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Roadrunner (2009)
Rating: 8/10

Die-hard ’Deth fans have been craving the days of old, a time when Dave Mustaine and whatever merry band of metal merchants he’d assembled thrashed hard and thrashed technical. Some are of the opinion that slowly but surely Megadeth have been finding the feet which made them such a metal titan in the first place.

For me, the last couple of albums – The System Has Failed (2004) and United Abominations (2007) – have been rewarding. Mustaine thankfully hasn’t trodden the same tepid waters which swallowed Metallica many moons ago; the sneering one may be older and less volatile, but his music still shines.

This time round, Dave Mustaine enlists the services of guitarist Chris Broderick, who’s previously worked with Jag Panzer and Nevermore, while bassist James LoMenzo and drummer Shawn Drover remain in the line-up. As expected the production on Endgame is crisp, with Mustaine once again using studio wiz’ Andy Sneap.

Endgame is an 11-track affair that marches into view with opening instrumental ‘Dialectic Chaos’, a short but technical affair featuring staggering solos and complex structures which melts into the rampant ‘This Day We Fight!’, with Mustaine sneering: “For this I was chosen, because I fear nothing”. It’s a raging number of classic metal themes, and although lacking the cutting edge of those early-90s classics it’s very much a melodic thrash workout featuring some truly juddering bass lines courtesy of LoMenzo, and with those solos flailing and wailing it’s Megadeth at their most confident.

In fact, as an album opener, ‘This Day We Fight!’ can’t be bettered, and the cold steel battering ram continues with apace as ‘44 Minutes’ stirs from its slumber, riffs chugging and that bass rumbling the speakers. It’s another killer Megadeth tune featuring an infectious chorus and a clutch of flesh-ripping solos from Mustaine and Broderick. The fact that Broderick replaced guitar wiz’ Joey Taffola in Jag Panzer speaks a lot for the man’s talent, and Megadeth is the perfect vehicle to showcase such flair.

Elsewhere, we’re treated to the gnarly groove of ‘Bite The Hand’, the brooding ‘Bodies’ and the bone-shattering title track, which is about as colossal as Megadeth get. ‘Endgame’ is a simmering rocker full of the usual Mustaine commentary, once again mocking his country of birth and addressing the effects of the New World Order.

‘Head Crusher’ raises the bar one again, opening with a drum barrage and Mustaine solo; another minor thrash classic for the great man’s legacy. While ‘How The Story Ends’ is a mid-paced chugger that bleeds into the album closer ‘The Right To Go Insane’, which has the subtlety of a Sherman tank. Again the guitars are turned up to ten as Mustaine snarls: “I’ve got nothing left to lose but my mind, I’ve got nothing left to choose, so I think I’ll go insane”.

‘The Right To Go Insane’ is a fitting end to another monstrous slab of melodic thrash metal, with Mustaine and company clearly showing no signs of resorting back to the timid mid-to-late 90s strains that left me cold. But Endgame is far from the climax. In fact, Megadeth have only just begun.

Neil Arnold

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