by Ryan Meehan
As you may know, from time to time here at FOH we do album reviews where we go track by track and analyze virtually everything about a particular release. This is not one of those reviews.
This past Tuesday, Megadeth released their fourteenth record “Super Collider”. To put it mildy, this record is far from enlightening. I’m going to try and make this short, not just because it’s not really worth a whole lot of my time, but also because I don’t believe it warrants a whole lot of my attention. The easy thing to do here would be to simply say “Megadeth hasn’t put out anything good in a long time”. A lot of metal purists that long for the golden age of when their jean jackets were still in style may tell you things like that, but the strange thing here is that I happen to disagree. I thought that the band’s last offering “Thirteen” had some really good elements to it. The single “Public Enemy No. 1” was catchy but still heavy as hell. There was another song called “The Wrecker” that had great lyrics but was real biting and probably my favorite song on the album. All in all, it was a lot better than I had expected.
On the other hand, when I got “Super Collider” I had expected it to be a continuation of some of the better parts of that record. I thought this, even though when rumors began to surface about the content of this CD I should have probably known better. The inital story about the record’s song “The Blackest Crow” (which has a notable bluegrass influence) bothered me the most because apparently Mustaine wanted country singer Miranda Lambert to sing on the track. She declined, and she wasn’t even really polite about it.
So let’s put this into perspective – you attempted to enlist the help of somebody who finished third on the 2003 season of Nashville Star (which for the record has been off the air for five years) to help you out with a song on the new Megadeth CD, AND SHE SAID NO? Is there anything less metal than the way that whole story ended? There are levels of weak that haven’t even been defined yet which won’t even accept that fact into their circle of sorriness.
We’ll talk more about the business end of this record here in a second, but let’s look at what makes it lacking on the musical side of things. The record’s first track “Kingmaker” is about painkiller abuse and dependence. A familiar topic these days, but I think by this point in Dave’s career he has pretty much exhausted the analogies to “kings” and queens” so it falls flat and by the end of the track it just sounds corny. Mustaine had originally said that when he was writing this record he had intended to write more with his heart, which is fine but keep in mind this is supposed to be thrash metal. If too much of “your heart” shines through in your work, you’re opening yourself up to the possibility of ridicule. The next track is the title track which is decent, but then the next two songs are very disappointing. Song six is called “Dance in the Rain” and features David Draiman from Disturbed, so if you’re a fan of his vocals you might dig that one a bit. But if you’re not, it can last an eternity and I’m sure if you’re on this webpage you’re in the second category. Seven to ten are nothing special, and you certainly won’t find anything in that range getting stuck in your head anytime soon. The record ends with a cover of Thin Lizzy’s “Cold Sweat”, which is a good song but has no business anywhere on the record.
One of the most puzzling things I found here was that it seemed to me that the tracks that were very thrashy and speedy didn’t sound like either. This was the first disc that the band has made since 1997’s “Cryptic Writings” where the lineup was the same as the previous album, so it’s not an issue of a lack of the band sounding tight – it’s something that’s difficult to put my finger on. Perhaps it’s that with everything going on in the faster tracks, it’s that everything sounds washed in the mix? I can’t really figure it out, but whatever it is it definitely doesn’t work.
I’m not the only one who is panning this disc, it’s getting negative reviews pretty much everywhere you look and those reviews are well deserved. A lot of the reviews say that Dave is attempting to become more commercial with his music, which I guess I don’t fully understand because there aren’t a whole lot of modern rock radio stations streaming Megadeth at the moment.
What’s most difficult to understand about this CD is that it’s not really commercial OR old-school. That’s the kiss of death in the metal business because it means two things: 1) You’re not going to sell a lot of records; and 2) you’re going to alienate what few fans that you have left that came to know your music through your earlier material. But the ultimate test to me is the fact that after a couple times through, I had absolutely no desire to listen to this album again at all. There were a couple of tracks that I skipped over about a minute in, and nothing really grabbed me as being memorable.
Additionally, I don’t understand why he chose to release his new record when Black Dahlia Murder and Black Sabbath were putting out new releases just seven days later. He could have easily waited until the end of the summer when the releases were more spread apart. (or at least when the most influential heavy metal band of all time wasn’t putting out their new album a week later) Perhaps this has something to do with the fact that this is the first Megadeth release that Mustaine has put out on his new label Tradecraft, which Universal specifically created just for him. So it’s possible that he now has so much control that he can be as arrogant as humanly possible with everything from drafting a riff all the way to the shrink wrap that’s put on the product. And if anybody can redefine the extent to which one can be arrogant, Dave is that guy eight times over.
Overall the word “forgettable” keeps coming up when I think about this record as a whole. It isn’t on any “must have” list, even for a collector. Even though Mustaine is a legend, I don’t feel the least bit guilty about giving the album a couple steps downfrom a high F. Not the worst record in the world, but definitely forgettable and in the case of thrash metal – that’s always worse.
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