Sound — 9
Over the last few years the Big Four of thrash have treated us to new music. Anthrax's "We've Come For You All" and Metallica's "Death Magnetic were both heralded as returns to form for the respective bands, while Slayer's "Christ Illusion" was considered a solid addition to the infamous thrash gods' library. Megadeth fell into a deep hole with the sub-par release "Risk" and has slowly crawled their way to the top since. "The World Needs a Hero" was a step in the right direction towards the band's famed metal sound. "The System Has Failed" took this further, scoring a couple classics in songs such as "Kick the Chair" and "Kill the King." United Abominations appeared to be Megadeth's so-called "return," but the new release, "Endgame" redefines the term "return to form" as we know it. Can the generic metal sound on Anthrax's most recent release stand up to "Endgame?" Not even close. The new album from Mustaine's gang perfects the sound that they had worked so hard to build since the horrendous sales of "Risk." Mustaine and new guitarist Chris Broderick show off their unrivaled chops with immaculately clean playing and brilliant harmonies. Guitar solos are all over, from the minute-long shredders in "This Day We Fight!" and "1,320" to the soothing leads of "The Hardest Part of Letting Go... Sealed With a Kiss." Shawn Drover continues to prove himself as one of metal's most accomplished drummers, and James LoMenzo provides solid bass work to round out 'Deth's rhythm section. The sound on most songs is layered brilliantly, with several different tracks blending together brilliantly. Some minor synth work is present, but not abused by any means. The Megadeth metal sound of old is back with a vengeance.
Lyrics — 8
It's been no secret that since rediscovering his faith Mustaine's lyrics have been politically driven, to the point that it's become a bit overdone. Just looking at the titles of the two albums before "Endgame" ("The System Has Failed" and "United Abominations") will give you a bit of a hint as to how much Mustaine's views have been a part of Megadeth's music in recent memory. However, "Endgame" also has the classic Megadeth killing song a la "Black Friday" in "Head Crusher," the album's first single; and another racing-themed song in "1,320." The lyrical writing is no less than you'd expect from Dave, top-notch. The words are serious when they need to be and fun and a bit cheesy when they want to be. It's hard to believe that the lyrics to "1,320" and "The Right to Go Insane came from the same person, but they do and it shows just how versatile Mustaine has become in his nearly 30 years in music. The vocals themselves are a big step up from "United Abominations," on which Dave sounded unsure of his ability and the snarls fell into gritty speaking. Mustaine shines across the whole album, and shows that he can still pull of a great thrash vocal. The only slight complaint on the singing is that some gang vocals could have helped on an anthem such as "This Day We Fight," where although Dave does a good job the refrain could use a bit more force. Nonetheless, the lyrical and vocal efforts should be commended.
Overall Impression — 9
Endgame is a huge success. From start to finish it's a heavy metal masterpiece, with arpeggiated guitar solos abound. Pounding drums and bass thumping hold together the wild guitar and vocals, recreating the controlled chaos that Megadeth was so famous for in the 80s. Technical brilliance shines through on tracks like "The Right to Insane," which features 5 fantastic riffs and some impressive soloing at the end. The track also features one of my favorite lyrics from the album: "I've got nothing left to lose but my sanity, and the right to go insane." Chris Broderick makes his presence known with wicked solos all over the album, and looks to be a rock in Megadeth's lineup. From the epic title track to the thrashing "1,320," Megadeth has achieved their true return to form, and hopefully there's more from where it came from.