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Album Review: MEGADETH “Super Collider” Deluxe Edition (2013)

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Before I begin this review, let me make my biases known.

I am a major-league Megadeth fan. I am a card-carrying member of the Megadeth Cyber Army. If you look at the “about” page of this blog, you will see me happily nestled between the two MegaDaves, singer/guitarist Dave Mustaine and bassist David Ellefson.

Naturally, I was very excited about the release of the band’s latest effort, Super Collider.

With Super Collider, you can’t just say something like, “It’s Cryptic Writings-meets-Th1rt3en” and be accurate. SC is truly a culmination of all things ‘Deth, with some flashbacks to their thrashier days, elements of their more melodic and experimental albums like Risk, and the newer 2000s material. If you were expecting Rust in Peace II, you will be disappointed. But if you approach it with an open mind, you might be pleased.

SC kicks off with “Kingmaker”, which was released as a single approximately two weeks ago. It renewed people’s faith in Super Collider after so many had been disillusioned by the previous single, the 70s-road-trip-rock title track. “Kingmaker” is like a cross between Black Sabbath’s “Children of the Grave” and ‘Deth’s own “Sweating Bullets,” a tribute to the band’s own musical heritage while adding the thrash elements Megadeth have become known for.

Then comes the infamous “Super Collider,” in a very stark contrast to the opening song. For those who haven’t heard it, it sounds more like Foghat than Megadeth. It’s a middle-of-the-road hard rock song that doesn’t really go anywhere. Mustaine revealed that the band filmed a humorous music video to promote the lead single, and perhaps his intention behind the song will be known once the video is released.

The title “Burn!” sounds like Mustaine’s yell in “Take No Prisoners,” but the song itself is an average rocker, with a chorus that feels more at home in a KISS, Motley Crüe, or even a disco song (“Burn, baby burn… ’cause it feels so good”).

“Built For War” is definitely the worst song on the album, maybe even Megadeth’s worst song, period. Meme Theater posted a review of the album right after it leaked, and their critique of this track says it all:

“…it feels like there was Megadeth playing a toned down Megadeth song in one room while Dave Mustaine sings an unrelated melody and lyrical arrangement in another room, while a 2ND DAVE MUSTAINE stood in yet another separate room in said ‘Built for War!’ at random times, as bored as possible…”

“Off the Edge” has a very nice, dark intro and segues into an average metal song but with sub-par lyrics, at least for Megadeth (“Lately, it seems the world is going crazy / It won’t be long till they replace me / And nothing seems to faze me, anymore”). Think of “Fast Lane” from Th1rt3en, but with worse lyrics.

“Dance in the Rain” is the turning point of this album. David Draiman (Disturbed, Device) lends songwriting and guest vocals to this amazing song, which is one of Megadeth’s best since Youthanasia. The song is about American politicians/government taking advantage of We The People as we struggle to make ends meet. It reminds me why I love Megadeth in the first place: chugging guitar rhythms, Shawn Drover’s fast feet at the double bass drums, Chris Broderick’s wailing leads perfectly complementing Dave Mustaine’s eternally stark lyrics. The song starts off slow and progressively speeds up, eventually ripping into a blazing riff and brutal drums backing Draiman’s powerhouse vocals. It would be right at home on United Abominations or Endgame.

“Beginning of Sorrow” is another good , somewhat slow song with heavy lyrical content, about a neglected child. Mustaine’s daughter Electra contributes some backing vocals.

“The Blackest Crow” is one of the most anticipated songs on this album, since video previews on the band’s website showed instruments like a banjo, fiddle, and slide guitar being used. There were also talks of country legend Willie Nelson guesting on this track. Though Nelson did not appear, the song does its hype justice, serving as a strange but pleasant bridge between bluegrass and heavy metal.

Mustaine wrote “Forget To Remember” about his mother-in-law, who has Alzheimer’s disease. Though it is an upbeat song for Megadeth, the lyrics are some of their most poignant: “If this is living, what the hell is living for? / You’ve boarded up your eyes, your mind has locked the door”. Broderick’s fills and Mustaine’s voice are beautifully in sync, with the fogginess of some of Mustaine’s vocal lines possibly representing the fogginess of the woman’s memory. This is definitely a highlight of the album, though it is more radio-friendly than most Deth fans are used to.

“Don’t Turn Your Back…” starts off with an impressive bluesy guitar solo and progresses into a badass riff, then into a poppy chorus with more cheesy lyrics (“The best advice I can lend is / Don’t ever turn your back on a friend”). Kinda My Little Pony for Megadeth, even though the musical elements are fantastic.

Though “Cold Sweat” is a Thin Lizzy cover, ironically, it is one of the most Megadeth-sounding songs on the album. Great cover that sounds at home on Endgame.

“All I Want”, the first bonus track, has a vibe similar to Th1rt3en’s “Wrecker” and has obvious KISS influences in the lyrics (“We took off on a rocket ride”). Decent medium-tempo metal song.

“A House Divided” should have been released on all versions of the album. It is truly a shame that it is only available on the deluxe edition. It has an interesting trumpet intro by Bob Findley (who played on Megadeth’s “Silent Scorn”), and like “Dance in the Rain,” reminds me why I’m a fan of this band. Once again, Mustaine sings about injustice (“This is a sad day for violence / When speech results in silence”) as gang vocals creepily chant “We all know something’s wrong” in the background. It gave me goosebumps. It is a suiting finale to the new material.

The final track is a live version of “Countdown to Extinction,” recorded in Pomona, Calif. in December of last year. It is a preview of Megadeth’s next CD/DVD release, Countdown to Extinction Live, which should come out this fall.

Super Collider is just one of those albums that is so different, it has to grow on you. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve seen it called “Risk II”. But the truth is, there are so many different elements on SC, you can’t compare it to one single item in the Megadeth catalogue. It stands alone.

Final verdict: 7/10

Track Listing:
1. Kingmaker
2 .Super Collider
3. Burn!
4. Built For War
5. Off The Edge
6. Dance In The Rain
7. Beginning Of Sorrow
8. The Blackest Crow
9. Forget To Remember
10. Don’t Turn Your Back…
11. Cold Sweat (Thin Lizzy cover)
12. All I Want (Bonus Track)
13. A House Divided (Bonus Track)
14. Countdown To Extinction (Live In Pomona, CA) (Bonus Track)

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Album Review: Stone Sour – ‘House of Gold and Bones Part 2’ (2013)

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Release Date: April 9, 2013

Label: Roadrunner Records

Earlier today, Stone Sour streamed the sequel to their chart-topping album “House of Gold and Bones Part 1” (2012). Though “House of Gold and Bones Part 2” won’t officially be released in the States until next week, I am reviewing it now.

It’s been a long time since I’ve listened to an album that has genuinely kept me entertained the whole way through. When I heard HOGAB Pt. 2, I didn’t find myself looking back at the track list every so often, wondering, “Just how many songs are there left?” It is a fantastic album and fitting sequel to Part 1 with its schizophrenic time and style changes, sometimes during single songs.

HOGAB is singer Corey Taylor’s brainchild–two concept albums and a 4-part comic book miniseries about temptation and vice. The music itself is a representation of the conflicts the protagonist, Human, endures. It brings the lyrics to life, and the theme continues through Part 2.

Part 2 starts off with a melancholy piano ballad, “Red City”. It is quite the departure from “Last of the Real,” the final track of Part 1. But during the second track, “Black John,” thrashing drums kick in, signalling the alternative metal tour de force that is the rest of the album. “Sadist” is a slower, groove metal-esque number with chromatic riffs akin to Ozzy’s “Diary of a Madman”.”Peckinpah” is another grooving number, but the next song, “Stalemate,” is one of the highlights of HOGAB 2.

“Stalemate” starts off as an acoustic ballad with piano flourishes, and one assumes that it will be similar to the first track. But suddenly the electric guitars and drums kick in and you wonder what the hell just hit you. You just got your ass kicked and now your neck is broken from headbanging so much. Then there’s a key change to throw you another curveball.

In addition to hard rocking tracks like “’82,” “Do Me A Favor” and “House of Gold and Bones,” HOGAB 2 has its share of powerful ballads. While still heavy, “The Uncanny Valley” and “The Configuration” would do well in mainstream or crossover charts. “The Configuration” reminds me why 80s metal power ballads so great (Skid Row bassist Rachel Bolan, who contributed to this album, should know). It would be wise for Stone Sour to release it as a single.

This album showcases why Stone Sour is so great. The lyrics are very relatable, telling tales of adversity, self-doubt and self-empowerment. They actively troll their listeners with their musical epicness and make you go, “what the hell just happened?” You’re not sure what hit you, but it is well worth the bruise you’re left with.

Track Listing:

  1. Red City
  2. Black John
  3. Sadist
  4. Peckinpah
  5. Stalemate
  6. Gravesend
  7. ’82
  8. The Uncanny Valley
  9. Blue Smoke
  10. Do Me A Favor
  11. The Configuration
  12. House of Gold and Bones

Lineup:

Corey Taylor – vocals

James Root – guitar

Josh Rand – guitar

Roy Moyarga – drums

Rachel Bolan – bass

CORRECTION (4/6/13): Human is the protagonist of the story, not Allen.