The World Needs A Hero
Sanctuary Records, 2001
REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 05/10/2001
You've got to hand it to Dave Mustaine and the other members of Megadeth. While metal has not regained the stranglehold it had on the charts back in the mid- to late-'80s, Mustaine and crew have continued to slug away with the music they love. Yet despite making some major steps forward, such as getting significant airplay for songs like "Trust," "Almost Honest" and "Breadline," Megadeth has been rewarded with dwindling album sales with each release.
Obviously, someone's clock needed to be cleaned - and Mustaine has responded in recent years by wiping the slate almost completely clean. Drummer Jimmy DeGrasso came on board for Risk, while guitarist Al Pitrelli is the latest addition to the group. Megadeth has left Capitol Records, the only home they had known for well over a decade, and changed many aspects of their business dealings as well.
But the only thing they haven't changed is their approach towards the music, as proven by their latest release The World Needs A Hero. It might not be the return to speed metal and crunching power chords that some have been praying for since Countdown To Extinction, but it's a more solid effort than the experimental Risk - and it's also the most emotionally raw release they've ever done.
In all fairness to Pitrelli, while his talents on the guitar are clearly heard throughout The World Needs A Hero, he hasn't yet come into his own in Megadeth - but after replacing Marty Friedmann, one can understand that it will take Pitrelli some time to make this role in the band his own. Mustaine's vocal sneer is still as omnipresent as it has always been, but he does branch out and takes more of a chance with spoken vocal lines peppered throughout the disc.
The trio of songs which opens The World Needs A Hero marks a new direction for Megadeth, even if "Disconnect" does have hints of "Trust" scattered through its structure. The title track, quite possibly, is the most solid of the bunch, merging the harder-edged and more melodic worlds that Megadeth has straddled over the last few years. "Moto Psycho" is a much harder rocking song than "Crush 'Em" (from Risk) could ever have hoped to be, and it hints at some true power to follow.
What follows, instead, is emotion that is so pure that it sometimes seems impossible to think that Mustaine created this out of thin air. Drawing on the pain, self-doubt, anger and acceptance that comes from ending a long-term relationship, "1000 Times Goodbye" kicks things off - with a kick to the gut. Tracks such as "Burning Bridges," "Promises" (the latter co-written with Pitrelli) and "When" all trace the uncharted emotional path that far too many people can relate to - and, just like in real life, it doesn't tie up neatly with a happy ending.
Depite the pure emotion running through the veins of some of these songs, occasionally the music is weakened because of the power of the message. "1000 Times Goodbye" reads more like an angry "fuck you" letter, losing focus on the actual songwriting. In turn, the whole song suffers. Likewise, while I respect the spiritual side of Mustaine and the desire to try to put some kind of positive spin on events in this suite of songs, "Losing My Senses" doesn't quite deliver the goods as one would hope they would.
But not all the fault lies in this area of The World Needs A Hero; indeed, many of these songs are among Megadeth's best in years. "Silent Scorn" works... until the introduction of trumpet, which all but kills the mood. "Return To Hangar" is a passing nod to "Hangar 18" from Rust In Peace, but it doesn't even come close to matching the power and ferociousness of the original.
Depsite the few flaws, The World Needs A Hero is a more solid album from Megadeth than Risk was - though to hold it up to a wonder like Cryptic Writings sometimes doesn't seem fair. If there was any feeling that Megadeth was going the way of other metal acts like "the band formerly known as Metallica," abandoning their roots for what was popular, then The World Needs A Hero should slam that door shut on those fears.