Usually when I talk about Megadave, I typically talk about how they're Metallica Jr, how bewilderingly overrated Endgame is, how damn close to perfect Rust in Peace is, things of that sort. I have the same few sticking points that I seem to harp on whenever the band is brought up, it's a definite flaw that I certainly acknowledge. So what am I going to harp on today? Why, how clear it is that Dave Mustaine has lost his goddamn mind, of course.
The series of events leading up to this has been nothing short of a surreal, yet hysterically apt look into the mind of Dave Mustaine. We all know about how strong his political beliefs are and how staunchly libertarian he is, but that's not what makes him crazy. There are plenty of normally well adjusted people who believe in their political leanings so strongly that they're willing to say crazy shit to make a point. I mean, I don't doubt that Dave probably believes that Obama harnessed the power of the Weather Machine from Red Alert 2 to stage the recent tornadoes in Oklahoma, but that doesn't necessarily make him a bad guitarist or songwriter. No no no, shit like "Super Collider" makes him a bad songwriter. Yeah, the title track here was released about a month or so ago, and everybody who heard it promptly shit their pants in awe of how transcendentally crappy it was. A riffless mid-90s radio rock song with tired melodies and the worst vocal performance of Dave's entire career? Oh yeah, you bet your sweet little tushie this is going to be a comical trainwreck! I couldn't wait simply for the sheer schadenfreude. And before then, Dave announced that David Draiman, the hilariously wimpy frontman of Disturbed, was going to be featured and also help co-write a couple tracks. Fans lost their shit over this prospect. I'll admit Disturbed released two alright modern hard rock albums back with Believe and Ten Thousand Fists, but they're largely uninspiring and Draiman himself is a hilarious wussburger of a human being. The cover art was incredibly funny to me as well, it's one of the most well known stock photos of the Large Hadron Collider with just an added lens flare and a Megadeth logo slapped on to it. It's so preposterously lazy, they may as well have just released this instead:
|ON THE THIIIIGH ROAD!|
The day finally came where the album was made available to those of us who are leeches upon the underbelly of the music business, and well... it's bad, but it's not hilarious like I was hoping. I made the choice to avoid Thirteen (pHU(|< 7|-|@ $7UP1D L337 $P34|< p0PP'/(0(|<) based on how little I've liked practically anything the band has done since 1994, but from what I've gathered, Super Collider isn't all that different. It plays like a collection of b-sides from the mid 90s for the most part, with boring hard rock songs and boring kinda-vaguely-thrashy songs that they've been shilling since The System has Failed. It's more just really boring and uninteresting as opposed to outright offensively bad. I mean, there are some decent things here; I think "Kingmaker" is cool hearkening back to the sound of Countdown to Extinction (which I have now dubbed "speed rock"), and "Built for War" goes along those same lines. And no matter how bitter I am about Broderick potentially damning Nevermore to jump ship for the sinking S.S. Megadeth, there's no denying that he and Mustaine play off each other extremely well, and the leadwork has been pretty consistently great ever since he joined the fold. But apart from the leadwork, there isn't really any consistent positive from beginning to end on Super Collider. It pretty solidly flip flops between bad and boring with a few bright spots here and there.
To get the positives out of the way first, the aforementioned appearance of David Draiman is actually probably the best moment of the album. Say what you will about his voice or the insane Alex Jonesian lyrics he's forced to sing (the word "Al-CIA-da" is seriously used (ya rly)), but at least he sounds youthful and energetic. Mustaine's already technically awful singing voice has been long shot, and so he just kind of grumbles and snarls his way through the entire album like a tired old man trying to still sound as vicious as he did when he was a smack addicted young adult. The music does occasionally ramp up the aggression, but the vocals just have no chance of matching up to the energy and pace when it does pick up. And as I've previously mentioned, the speed rock numbers like "Kingmaker", pieces of "Don't Turn Your Back" and the end of "Dance in the Rain" are pretty good (especially that last song, the double bass passages and Draiman's exuberant performance are the clear highlight of the album for me), and the more mid paced stuff can sometimes groove along pretty well at times. The horridly titled "Burn!" is a pretty good example of such, even if the song is utterly forgettable if not for the dumb chorus.
But really, that's really all the album has going for it. Consistently impressive guitar solos over the top of mostly boring speed rock and intended radio singles with the occasional bright spot and vaguely thrashy moment. Nobody really expects Megadeth to churn out dozens of classic songs and riffs like they used to, but I don't think we fans are asking too much to ask for a little bit more effort on their part. The title track is still worth all the hate it received upon release, with it's utterly boring progression, pointless lyrics, and hideous vocals. We know that Megadeth can pull off this style relatively well, Youthanasia was full of decent songs like this, and I maintain that "Countdown to Extinction" is one of the better kinda-ballads in the band's repertoire, but "Super Collider" here is an exercise in half hearted ideas being shat forth with no passion from their creator. The song just kind of stumbles around on a really bland vocal melody and a complete dearth of anything resembling a real riff. Granted, it's clearly not meant to be a riff based song, but when the vocals are so hilariously botched and the melodies so uninteresting, something like an interesting riff in the bridge or something would have been most welcome.
And... good God this man's lyrics just need to be addressed. We all know they suck, we all know that his increasingly extreme political views have been seeping into his music for a while now, but they manage to be both funny and confusing on Super Collider. Take "Beginning of Sorrow" (which, to my dismay, is not actually a Suffocation cover) for example, which at first seems like a pretty straightforward take on the hot-button issue of abortion. But as the song goes on, the narrative just gets super fucking bizarre. A quick summation is this: "Teenage girl meets 'Mr. Right', Mr. Right turns out to be a jackwagon and rapes her, she is given the choice to abort, chooses not to, spits out baby in an alleyway, kid grows up in shitty foster homes, grows up twisted and bitter, becomes rapist himself, the end". So wait, what the fuck am I supposed to glean from that? Abortion should be legal because... otherwise there'd be more rapists in the world? Or... is it trying to make a statement about the fucked up state of foster care? Or... rape... is bad? I just don't get it. And then one song I keep mentioning as being one of the better ones, "Dance in the Rain", starts off with a goddamn "God Alone" dissonant banging while Dave rambles some spoken word crap about how da gubbermint has your car bugged and how they're just the worst thing ever and anarchy and antichrist and whatever I'm not The Sex Pistols I'm not very good at this get off my back! And then we have a personal favorite of mine, "Don't Turn Your Back". Favorite why? Because I'm almost sure this is yet another Chris Poland diss track. Motherfucker you wrote this already twenty five years ago. I'm not even kidding, the lyrics even directly reference getting his stuff stolen. Goddammit Dave, stop being such a booger.
Despite being boring on the whole, there are some strange musical choices here as well. The aforementioned awkward spoken word intro of "Dance in the Rain" is a big one, along with the banjo rendition of the opening of "My Last Words" (srsly) in "The Blackest Crow". Most impressively though, is "Forget to Remember". Honestly, this one is actually probably my favorite because it just so perfectly encapsulates the ever dwindling coherence of our glorious leader here. First off, it seems like a fairly typical farewell song. Could be a breakup, could be a death, whatever, it's a sad song, that's the point. That is until we reach the bridge, where (and I'm so happy that what I'm about to describe is a real thing) we get a spoken word section where a groveling Dave Mustaine begs to some woman to just please let him talk to her while she tells him to piss off because she has no idea who he is. The female voice in this exchange is played by his fifteen year old daughter. And then there's one last verse about how vaccines are evil shoehorned into the end because why the fuck not? What is going on in this man's head? I implore you, make sense of this insanity. Albums like City or Obscura sound like the musical manifestation of insanity to you? Well you simply just haven't spent enough time with Super Collider. Between the not-bad-but-kinda-half-hearted speed rock and the really terrible radio half-ballads, the layers peel away to reveal a man who hasn't been in full control of his brain ever since he learned how to burn the bottom half of a spoon. And it's odd because he still manages to surround himself with great musicians, and Broderick here is no exception, and he still manages to shine through when given the opportunity.
But clearly, this is very much a "Dave" project, and the band really has been ever since day one. This used to work out fine when other guitarists were able to inject their style into the still great songs Dave was writing. But now that he's an old, decrepit, lip-flapping lunatic, somebody needs to pull the reins and sit the man down, shake him violently and just yell in his face "NOBODY WANTS THREE RADIO ROCK SONGS ABOUT THE BARACKALYPSE. Goddammit man, we get it, you don't trust the government and personal freedom is being eradicated yak yak yak. Lots of people agree with you, but you are fucking awful at making this point eloquently. You're not a very good lyricist, you just kind of hamfist stupid scaremongering buzzwords into an awkward cadence and then run with it without editing your work at all. Nobody wants this shit. You know what they do want? Fast, violent, ripping music with lyrics that have fuck all to do with your increasingly pushy political views. Look back at 'This Day We Fight', that song was so goddamn good that most people seem to forget that the rest of Endgame sucks. Just... do that again. We know you can do it, you just did it flawlessly nary two albums ago. Why instead do you churn out crap like 'Off the Edge' and 'Forget to Remember'? Take your pills, man. Pick up the pace, let Shawn double bass and let Chris shred even more, maybe even give him an opportunity to start writing some riffs. The pieces are in place, but we have a raving madman at the helm who can't focus or make a good decision anymore. Get your head in the game, dammit."
That's all there really is to say about Super Collider. It's boring more than it is outright bad, but even with that being true, it still manages to make some bafflingly strange decisions. Is it worth checking out? Ehh, not really. "Kingmaker" is okay and the second half of "Dance in the Rain" is really good, but otherwise it's one of those things you shouldn't go out of your way for. Not the trainwreck we were all expecting (un)fortunately, but it's still boring and yet another pointless addition to the ever growing pile of pointless Megadeth albums since Youthanasia. The band's biggest problem is pretty solidly the band's own leader, and it's sad to say (especially since Rust in Peace is one of my all time favorites), but it's best to just ignore Megadeth at this point.
RATING - 30%
PS - The Thin Lizzy cover is pretty solid too, though they don't do anything special with it.