Metal’s best guitarist, Dave Mustaine. What a nice ring that has.
Bearing a new lineup for the first time is getting to be old news for Dave Mustaine and Megadeth. The man has gone through countless musicians over the years, most noticeably since drummer Nick Menza, guitarist Marty Friedman, and longtime bassist Dave Ellefson left the group years ago. It seems that each new release of Megadeth material means someone new has replaced the last “new” musician. They come and go, guitarists riffing and shredding for a release or tour, then leaving for reasons you can read on the Internet. It doesn’t really matter, after all, because Megadeth is always going to be home to Mustaine. Megadeth as a band hasn’t existed for several years now. It’s Mustaine assembling musicians who will play his creations the way he wants.
While I used to have a serious problem with that, probably rooted in the innocent vision that bands are friends first that happen to play music together, I think this is the release that makes me think “I don’t really care if it’s new musicians.” It’s no longer an issue for me. Finally, Mustaine has written or co-written the strong material I’ve been seeking to cleanse my system of those initial thoughts.
And if one song alone were going to sway me, it would be “Dialectic Chaos,” the scorching 2:25 instrumental that kicks off the release. Setting the tone for riffs that transcend the fret board with interesting structure and clarity, it is immediately clear that the riffs on “Chaos” and the rest of the release are going to be thick and heavy. Both staples of Mustaine’s work, there is something particularly special about this material. Mustaine quickly continues the momentum with the snarling vocals on “This Day We Fight.” In “44 Minutes,” the morbid reference to 44 minutes of target practice provides a frame for the third track. Spinning a tale about AK-47s being used to gun down police officers us the first glimpse into what is on Mustaine’s mind. He is still fixated on going fast. Dating back to “High Speed Dirt” on 1992’s Countdown To Extinction, there is a reference going fast in “1,320.” This song would have perfect for drummer Shawn Drover to provide a memorable fill, but when the guitars drop out, the fill he plays is embarrassingly too simple for the rest of the surrounding music. In this case, less is more sounds out of place.
The only song that starts out without guitar riffs going ballistic is “The Hardest Part Of Letting Go … Sealed With A Kiss.” I was disappointed that Mustaine hopelessly mires the song in the cliché and relies on lyrics that have been used in other songs by other bands. When Mustaine sings about seeing “you across the room” and “If you love someone, you have to let them go / The hardest part of letting go is saying goodbye.” Enough already! Hasn’t this song been sung by others? Do we really need this? Thankfully, the electric guitars enter with a galloping thrash metal riff. The first 1:35 of the song is painful, however.
But that’s a minor quibble compared to the rest of the strong material on this release. Mustaine and his league of supporting characters sound invigorated and ready to make thrash metal relevant again. With a lot of the charts saturated by country albums and albums from various Disney franchises, Endgame couldn’t have arrived at a better time.