Thursday, 18 July 2013

Megadeth's 'Super Collider' - Album Review

Being one of the 'Big 4 of Thrash Metal', a new Megadeth album is always highly anticipated within the metal community and the hype is always huge and often over the top. For my money, Megadeth have always been the most inventive and varied of the 'Big 4' so expecting them to keep reproducing the same album over and over again is foolish. Since reforming just under a decade ago, the band have been on a great run of form particularly with 2007's United Abominations and 2009's Endgame, with the later being lifted to new hights with the addition of super-shredder Chris Broderick to the band's line-up. Whilst 2011's TH1RT3EN was a slight disappointment for me, Super Collider is definately a step back in the right direction even if it does not reach the hights of Endgame or the band's classic early 1990s output. Super Collider is probably the band's most varied album since reforming. Not content to rest on their laurels, the band have strived to cover new ground and, on the whole, I believe that this had paid off for them. I am also surprised at the overall negative response that this album seems to have gotten, even amongst the band's hardcore fanbase. Granted, this is certainly not their best album, but I think there is plenty to be enjoyed here.

Things get underway with the ferocious metal of Kingmaker. From the outset, it is clear that band leader Dave Mustaine's trademark snarling vocals are as good as ever. He is one of the view people in the genre who has a perfect balance of aggression and melody in his voice, and either trait can be deployed when needed. The chorus on this song is one of the moments when the melodic side of his voice really shines and it is catchy as hell to boot. The album's first single and title track follows and this sees the band taking on a different style. This is much more of a 'hard rock' song as apposed to a 'metal' one and I think this contributed to a lot of the backlash before the album was released. Give the song a chance however, and you will find it growing on you - I find the chorus to be quite infectious! In any case, it is not like the band really have anything to prove anymore. Burn! is up next and this has a very traditional Megadeth sound being mid-paced rocker with a guitar sound and style that only they could pull off. I particularly like the snaking guitar work and drumming the chorus even if the lyrics are not some of Mustaine's best. Built for War gets back to the heavy-riffing sound of Kingmaker and rushes out of the gate at a good speed. Shawn Drover's double-kick drumming helps the song pound along (incidentally, he is also credited as co-writing the song). I have always been a fan of his sound and style and it is good to hear him in full flow here. The next highlight for me is Dance in the Rain. It has a very Countdown to Extinction feel, with Mustaine's 'spoken' delivery sounding good as ever on this style of song. The chorus riff is great and it is another catchy one. The song also features some guest vocals from David Draiman (Disturbed; Device) who adds his unique and strong voice to the overall sound and mood of the song.

The next song of note is The Blackest Crow. This is another example of the band trying something new with an almost folk-esque introduction. It works surprisingly well within the context of the track and the banjo mixes well with the guitar backing. Again, it is a reasonably slow song but it still manages to create a moody atmosphere and the folk elements only add to this. Up next is Forget to Remember which, like the title track, follows a much more traditional hard rock blueprint but it has a really great chorus and some nice crunchy palm-muted guitar work in the verses. Overall, it is just a really solid rock tune that is likely to become and earworm for many. Don't Turn Your Back... follows which, after a clean intro, turns into a real metal monster with more big drumming from Drover and nice fat bassline from David Ellefson that really helps to make the song sound huge. There is a really great, melodic guitar solo after the first chorus that really shines. The album comes to an end with a solid, if uncreative, cover of Thin Lizzy's Cold Sweat. It is very similar to the original but Megadeth manage to do it justice with some tidy guitar work and Mustaine's snarling vocals are in stark contrast to Phil Lynott's more soulful delivery on the original - even if it was probably the heaviest song Thin Lizzy ever recorded! Overall, I find this album to be a solid piece of work that contains a few experiments that have, mostly, worked well. Mustaine and co. still clearly have plenty in the tank and this new album is another to add to their extensive and largely impressive back catalogue.

The album was released on 3rd June 2013 via Tradecraft/Universal Music Group. Below is the band's promotional video for Super Collider.

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