Album Review: Megadeth – Super Collider
Like most Megadeth fans, I look forward to every release with anticipation. I have my favorites, Rust in Peace and Countdown to Extinction – goes without saying doesn’t it? I even liked Risk and I thought their previous release Th1rt3en was a pretty good return-to-form Megadeth album. I definitely call myself a fan which is why reviewing their material is somewhat difficult for me. I don’t want to be another fanboy, but I also don’t want to be disappointed like anyone who is a fan of anything. I want it to be good! Therefore, after leaving the bias at the door I must first separate my personal feelings of the band’s music and listen to Super Collider objectively. It really isn’t that hard to do. Second, I have to remove all the not-so-pleasant memories of Dave Mustaine opening his mouth and putting his foot in it. That’s a little harder to do. Seriously, if I stopped listening to music based on individual douchebagery, my music library might be pretty thin. In front of me is a physical copy of Super Collider, treating my ear drums to Megadeth’s latest creation in a long illustrious career. And as objectively as I can, here is my review of their 14th album. I am using a technique I rarely use, but this is a live play by play as I listen…distractions turned off.
I love the intro to Kingmaker. I love the fact that Junior starts off the song with a little bass ditty like a throwback to Peace Sells. I don’t think there is a more promising way to open a Megadeth album than with a bass riff…takes the mind right back to Peace Sells…But Who’s Buying. Overall, the song represents Megadeth quite well…a really good start. And then the road to Hard Rock hell begins…Super Collider is very reminiscent of any song on Risk. Though not necessarily a bad thing, this kind of Megadeth song takes time to get used to especially when a song like Kingmaker has the balls and chunk you expect from Megadeth. Super Collider is a very radio friendly Hard Rock song which is not to say it sucks, but not what I was expecting. Burn is a bit more of the same, but a tad heavier and starts off with a cool solo. Solos are good! Overall, nothing that gets my blood pumping so far, but we are only three songs in. Ok, no lying I’m starting to worry a bit.
I like the riffing on Built for War. My hopes are getting back to a comfortable zone. One other thing I am noticing besides riffs and shit like that is lyrically there is something lacking. Where is the political disdain that riddles most of Megadeth’s catalog? As of now, Kingmaker is the most redeemable song while the last three songs are riding plane of mediocrity. And now we have Off The Edge. Lyrically, it sounds like a song about Mustaine’s turbulent personal life. It’s a tried and true method of songwriting. Alanis Morrissette sure made a lot of money doing it. Musically, the song has a nice riff and flow to it while we are still treading riffy waters of Risk/Cryptic Writings. Again, it isn’t horrible to compare Super Collider to those older more commercialized albums, but I have a feeling this is as good as it’s going to get.
Dance in the Rain certainly isn’t the kind of song title that gives me promise, but it’s actually not bad. It kicks off with a talking part which Dave has done several times over Megadeth’s career, Go To Hell for example. This is one of the songs where former Disturbed frontman Dave Draiman makes a guest appearance, but honestly I never noticed until the second listen. And no, I am not on the second listen already, I had to come back to insert this factoid. It does get very “Megadeth” during the last minute of the song…good quick riffs and some double bass on the drumming. Yay! Since Kingmaker, this is my next favorite song so far. It is another radio friendly song, but still good. Beginning of Sorrow welcomes Junior on the bass gain to start the song. Dave and Dave must be getting along quite well. I could see Lacuna Coil doing this song. It has a familiar flair to it. There are some good alternating solos with an acoustic part in the middle, but it’s still more of the Hard Rock appeal.
The Blackest of Crow is track #8 and its intro is taking me back to the South for a minute. I think they even used a slide guitar for this. Check facts…yes they did. I’m hoping it fools me and turns out to be the most bad-ass song on the album. Wait for it…nope. It reminds me of something Megadeth has done before, but I can’t quite place it right now. Super Collider is staying the course up to this point and not really moving too far from its comfort zone. Forget to Remember is catchy I’ll give it that. It has a nice hook and the solos are intricate, but short. The blues influenced Don’t Turn Your Back is next and actually has a pleasant intro and then kicks into something I have been waiting for; double bass – check; riffing – check; can hear the bass – yes. Lyrically, not angst-ridden like I hoped, but this sounds more like Megadeth-era Youthanasia. Oh, and that bluesy thing was just the intro; pretty cool though.
The album is just about over now and Cold Sweat is the last of Super Collider’s original material although it is a Thin Lizzy cover song. It’s been a very long time since a cover song graced an actual album. It’s another humdinger of a Megadeth song (cover) as far as the guitars go…probably the best trade-off solos on the album. The additional bonus tracks are called All I Want and A House Divided. They are nice additions where that latter of the two is more on the heavier side compared to the rest of the album. Countdown to Extinction live is also included as a bonus track. No complaints with that song…though it’s funny of all the live songs they could have added to this album, they take one that is pretty much a Megaballad. It fits right in.
After having read what I just wrote during the initial listen, it may appear that I really liked that album. Though I do like it, it’s just not that special. I suppose that’s bound to happen with any band…sometimes more than once. Could I be more vague and bland? The truth is it doesn’t suck. It doesn’t suck because Dave and his cohorts are crafty musicians. I am not one to normally comment on lyrics, but I feel this is the weakest part of the album. Since I actually have a physical copy of the CD I thought I would take a gander at verbiage in addition to what I could take away from Dave’s snarly vocals. The angst is gone and there is nothing to be pissed off about. Boo! Perhaps Dave’s chosen path of the righteous has made him less angry at politics…or at least more tolerant. Is righteousness and tolerance possible? I hoped they would take the momentum they gained from Th1rt3en, take off with it, and kick our asses. Instead, we have some solid finger-snapping Hard Rock with occasional glimmers of the days of old. At the end of the day, that’s ok. Just…ok. You know, I think I am going to spin Risk again.