June 16, 2013 by Dan Swinhoe
Despite the generous review I gave Megadeth’s previous outing, Th1rt3een, most of Mustaine’s post-millennium work has been satisfactory at best, and turgid at worst. Each album has seen the band trying trying to balance the melodies with attempts to hark back to a thrash past.
In the bands newest album, Super Collider, this internal conflict has spawned a complete mess. Almost all traces of actual thrash has been replaced with stale hard rock. Opener Kingmaker makes a good show of it, kicking the album off with a little bass flourish before some frantic uptempo riffing, but it’s mostly downhilll from there.
The title track is mid tempo stadium rock, while Built For War attempts to sound muscular but doesn’t go beyond standard cliched Megadeth riffs. Burn! is pure lowest common denominator rock, with the painfully cheesey lyrics “Burn, baby, burn! ‘cause it feels so good Burn, baby, burn! Like I knew it would.” For any band it would be poor form, but from the guy who was once known for his astute lyrics, it’s bordering embarrassing.
While the playing might be average, Chris Broderick can keep his head held high. His solos light up each track he’s allowed to let rip on, but often it’s over all to quickly. There are odd moments where the riffs sound like they might be building to something good, and there are still plenty of catchy vocal hooks, but the lasting impression leaves a sour taste.
One of Super Collider‘s main problems is too many forgettable numbers; Off The Edge, Beginning Of Sorrow, Forget To Remember; they all have a few moments of hopefull shredding before drifting off into obscurity. Dance In The Rain probably the most memorable, a government-bashing spoken word opening over a creeping riffs, before building into a melodic chorus and squealing solos, before building into something that could be defined as actual thrash (and though Disturbed’s David Draiman does feature, it’s not horrendous). It’s a brief respite from an otherwise tepid experience; even the cover of Thin Lizzy’s classic Cold Sweat sounds tired (See it should be done here).
As well as lacking any killer riffs, Dave’s voice is pretty much shot. Where once he was full of wails, and menace, his vocal register for the whole album rarely goes above low growl, with the occasional overexertion. As one reviewer put it; “Dave’s voice is gone, presumably he spent it yelling at clouds“. Given Daves public outbursts and controversial interviews, it would be very easy to take plenty more pot shots at the person. But he’s made it so much easier with Super Collider. Where once Megadeth sounded dangerous, full of adventerous and interesting music, today they’re sterile, bland and lacking any perceivable passion.
The two bonus tracks, All I Want and A House Divided, are great examples of the problem modern Megadeth have. The formers is a painfully attempt at a hard rock number, and possibly the worst thing Mustaine has released, while the latter is a half decent attempt at a political thrasher, complete with a horn section.
Super Collider isn’t a terrible album. If you didn’t know any better, you might like the accessiblity, or the easy to folllow lyrics. But for anyone with any fond memories of Megadeth, it lacks any bite, consistency or killer tunes, anything that could really hold up well against any past MD albums. With first week sales half that of Th1rt3en, this could well be the band’s lowest moment.
By Dan Swinhoe