Released: 2011, Roadrunner Records
Megadeth’s new album “Thirteen” is the band’s thirteenth studio album and also contains 13 songs. Nice touch, and with the return of bassist Dave Ellefson to the fold this one has a decided retro feel right out of the box. The blast from the past is actually real in this case, as many of these tracks were written years ago for various projects and albums, some released as bonus tracks but others were never actually recorded commercially.
Megadeth’s ferocity has been shelved for quite some time now, embracing a more hard rock sound than metal for most of the new millennia. This lack of ferocity is what makes the first single, “Sudden Death” such a welcome surprise, with a ripping opening solo that recalls the intro solo to “Looking Down The Cross.” The opening track is also where you get a first taste of new co-producer Johnny K’s preference to mix Mustaine’s vocals too high in the mix. Mustaine’s sneering, I- don’t-give-a-shit vocals have always been a part of the band’s appeal, but his limitations are front and center on this album as his vocals have been Pro-Tooled to hell. Johnny K (who produced Disturbed) has done a decent job otherwise, producing a clear but not outstanding sounding album.
Lyrically, Mustaine continues to bash the political system and society at large on “New World Order” and “We The People”, but offers up some darker material on “Deadly Nightshade” and “Sudden Death.” There are some fine and catchy songs on here, such as the addictive riff to “Black Swan” and the throwback track to COUNTDOWN TO EXTINCTION “We The People.” There are lots of dexterous and shred worthy solos, perhaps some of the best the band has produced in quite some time. There are also the recycled riffs and the desire for thrashable accessibility as I like to call it. This thrash/hard rock hybrid inevitably leads to attempts at milquetoast melodic passages and catchy choruses that have been part of Megadeth’s identity crisis that first appeared on COUNTDOWN and is most evident on the song “Millennium Of The Blind”.
Objectively, this is a solid album that reunites the core of the band and offers all of Megadeth’s finest qualities along with their less stellar ones. At this stage, Megadeth is just too accomplished to put out a crappy album and too old to be ground breaking or innovative. I am guessing this one will be briefly revered, culled for a few tracks to add to Megadeth playlists, and eventually forgotten by most fans save the diehard. Despite this, Megadeth has once again delivered a worthy and respectable album that any fan of the band should enjoy.