Sound — 7
As users of Ultimate Guitar know better than anybody, it's not Megadeth that are making the headlines right now. What has been the band's shtick for many decades was just yesterday assimilated by Lou Reed and Metallica's album "Lulu", which is more mocking, more sneering and more obtuse than Dave Mustaine has ever dared be, but the air of respectability lingers perhaps a little stronger around the Megadeth camp. Back into the groove of making a record every two years and touring it with a lineup that most can agree on, all that's needed from them now is a good run of creative form.
Taking heed of the hankering for a bit of nostalgia post-Big Four, Mustaine has utilised his riff library to dip in and out of the sounds from various eras in Megadeth's history. Most prominent are the chorus-led thumpers of 1992's "Countdown To Extinction" and riffy flourishes of more modern efforts, but all bases are covered fast, slow, serious and tongue-in-cheek. It makes for a real crowd-pleaser, albeit one with a relatively low artistic ceiling.
There is a noticeable dip in volume between "Th1rt3en" and its predecessor "EndGame", which can be attributed to the dropping of soul-sucker and producer extraordinaire Andy Sneap in favour of Johnny K, a man best known for his work with nu metal bands and various other affronts to justice. He gets a potent mix though, and it's partly thanks to him that album highlight "Never Dead" has an urgency that's been practically unheard of since the band's magnum opus, "Rust In Peace".
One of the more specialist pleasures of a new Megadeth album is the provision of resources for guitar players, and there's plenty of learning material to be mined here. Be it a new riff or one of the many exercises in technical insanity from the virtuosic Chris Broderick, you'll find something good to play if that's your cup of tea. Don't expect kids to be looking up "Guns, Drugs & Money" before "Hangar 18" of course, but the album's shelf-life can be much extended by a glance at its inner workings.
Lyrics — 7
Now well into middle age, senility hasn't struck Dave Mustaine as cruelly as it has many of his peers when he's onto a winner his tongue is sharp, but his misfires are just as embarrassing as they were twenty five years ago. Particular offenders here are the rambling "Whose Life (Is It Anyways?)" and "Wrecker", a vapid, juvenile assessment of women. But his targeting of political and societal power is well suited to an audience of generation-spanning metalheads and there are no complaints to be had there.
Overall Impression — 7
It's actually worth considering how much Megadeth have really got left in their locker because, should convention be upheld as it is here, even the most experienced of bandleaders has a finite supply of riffs. Self-styled to the end, you could even see "Th1rt3en" as an appropriate point for the band to bow out, but as long as crowds are hungry then this outfit will keep going. For the first time in a few years, heads can be held high either way.