I’ve been a Megadeth fan for at least two decades now, so that makes me an old-timer. I first heard them at the beginning of their commercial period (99 Ways To Die from The Beavis & Butt-Head Experience and Youthanasia) and eventually I trawled their back catalogue and, bar some releases, I’ve followed all of the way. I’ve not seen them live (yet), unless you include a semi-live “Big 4 of Thrash” cinema screening.
Just to give a bit of history, if you don’t know much about Megadeth, you must’ve at least heard of Metallica who are seen as ambassadors of heavy metal. Megadeth’s lead singer and guitarist was briefly in Metallica as a lead player and fired not long before they recorded their debut album, for persistent aggressive behaviour (fuelled mostly by alcohol). Mustaine, though, being a very talented musician and writer (indeed there are Metallica songs which credit him still), quickly picked himself up and formed rivals Megadeth. Though they didn’t quite achieve the commercial acclaim of Metallica, in a broad historical sense, Megadeth have the better catalogue overall; it is much larger and with fewer misses. Some people don’t like Mustaine’s snarling singing style, but I think it suits their music.
Super Collider is sort of a return to the style I first caught them at. My ear is much more thirsty for stuff like 2009’s modern-classic Endgame, but this isn’t a bad album. Certainly more focussed than Thirteen anyway, and though it’s largely a moderate rock-metal album, it has a certain attitude, and no ballads.
Opener Kingmaker sounds a lot like Black Sabbath’s Children of the Grave – something I’m definitely not alone in noticing – with a similar vocal rhythm and wailing guitar stop. Elsewhere is one of the most surprisingly well-done crossovers I’ve ever heard: bluegrass heavy metal via The Blackest Crow. That song sounds quite creepy; an audio track for a Stephen King novel in a way. Forget To Remember has a very nice groove to it.
Lyrically, the album treads familiar but welcome ground in terms of politics and society. Mustaine’s very good at mining up pictures of paranoia and underdog-ism.
Megadeth, a bit like Metallica, seem to enjoy swerving between melodic and purely rhythmic, and in this case they’ve gone for more of the former this time. Not a bad move after dropping Endgame a few years back, but I hope their next album is the breakneck stuff fans often want to hear; this is just a good break from that and I’m sure these songs will sound good live. Super Collider itself is a good stadium song.
I don’t criticise Mustaine’s softer ventures as they come off much less cheesier than Metallica’s – and I love both bands.