Sound — 7
Dave Mustaine started Megadeth with David Ellefson in 1983 after being ousted as a founding member and lead guitarist of Metallica. Since that time, Megadeth has averaged a release every two years. Many of their albums have been considered classics of the genre, and many of the songs are considered genre-defining. Through that time there have been many line-up changes, with Dave Mustaine remaining the only constant member and the main creative force behind the band leading to the band being nicknamed MegaDave. In recent years the band's fan-base has been erratic due to loss of interest in the genre and Dave's outspoken political views and statements about his faith as a born-again Christian. Despite a lawsuit filed by David Ellefson against Megadeth in 2004, he re-joined the band in 2010 and for the time being the band's line-up seems to be more stable than it has been in years. The current members of Megadeth are Dave Mustaine (lead vocals, guitar), David Ellefson (bass, backing vocals), Chris Broderick (guitar, backing vocals) and Shawn Drover (drums, percussion).
"Super Collider" is Megadeth's fourteenth studio album and the first to be released on Mustaine's new label, Tradecraft, after a falling out with Roadrunner Records. There are 11 tracks on the standard edition with 10 of the tracks being new material and the 11th track being a cover of the Thin Lizzy song "Cold Sweat." There is also a Best Buy exclusive addition with three additional tracks, but I am reviewing the standard edition. The title track, "Super Collider," was released as the first single on April 23rd, 2013. The second single was "Kingmaker," but while a YouTube video was released for the song it was not made available for purchase before the album release. The album overall has more of a mid-tempo vibe to it than most of their previous releases which has caused some hate from metal fans on social media. While "Super Collider" is not Megadeth's heaviest album, there are definitely strong elements of thrash and metal in the album.
The album opens with the track "Kingmaker," which is possibly the song most in line with what was expected of the new Megadeth release. "Kingmaker" is a higher tempo track with an interesting bass-line in the opening that seems to gallop along with some really interesting lead guitar work. The second song on the album is the title track "Super Collider" which, in my humble opinion, is the weakest track on the album. "Super Collider" is a mid-tempo rock song and it doesn't quite fit on a metal album. The fourth track, "Built for War," sounds more like a return to form for Megadeth with a strong riff and an interesting melodic passage with some chanting. The sixth track, "Dance in the Rain," is a song about the blue collar condition that reminds me a little bit of "Sweating Bullets." "Dance in the Rain" is followed by "Beginning of Sorrow" which starts out with a strong bass riff and goes on into a call and response type lyric between Dave and the response coming from David and Chris. The first solo sounds like one of Dave's solos to me more than Chris's but I'm not 100% on that. The eighth track is "The Blackest Crow" which was initially going to be sung by Willie Nelson and/or Miranda Lambert, but this fell through for reasons unknown and Dave handles the vocals. It starts out with some banjo and slide guitar but somehow has an almost Indian sitar feel to it. "The Blackest Crow" is absolutely the most stand-out unusual track on the album, but currently it is also my favorite. The album closes out with a cover of the Thin Lizzy track "Cold Sweat," which is a pretty close interpretation of the original, just changed enough to put Megadeth's stamp on it.
Lyrics — 8
You definitely know you're listening to a Megadeth track when Dave Mustaine's vocals come in. Over the years Dave's voice has changed to become slightly deeper with less high range. This is something that comes with aging and you have to remember that Dave Mustaine has been doing vocals in a metal band for 30 years. His current vocal ability isn't bad in fact, I'm envious of his vocal ability but it is less than what it was back in the day. David Draiman from Distrubed contributes some guest vocals on the album on the tracks "Dance in the Rain" and "Forget to Remember." It is also a good thing to hear David Ellefson backing up Dave Mustaine's vocals again. The actual lyrics from the album are pretty much standard fare for Megadeth, mostly focusing on social issues as Dave sees them. Here are some lyrics from "Dance in the Rain" to illustrate my point: "Sentenced to work/ a dead end 9 to 5/ trapped in a dingy corporate cubicle hell/ then go to work in the darkness on the midnight shift/ every chance you get selling gas at the corner shell/ three letter groups listening in on you/ under surveillance courtesy of big brother in your car/ drones monitor each and every move you make/ it doesn't matter who you know or who you think you are" then the chorus comes in saying "you better learn to dance in the rain instead of waiting for the sun." I like the 1984-ish tone of the song. If I had to rate the vocals alone, then I would rate this section a little lower, but I think the lyrics are interesting and I find myself singing along so I bumped up the score a tad.
Overall Impression — 7
Okay, bottom line is this a thrash metal album? Sometimes it is, but sometimes it is a hard rock album. Is it a bad album? No, but it isn't necessarily what you're expecting from a Megadeth release. Coming at this with my specific perspective, I think that there is a habit of fans (myself included) when a band has been around a while to measure everything they do against their previous work. When a band releases some true masterpiece albums, then we grade them on a stricter scale than we would otherwise on their subsequent releases. I'm going to attempt to not do that with this release while this isn't "Peace Sells," it isn't a bad album. My favorite songs from the album are "The Blackest Crow," "Dance in the Rain," "Built for War" and "Beginning of Sorrow." My least favorite song from the album is "Super Collider," which seems like it didn't quite live up to Dave Mustaine's idea. I'm grading this album based on the following thinking: "Killing Is My Business..." and "Peace Sells..." would each easily rate a solid 9 out of 10. By that line of thinking I rate Super Collider overall as a 7 out of 10.