This album is invariably historically important and holds a story of its own displayed within the span of 11 tracks. That story is the audio autobiographical downfall of one of Thrash’s greatest musicians, capturing the agonizing whimper of Dave Mustaine as he fades out from greatness and fully embraces mediocrity following in METALLICA’s footsteps. The countdown is over and this album is Dave’s ego swallowing Thrash and regurgitating radio friendly Hard Rock.
What the hell happened? Faster, louder and harder than METALLICA? My ass. The riffs on this album have lost all intensity, trading in heaviness and aggression for catchiness and accessibility. The guitar-work, as well as the vocal approach, is quite melodic and tame (read: Boring). Dave’s vocal work has never been top-notch, but it reaches new lows with the melodic compositions found on this album. When he’s wailing, “No Escaping Pain/You Belong To Me/Clinging On To Life/By The Skin O’ My Teeth”, I cannot help but feel sorry for him.
The solos found spread throughout the disc are technically impressive although suffer from having the lethality of their duration stripped from their very existence due to the fact that the songs themselves found here are mediocre at best. Many of the tracks rely on a single main riff with two or three variations and they just build and build and drive that riff into the ground. This is displayed aptly on “Symphony Of Destruction” which is quite an interesting composition. This track alone proves Dave is not totally without an ounce of songwriting ability in his body. The main riff rocks quite hard but that riff alone does not make a good song. The vocals don’t work on this track as well and when combined with the single riff holding up the duration of a 4 minute song this lackluster track bearing great potential is not allowed to develop.
Like the main riff in “Symphony Of Destruction” the album does bear strands of potential throughout its duration. The slow galloping riff found on “Foreclosure Of A Dream” sounds promising and would become quite solid if sped up to 250 beats per minute. “Sweating Bullets” is also relatively solid and proves the best composition on the album. This is mainly due to the fact of its unique nature, snarling vocal approach and decent riffage. With that being said it is no “Good Mourning/Black Friday” or “Holy Wars…” Even this track bears that injection of Melodic Rock at around the 3 minute mark where it totally collapses and leaves you wanting to skip to the next song.
I never understood why so many ‘DETH fans praise this album yet later releases would get so much shit flung at them. This belongs with those later albums, as this is not the MEGADETH I know and love. How Dave can follow up the amazing “Rust In Peace” with an album that is average at best is beyond me. Perhaps I could have been slightly more forgiving if this album contained even one good Thrasher, but unfortunately in cannot succeed in kicking my ass in the slightest. This is not Thrash. This is Dave Mustaine leaving genius behind…genius which he would never find again. (Online June 20, 2005)