component of the album’s foundation. “Bodies
” harnesses a very melodic solo break, and the dueling approach shines also on “1,320’”. The solo on “Bite the Hand
” remarkably stays within the confines of the bass/rhythm track which shows if anything else the band’s faith in the quality of the song’s main line.
At times, Mustaine will sing rather than snarl, and a couple of the songs fail to overly impress by playing elongated notes behind chorus lines (“44 Minutes”) as a sort of break from the more technically complex stuff, but here it’s OK because that is what they are - breaks - and not so much different as to redefine the whole of “Endgame“. The brand is intact, and the musicians assembled here have not only played as if that was the primary directive, but managed to give birth to an exceptional piece of metal. Megadeth
truly have exceeded all expectations. It is a very well conceived, well written, and well played thrash metal album - truly one of the strongest albums to have come out in ‘09.