Roadrunner, 2011

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


Dave Mustaine and Megadeth had to be the living proof of the old saying: If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

From the band’s resurgence with The World Needs A Hero, Megadeth’s musical style never altered much from album to album (though the backing band continued to be a revolving door in terms of membership). While they had returned to a harder edge in terms of their music, they never completely rejected the commercial aspect of the sound, either—and, in a way, achieved what Metallica never was completely able to do in terms of their music.

Th1rt3en, the 13th studio effort from Megadeth, continued the trend musically, though it was a slight step up from their previous effort Endgame, in that Mustaine sounded a little more interested in what the band was producing. And while the material still doesn’t have the lasting power that their earlier albums had, it proves to be an entertaining outing.

Welcoming back bassist David Ellefson to the fold, Megadeth comes out of the gate with all guns blazing; the three-song set of “Sudden Death,” “Public Enemy No. 1” and “Whose Life (Is It Anyways?)” suggest a return to form; while none of the songs could be considered instant radio fodder, there was enough of a commercial bend to the overall metal sound to please fans of both styles of music.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Pound for pound, there are more successes on Th1rt3en than there are failures—compared to Endgame, this is a step in the right direction. One track featuring writing credits from former members Marty Friedman and the late Nick Menza, “New World Order,” shows why that era of Megadeth was as successful as it was, and current members Chris Broderick and Shawn Drover execute their contributions perfectly. Similarly, “Never Dead,” “Wrecker” and “Fast Lane” all show that, even into their third decade as a band, Megadeth was not showing signs of slowing down.

Yet all is not perfect with this disc. “Guns, Drugs, & Money” is a decent enough track, but it does seem to be leaning more towards trying to gain more commercial acceptance (and the sounds of a Spanish cantina at the end of the song tend to be a bit distracting). A few other tracks like “Black Swan” and “Deadly Nightshade” start off strong, but fail to deliver on their early promise. And I can’t say that closing the disc with a slightly slower number in “13” was the best move, as it proves to be the weakest track on the album.

Megadeth still seems like they are trying to grab onto the golden ring of immortality, but like many of the albums that preceded this disc, they don’t have the same lasting power that the classic albums like Rust In Peace do. Perhaps it’s a case that time will improve the overall view of albums like this one, but it seems unlikely that people would reach for Th1rt3en over the earlier classics.

It’s not that Th1rt3en is a bad disc, and I fully understand that if they tried to recreate the magic of a disc like Rust In Peace, I’d probably be taking them to task for trying to capture lightning twice. This is still an enjoyable effort, and marginally better than their previous effort, so it’s still well worth checking out. But there’s still that one part of me that finds myself wishing that Mustaine and crew would just throw caution to the wind and try to create the modern-day thrash masterpiece.

Rating: B-

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