Over the weekend and doing without Internets, I decided to listen to Endgame, the newest album by Megadeth. Let’s begin the review:
I’ve been a fan of Megadeth since the Countdown to Extinction era, although I was a casual fan back then. I enjoyed their radio hits like Symphony of Destruction and Angry Again, which I still think is one of then-lead guitarist Marty Friedman’s best solos, alibiet one of his simplest.
It wasn’t until around when Guitar Hero II came out, with Hanger 18 on it, that I began to look deeper into Megadeth’s discography to find all the good stuff that I was missing by sticking to only the Megadeth that I heard on the radio, especially albums like Rust In Peace and Peace Sells…But Who’s Buying.
Since Megadeth frontman/guitarist Dave Mustaine acquired new lead guitarist Chris Broderick, formerly of Jag Panzer and Nevermore, back in early 2008, many fans including myself have been wondering what this new guy will bring to the arsenal of Megadeth. Read on, Megafan!
Comparisons to Metallica have plagued Megadeth since the very beginning, and when comparing Metallica’s Death Magnetic to Endgame and seeing which band came the closest to how they were at their peak, it’s got to be Megadeth.
Granted, Metallica put out some killer material for Death Magnetic and I’m excited that they’re returning to their older style, but Megadeth has worked long and hard to put their over-commercialized and quite frankly un-Megadeth albums like Risk behind them.
The first single Head Crusher reminds me of the crazy-ass Peace Sells era, and even a little bit of the So Far So Good So What era with the oft-ignored Jeff Young on lead guitar. Poor-poor Jeff, but I digress…
Many a Megadeth fan cringed when they heard the acoustic intro to The Hardest Part of Letting Go…Sealed With a Kiss. Megadeth and grandpa’s guitars? Yeah, like it’s never been done before *coughAToutLaMondecough*. If you can stand to wait a minute or so, then you’ll be treated to an interesting combination of Megadeth and a string orchestra. It honestly reminds me of the Trans-Siberian Orchestra, if it was lead by Dave Mustaine. Fun Fact: Al Pitrelli, the lead guitarist that replaced Marty Friedman after he left in January 2000, plays a major part in the Trans-Siberian Orchestra as well as plays in it.
Broderick’s playing style has been compared frequently to Marty Friedman’s, whereas the previous lead guitarist Glen Drover’s style had been compared to Chris Poland’s, although I think that Broderick’s style is closer to Mustaine’s than anyone else’s. Some might call this a complement, and in most regards it is.
However, in the context of Megadeth where the guitar’s leadwork can switch players at the drop of a hat, it’s best when both players have a unique style so that we can tell each player apart when they’re doing their thing. It’s one of the reasons why the Mustaine/Friedman lineup is considered the best, although the Mustaine/Poland lineup produced some of the scariest guitar playing of the 80s this side of Cacophony and Racer X.
If you liked or at least tolorated the style of Megadeth’s previous album United Abominations, then you’ll be in fairly familiar territory, especially when it comes to Mustaine’s vocals. I miss his Alice Cooper-esque snarl, which has turned into more of an Andrew W.K.-esque grunt over the years. Not that it’s a bad thing, but it just doesn’t work on every single song.
Dave’s vocals have little to no change in tone and intention from song to song, unlike during the Rust In Peace and Countdown To Extinction eras where he would switch up between his trademark snarl and growl as well as switch to a surprisingly good singing voice. We’re not talking good from a technical level like Christina Aguilara, but a much better singing voice than one would expect from someone with a vocal style like Dave.
Ever since Dave stopped using Jackson Guitars and switched to using other brands like ESP and now Dean Guitars, I’ve noticed that his tone has gotten a lot bassier and less trebley. Although it still sounds like Dave, I do miss that extra bit of treble that made his guitar tone sizzle.
Chris Broderick, while quite the impressive player who’s been talked of highly by Dave in many interviews (even once comparing finding Broderick to Ozzy finding Randy Rhoads), doesn’t seem to have found his own style within Megadeth. I listened to some of his older material to gain a better perspective on his overall style, and it seems that while he appears to be a very stiff guitar player, every once in awhile he cuts loose and it’s fun to watch him go to town.
He hits all the right notes cleanly and everything and is definitely the best lead guitarist Megadeth has had since Marty Friedman (just watch him play a Megadeth classic like Tornado of Souls), but he needs to put more of himself into his playing or else he’ll just be another guitarist trying in vein to outshine Chris Poland and Marty Friedman.
Despite having a new lead guitarist who hasn’t found a distinguishable style, inevitable and eternal comparisons to Metallica, and vocals that lack dynamics, Megadeth’s Endgame is still proof positive that classic thrash and speed metal still runs strong without having to tune down to Drop-Z like everyone else currently in the metal genre.
Tracks To Give a Clicky-Click
– Head Crusher
– How The Story Ends
– 44 Minutes
– Dialectic Chaos
– Bite The Hand
– The Hardest Part of Letting Go…Sealed With a Kiss (just make it past the 1:42 mark, guys!)
P.S: Thanks for all of your comments and support over the years! If it weren’t for you guys, I wouldn’t have made it to this, my 100th video!!! Here’s to many more videos!!!