So here lies the third and final chapter in the trilogy of MEGADETH'S new sound that started with "Countdown To Extinction". I must say it was a change I came to somewhat enjoy with time once I finished the twelve stages of grief I required in saying goodbye to the "we fuckin' rule" MEGADETH that graced us with "Rust In Peace".
"Rust In Peace" was all about the riffs and man were they cool. What an intense and complex CD. Here's what changed: Dave stepped up the snarls and slowed the pace. He plain-and-simply simplified the sound (can you say radio?) There was an obvious attempt to increase their fan-base like you-know-whollica did with the "One" video. You may be surprised that I did not mention METALLICA's "Black" album in above, but it is for good reason. Dave and 'DETH released "Countdown To Extinction" just before the sandman entered and began to enjoy finally overcoming the former mates that dissed him but before you know it he was again driving down envy road and we all know from history that his wheels were green.
So the moral of the story above is "Rust In Peace" is godly and the three CDs that followed are not…but they are pretty good.
So, on with the review! Well, first things first - I spy a terribly uninteresting and very safe cover and me thinks this is intentional so as not to scare off potential new listeners or their parents. One only needs to look at all their covers that preceded this release for confirmation. Face it; babies hanging from a clothes-line may not help sales. Ok, lots of great albums have bad covers; what about the music?
Overall, there is a loss of the angry edge that was still there on "Countdown". I remember worrying about this happening when I learned Dan Huff from the mediocre and very melodic Rock band GIANT was producing. Did he take away the edge? Probably - I don't know for sure but I'm content with the overall production.
I like the opener "Trust" because of its guitar groove and its mid-song spoken word change of pace. Normally I like my Thrash bands (if you can still call them that :)) to lead off with a killer up-tempo rocker but this will do. Bassy "Almost Honest" maintains the groove and was a commercially killer song. This song has a deadly guitar riff. So, we're near faultless to this point. I still can't decide if "Use The Man" needs the "Needles And Pins" intro but there it is. The song is ok…definitely gets better near the end when the tempo picks up…more Metal at that speed. "Mastermind" riffs out and "The Disintegrators" clips along at breakneck speed (like old-school 'DETH)…about time. I don't much care for the chorus in "I'll Get Even With You" and the song is too mellow and lacks substance. "Sin" is an awesome tune because of the pace, riff and vocals. It's all there for me. "She-Wolf" with its wicked rhythm guitar and cool right hand picking follows a couple filler tracks with an intense and aggressive feel. The album closes well with "Vortex" and "FFF".
So there you have it folks - my final words on the platter from MEGADETH before their disastrous "Risk" album. I could never give this the same grade as "Countdown To Extinction" because, well that one was so much better! It almost approaches the calibre of "Youthanasia" though. This CD is worth hearing and is likely in all true Metalheads collections already. If you have any of their CDs preceding this one and are a fan, you won't be disappointed. If you only have their "Risk" album and you like it at all, please leave this review and site now…you are not a Metalhead and I cannot help you. (Online May 13, 2003)