Opening Th1rt3en is Sudden Death, part of a trilogy of Megadeth songs for level ten of Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock. Singer/Guitarist Dave Mustaine has always challenged himself on the guitar and now he’s challenging rising guitar heroes with some of the most complex playing of his career. Never Dead is for the video game of the same name. The song opens with ominous guitar chugs and a slow militant beat before Shawn Drover is let loose, kicking his bass drum double time and returning founding member David Ellefson pounds away on his bass. This is classic Megadeth at full throttle.
Mustaine has always held up a mirror to his own life and does so again on Whose Life (Is it Anyway?) which has a punk rock looseness to the rhythm as Mustaine growls catchy lyrics about those who criticize him and others while standing in the shadows. The guitar leads are massive, the bass guttural and dangerous. For the closing song 13, Mustaine gets a little soulful with the lyrics:
“At thirteen I started down this path
Fueled with anger, music was my wrath
Years of clawing at scars that never healed
Drowning my mind, the thoughts are too real.”
There’s a tasty acoustic guitar solo, a dark breakdown, a soaring solo that echoes the song’s chord progression, and an overall epic and dramatic feel to the arrangement.
There are three songs about bad women on Th1rt3en and regardless of how literate the lyrics are on two of them, the song that stands out is Wrecker, with its huge groove, fists in the air chorus and overall sense of fun. Deadly Nightshade has some incredible guitar lines and the band is in high form for the middle and second half of the song, Mustaine and Broderick performing melodic, thematic and shredding solos while Ellefson and Drover are as insistent as a freight train.
Perhaps the return of David Ellefson to the fold is the reason Megadeth sound more like their 90’s selves than they have in years. Yet the album doesn’t take off like Endgame did, the songs are solid enough but only Mustaine and Broderick’s solos truly soar. A good Megadeth album is still so much better than thousands of other bands out there, but here’s to hoping for their next album they write some songs that match the soulfulness of 13 or the manic energy of Never Dead and Whose Life (Is it Anyway?).
(Review by Bret Miller)