Megadeth are in the middle of another classic period. While some of their peers have been struggling for a while to make relevant noises in the studio, Dave Mustaine and co. have been recording vital albums since 2009’s Endgame. And their latest is destined to be regarded as one of Megadeth’s most defining releases.
The band have thrown off any preconceptions, ditched all the clichés and allowed their instincts to take over. As a result, this is an album that flows with neatly observed touches, and overflows with some of the finest compositions and musicianship ever heard on a Megadeth album.
This bears little resemblance to the thrash era of the mid-80s, from which the band first emerged. In fact, Super Collider has a lot more in common with Thunder And Lightning-era Thin Lizzy, early Van Halen and classic Mountain. The twin-guitar moves from Mustaine and Chris Broderick are stunning, giving every song a real lift, and providing light and shade against which Mustaine’s desperately growling vocal menace can bring the intelligent yet confrontational lyricism to life.
It all starts superbly with Kingmaker, a thunderous message about the dangers of being addicted to prescription drugs. From then on, at no point does the high standard drop away. Forget To Remember and Dance In The Rain both feature a guest appearance from Disturbed vocalist David Draiman, who gives them an added dark dimension. The former even dares to tackle the tragedy of Alzheimer’s disease – certainly not one of the usual subjects for a rock’n’roll song!
The Blackest Crow has a distinct southern influence (it was rumoured that Willie Nelson was to feature on this song, but that never materialised) and shows the way Megadeth have broadened their horizons. The title track has a mean-streak riff, and Off The Edge has a coruscating dynamic that wouldn’t have been out of place on Dio’s Holy Diver album. Only on Don’t Turn Your Back do the band allow some of their extreme metal roots to rise to the surface. Here the pace is quickened, before a tremendous cover of Thin Lizzy’s Cold Sweat brings it all to a suitably climactic conclusion.
While it may appear sacrilege to die-hard Megadeth fans, Super Collider could easily become as vaunted and venerated as Peace Sells… But Who’s Buying? or Rust In Peace. It’s the culmination of four years during which Megadeth have continuously raised their game.