Megadeth - TH1RT3EN
You have to applaud Dave Mustaine's ability to raise Megadeth from the dead and bring it back to a highly revered and respected institution. The last few albums have been enjoyable slabs of pure thrash, and they can still kick a large amount of arse in the live arena – anyone who saw the Big Four at Sonisphere this year can attest to the band's endurance alongside their peers. And so we come to TH1RT3EN, which also sees the return of original bassist Dave Ellefson after a decade out in the cold; building upon Endgame and the rediscovering of past glories, this is a little slice of nirvana for Megadeth fans the world over.
Opening with 'Sudden Death', which debuted in the Guitar Hero series of games last year, TH1RT3EN roars off to a flyer, the frenetic fret work guaranteed to get those air guitars out within 30 seconds. The menace and hatred demonstrated immediately calms any nerves that Dave might be beginning to mellow in his religion-drenched middle age, there is still some venom left in the old war dog yet. Lead single 'Public Enemy No. 1', about the legendary American gangster Al Capone, is Megadeth back to their very best; echoing the Rust In Peace and Countdown To Extinction eras, it is pleasing to hear a band so revived.
A lot of the tracks that have made it on to TH1RT3EN have their roots scattered throughout Megadeth's history, giving the album a much more varied feel in comparison to most of their back catalogue. Songs date back as far as the early nineties, as the likes of 'New World Order' and the excellent doom-laden 'Millennium Of The Blind' are finally polished off and beaten into a worthy form.
What is also striking is just how many catchy and tuneful tracks crop up throughout the album, from the cynical 'Whose Life (Is It Anyways)', through the blitz of 'Guns, Drugs & Money', and right up to the brilliant 'Deadly Nightshade' with its wicked sense of humour and razor-sharp guitars. But the zenith is surely 'Black Swan', originally a leftover from United Abominations and now crafted into a perfect slab of Megadeth magic as it combines a truly memorably chorus with crushing heaviness and fretboard fireworks.
Equally, there are some monumentally heavy moments, with 'Never Dead' being the pick as it takes a sledgehammer to the head; the title track too, as it crawls along with a more subtle sense of dread and foreboding despite the superficially more upbeat lyrics scrawled over the top. Unfortunately it's not quite all good, as the likes of 'Fast Lane' and 'Wrecker' slip the wrong side of cheesy; unintentionally comical lyrics mixed with riffs that should have been left in the 80s is not a good combination. But these should not distract from the fact the Megadeth have rather come up trumps with TH1RT3EN, and unleashed a record befitting their legendary status.