REVIEW: Megadeth – Endgame

The first thing you hear bursting out of the gates on the new Megadeth album, Endgame (Roadrunner) is a thunderous, crunching riff leading into one huge back-and-forth solo-fest from Dave Mustaine and new guitarist Chris Broderick on the track ‘Dialectic Chaos.’ The tones are huge, the drumming relentless, and my freaking god Broderick is fast. Dave has said in the past that when his sparring partner was Marty Friedman, the contrast was that Marty played with a lot of love while Dave played with a lot of hate. Now, while I liked Glen Drover’s playing on United Abominations and live, his playing just didn’t have the passion and fire of Marty’s. It had a similar love of the guitar, but not the kind of love-you-so-fucking-much-I-want-to-have-you-right-here-right-now, dirty love that Marty had for his axe. Well, that fire is there in Broderick’s playing. It’s fast, precise and melodic, but intense, energetic, powerful and sometimes downright obscene, in the best possible way. In Broderick Mustaine has a co-guitarist who packs as much snarl and power into his playing as Dave does.

Yet for all its precision riffage and lead guitar mayhem, ‘Dialectic Chaos’ is still only the intro to the album proper, segueing into ‘This Day We Fight.’ With lyrics inspired by Lord of the Rings and riffs inspired by fighting for your frigging life as a horde of hellbeasts bare down on you, this track is at once vintage and future Megadeth. You’ll hear remnants of the same hyperaggression of ‘Rust In Peace (Polaris), ‘Take No Prisoners’ and ‘Poison Was The Cure’ from Rust In Peace, but fed through the more modern approach of tracks like ‘Kick The Chair’ from The System Has Failed and ‘Sleepwalker from’ United Abominations. With lyrics inspired by Lord of the Rings and some of the most pissed-off playing and vocal delivery of his career, Mustaine’s out for blood.

‘44 Minutes’ might remind some listeners of the balance of melody and aggression displayed on Countdown To Extinction tracks like ‘Symphony Of Destruction’ and ‘Architecture of Aggression’ but with the added heaviness that seems to come from just being in the mere presence of such an intense track of ‘This Day We Fight.’ It’s like some of the power and brutality of ‘This Day We Fight’ has actually leeched out of the track and into the rest of the album. After garbled police dispatch messages introduce the track, a growling James Lomenzo bass line is punctuated by stop-start guitar rhythms and a relatively restrained vocal line from a more narrative-driven Mustaine than the ‘in-the-moment,’ pissed off Dave we hear on ‘This Day We Fight.’ I’ve been listening to the album for about half a week now and this is my favourite track by far, and one of my favourite all-time Megadeth songs. By the way, the last 8 bars of ‘44 Minutes’ will probably kill about 94% of the guitar players you know, and seriously wound the pride of the remaining 6%. So say your goodbyes.

Now ‘1,320.’ Megadeth hasn’t done a song quite like this since ‘High Speed Dirt’ on Countdown To Extinction. But while Countdown was a meticulously crafted, evil cyborg of an album, there’s a pissed-offedness to Endgame which propels this track forward like the nitro-burnin’ funny cars it honours. Hold on for another wild back-and-forth Mustaine/Broderick guitar solo tag team, interspersed with cool harmonies. This one’s going to kill live.

Interestingly, ‘The Hand That Feeds’ also reminds me a little of ‘High Speed Dirt’ – both have chugging riffs that alternate between palm-muted pedal tones and higher chord stabs, as well as half-time sections. That’s not to say it’s a copy or rehash of ‘High Speed Dirt’ – it’s Mustaine’s sound so he has every friggin’ right to use it. By the way, this track contains one of my favourite Mustaine vocal deliveries ever, on the line ‘The roaches lick the cupboards clean of TV dinners …and beer.” There’s also a very cool end section which has an almost metallic shuffle feel. This is quite a proggy track with lots of riffage to dig your teeth into.

Next we have ‘Bodies.’ This one seems to bolt a bit of a United Abominations feel onto the songwriting of Youthanasia or Cryptic Writings, but Dave’s rhythm tone is bitier and more aggressive than anything on those albums. It’s more akin to his Rust In Peace era tone but twice as distorted and more compressed. The middle section includes what almost sounds like a nod to ‘While My Guitar Gently Weeps,’ before going all orchestral and proggy. If you heard just this section without knowing the artist you’d probably be surprised to find out it’s Megadeth, until an absolute prototypical Mega riff bridges the section to an intense thrashout.

I almost feel bad comparing tracks on Endgame to stuff from Megadeth’s extensive back catalog, so it’s at this point in the review that I’ve gotta step in and emphasise that this really sounds like Endgame, not a collection of rehashes of past tracks. The comparisons are just provided to give you a rough idea of the general vibe of the tracks. Got that? Ok good, cos the title track ‘Endgame’ kinda reads like a sequel to ‘Youthanasia’ in feel and theme. It’s almost like Mustaine is revisiting the bleak warning of ‘Youthanasia’ and taking it to its ultimate dystopian conclusion. Once again the arrangements are quite proggy. About ¾ of the way in, we revisit several of the musical feels established on Killing Is My Business …And Business Is Good, except updated for 2009. It’s an intense ride, and despite the gritted teeth of Mustaine’s vocal delivery you can kinda imagine him grinning at how much fun it must be to play a track like this.

Hey, how did you feel about Risk? Cos that might determine how you feel about ‘The Hardest Part Of Letting Go …Sealed With A Kiss’ Here we find the more melodic, orchestrational Dave, with a heartfelt and nuanced vocal delivery. The opening section contains delicate acoustic guitars including a little classical guitar mixed down low and some electric harmonies, before everything brutals back up again. Check out the riff at 1:52 to hear Megadeth showing Dream Theater how to really pull off the prog metal thing. This could very well be considered a centrepiece track, and it’ll be very interesting to see if it makes it into the live set.

‘Head Crusher.’ I’m sure everyone’s heard this by now – another pass at the ‘Sleepwalker’ vibe, and an odd choice for first single. To be honest I’d much rather hear ‘44 Minutes’ as the first single – it’s melodic yet heavy and instantly memorable, whereas ‘Head Crusher’ took me a few listens to get my ears around. It’s unrelenting and furious, with monstrous shredding throughout and particularly in the solo, but while I think it was a great choice of track to show metal fans that Megadeth were sitting on a pretty intense album, I can’t help thinking it would have been better left as a teaser, or at least used as a teaser then held off to be the second single. That said, you really can’t fault the song.

‘How The Story Ends.’ More crushingly thick Mustaine rhythm tone with punchy muted single notes mingling with chord stabs. Drummer Shawn Drover is a star on this one. Great memorable chorus, somewhat like something from the Cryptic Writings era but once again undeniably Endgame. Broderick brings out the acoustic for a little flamenco moment, showing that even though he’s an unstoppable shred machine, he can also play it sensitive. The following electric solo is an arpeggiated tour de force which could grow to be a show stopper in a similar way to Marty Friedman’s ‘Tornado Of Souls’ lead – it’s not as long but probably packs in four times as many notes!

‘Nothing Left To Lose’ opens with a creeping James Lomenzo bassline before a big Mustaine riff kicks in. It just fits as a closing track, in a similar way to how Megadeth could not possibly have ended Countdown To Extinction with any song other than ‘Ashes In Your Mouth.’ Chuggy guitars in the verses, big harmonies in the choruses, double-time solo… A kickass track that probably wouldn’t work so well earlier in the album but is right at home here. Classic Mustaine ‘wide stretch’ solo too.

Other thoughts: Shawn Drover’s sound on Endgame is more natural and open than on United Abominations. The word is that producer Andy Sneap decided to go with real drum sounds as opposed to samples this time round, and the added dynamic range recalls Vinnie Colaiuta’s work on The System Has Failed. Also, James Lomenzo has proven himself to be an indispensable part of Megadeth’s sound. He doesn’t roam as much as he did in Zakk Wylde’s Pride & Glory, but he provides a solid, powerful low end and a confident, powerful tone.

And Sneap. Sneap, Sneap, Sneap, Sneap, Sneap. Awesome producer but there’s always a fear that anything he touches will end up sounding like ‘an Andy Sneap record.’ That’s certainly not the case here. While I can’t help feeling that he may have influenced the level of distortion on Dave’s guitars just a little, he seems to have focused on getting the best Megadeth performances possible on Endgame without really stamping his sonic footprint on anything.

So that’s Endgame. Where do I rank it compared to its predecessors? Well I’ve been thinking about this a lot, and the more I listen to it, the more I like it. As of today I’d rank it equal second with Countdown To Extinction, Rust In Peace being number one. I know that probably sounds like a huge call – bands aren’t meant to make super-great albums this far into their career, right? We’d be happy with ‘Well, it doesn’t suck,’ yeah? – but it’s really that good. The fact that Mustaine is out there cranking out soon-to-be-classics like ‘44 Minutes,’ ‘This Day We Fight,’ ‘The Hardest Part Of Letting Go’ and ‘Bodies’ in 2009 when most of his contemporaries are… nah, y’know what? I’m not gonna go there. Endgame should be appreciated on its own merits, for what it is. And what it is, is one of Megadeth’s finest moments.

34 Replies to “REVIEW: Megadeth – Endgame”

  1. coudnt agree more! .. definatly beats anything else ive heard in a while .. looks like mustaine has finaly won the war over metallica

  2. Great review! I still haven't heard the album in it's entirety but I'll be up bright and early Tuesday to pick it up. I can't wait!

  3. I am no fan of Dave's voice and seriously believe that his singing has held back Megadeth single handidly.

    Checked out this album and yet again the most abismal, embarassing high pitched stupid lyrics are back full front.

    Megadeth will always be an band with great music and laughable singing.

  4. Take out all the technological polish and add in how truly angry, confused, and frustrated Dave was back in the SFSGSW days and this could have been the album released after RIP. It's a damn good album and better than I dared hope for. But, we'll never get another Set the World Afire or Take No Prisoners. He's all grown up now. If you were a fan club member, you'd have Endgame by now. :)

  5. I'm just listening to the album and i must say i'm impressed. I've really learned to appreciate Dave's work over the years. And i would consider myself a big fan, but i'm afraid i must disagree with the 2nd comment of this thread. Altho i love Dave and his music, he'll never 'win' the 'war' against Metallica. Yes, i know this is getting old, but imo it's true.

  6. Dave really has won the war. Metallica's last release "Death Magnetic" was completely inconsistent, going from Master of Puppets-style riffing to commercial rock rubbish that is reminicent of everything they did after the Black Album. "Endgame" is consistent, heavy and flows properly from track to track. Dave and co have done what Metallica couldn't and properly resurrected their style of old school Thrash. As much as I love old Metallica (seriously), new Metallica is a sad and tired joke and I hope this album is the last nail in their coffin. Hail the Kings: Megadeth.

  7. All I read about this record are positive review after positive review. It just isn't as good as everyone makes it out to be. If you're a mindless Megadeth fan, then you'll love it. Otherwise, you'll find it a pretty big mess. There are some good (even great) parts, but on the whole its not a very consistant or gratifying album.

  8. Of course the new Metallica is crap compared to the old stuff and compared to Dave's new shit. But i really don't think Dave ever reached the level Metallica was on in the old days. He doesn't have songs like One, Master of Puppets, fade to black, … The list keeps on going. And for that reason he will never win the war with Metallica. Altho Dave should be pleased that he's finally surpassed them in the present day. It surely took him long enough.

    And by the way, Metallica shouldn't resurrect their old school shit. They should keep making the music they want. Load was awesome imo, not metal, but awesome. This is the feeling i get with Endgame aswell, aswell as with many other bands. They're scared being called 'sell-outs' if they but stray from their original sound for a tiny bit. That's bullcrap. And by the way, Dave has made an equal amount of crap as Metallica.

    Nuff said

    Cheerz and enjoy all music out there.

  9. First thing i noticed was the awesome drum sounds, notably on "44 minutes" but present on the entire album.I was like "damn this is thrash metal!"(in a 2009 way). Megadeth has always found ways to be extremely heavy with their music , rather than going "bear growl vocals" to support dissapointing riffs like most bands. And again its the case with endgame. Dave's riffs are dominating , daunting , and oh so fast but the best thing is that those riffs are pleasant to hear and they grab you and toss you all over from start to finish.

    If there's something i don't like as much , it would be both the vocals and the lead guitars. As for the vocals i don't have a problem with Dave' voice , its more the fact that i think there's simply too many words cramped unequally into very tight spots. Makes for an unstructured and confusing experience but at the same times serves the chaotic riffing going on underneath. As for the lead guitar (solos) , i think the're very fast , technical , well played , but again they don't seem to go anywhere. Then again the lead guitar mayhem serves the song most of the time. Much like slayer leads played by two guys who know what the're doing.

    This is without a doubt the best music Megadeth has recorded in a long time.

    Also : Dave Mustaine for president!

  10. Man i have to say, i was a big fan of Metallica until Load, but from then on, i began to listen "carefully" another bands, one of them, Megadeth, then i discover a whole new world… Today (AND SEVERAL YEARS AGO) Megadeth is the best metal band on earth, by a mile, no doubt about it , and Endgame is pure art, awesome, outstanding, superb, the best metal album in years, the lyrics, the music, its fuckin amazing, man!!!! Dave you are the greatest, Mustaine is METAL. Period. The god of metal!! please come to Argentina soon!

  11. the "war" between metallica and megadeth is a boring and stupid thing………..
    who you love more mom or dad?…..

    but……endgame is the best record that i heard in years¡¡¡¡

  12. As my opinion that Megadeth did a slow downward spiral from rust in piece to risk. Megadeth has also done a slow ascension from the world needs a hero to endgame. Excellent masterpiece on par with rust in piece and countdown to extinction. There are other bands that make other music thank God we have Megadeth !!!!!!!!!!!

  13. First of ENDGAME is the metal record of the decade!

    I don't know about this battle between Mustaine and Metallica. I started listening to metal because of a Slipknot tape that I got while in school. My whole generation of metal fans were into Nu-metal and bit of Alt Metal like soundgarden.

    But, but, when we started playing music and learning about music it became clear, through a lot of resistance [Dave Mustaine resists our liking him] that Mustaine is Pure Genius. If you like classical music you will compare him Wagner and Stravinsky.

    I don't care about this Metallic battle. Mustaine should shut up about it. Anyway Metallica will always have to bear the name "D. Mustaine" on their body of work like an irremovable Birth Mark.

    ENDGAME is not going to be an easy album if you don't have the taste. It takes time, like reading a great book. But I don't think that it is going to do well. Mustaine's popular career is finished. Because if you are wanna be better than the rest then you ain't gonna see your recognition until you're dead and gone. So, the next generation is gonna Re-Discover Dave Mustaine.

    Great review by the way.

  14. I think so.It won't sell.But you gotta admit this is the best.Can it get better than this.Mustaine sure knows.

    As droogie I know that I don't have to say anything about metallica anymore after this album.It is kinda LOUD, eh?

    I liked that bit ""D. Mustaine" on their body of work like an irremovable Birth Mark." You mean the credits in the first three metallica albums.A cool way to look at those from here on.

  15. End Game album : $10.00
    CD player : $40.00
    6 pack of beer : $6.00

    Hearing the best metal band on this earth and an AWESOME album…………….PRICELESS!!!

  16. YEAH!! It's fucking cool!! The album ENDGAME.The best metal piece ever!! And that dude up there said it Metallica has got 'D. MUSTAINE on their body of work like an IRREMOVABLE BIRTH MARK".

  17. Fucking awesome album: First time I hear it I didnt get it. Its always the same with a new Megadeth CD. After the third time I start to learn the song, whats section is coming next the other, then I get the "feeling" of every song, the concept behind everything, and yeah, I can make the difference again between Dave Mustaine and everyone else in metal, is almost the difference between Mozart and Salieri

  18. Amazing experience. Play it again and again and again kinda experience. Suddenly life looks so different!!! How did this guy Mustaine last this long when everyone hated him for his genius!!! It is a wonder that this Album was made today. You know what I mean if you look at the state of music industry.

  19. I'll admit I've only listened to Head Crusher, but this looks like a probable buy for me. I don't like Mustaine's voice very much, but the guitars are top-notch.

  20. It is nice to see Metallica's comment mercenaries on the net (yeah, they actually pay a bunch of people to post 'em) going crazy ever since ENDGAME. It means something, mactalica is dead.

  21. Megadeth had always been the best. ENDGAME is the metal record of the decade \m/
    Metallica is dead, pal. We gotta stop talkin about them. Cuz, that's giving them some credibility. Like, you won't talk about Steven Segal and Jack Nicholson in the same sentence.

  22. Been a Megadeth fan since '88 and seen them more times than I can count. When I first heard UA, I thought that it was the best work since Countdown. Now I hear this album and it blows UA outta the water. What I like about it is that it has departed from the simple song structures often found after RIP…verse, chorus, verse, chorus, solo, chorus.

    The nonstandard song structures found throughout the first 4 albums are back. It makes the album MUCH more interesting to listen to because the music doesnt follow a prescribed pattern and often turns on a dime. You can tell that some serious effort was put into this record. Stellar work, absolutely stellar. I put it in their top 5, ahead of Countdown.


  23. Let's start with, I disagree. Though the new supporting cast is in no doubt very talented, here is food for thought:
    1) Dave is losing his voice… Anyone but me think he's starting to sound like Carl from Sling Blade? (I kept waiting for a verse about French fried taters)
    2) Though Chris is a phenomenal guitarist, he plays the same arpeggios over and over again. Rust in Peace, Countdown, and Youthanasia are littered with great solo's that have heart. Oh wait, that was Marty Friedman.
    3) This may sound like an oxymoron, but, "unnecessary shredding". Arguably, the above mentioned albums (Rust in Peace, etc.) had some of the greatest instrumental heart that created a new respect for the band. End Game had very little. Sure, there are a few very cool grooves here and there, but that's about it. Are the guys fast? Yes. So was Yngwie, but the critics ripped him to shreds for his repetition.
    4) Why copy Metallica's every change? They go "way old school", why do you have to? Release another Countdown type album, it was one of the best. Ok… Metallica wrote Fuel. Was anyone really looking for a response from Megadeth? I wasn't. (Fuel is a terrible song anyway.)

    Maybe Dave should stop looking for monkeys with cymbals (you know, the ones with batteries that just clap the cymbals together over and over) and find a group of writers/musicians to play with (gotta say it again: Marty, Nick, Ellefson…).

    In summation, The last few albums were complete trash, and though this wasn't "as" bad, it's still not where they have the potential to be.

  24. "In summation, The last few albums were complete trash, and though this wasn't "as" bad, it's still not where they have the potential to be."

  25. No, DUDE, what fruit truck did YOU fall off? The guy has right – everything after Youthanasia was just a complete trash. Countdown and Youthanasia (ok, add there Rust in peace :)) ARE Megadeth for me and I believe for greater part of Megadeth's audience. END GAME is really better than previous few awful albums but it simply have no potential cause Dave has no potential! Listen to his voice – like he is already dead…

  26. You could at least get the song titles right..

    Bite the Hand, not The Hand That Feeds
    Right to Go Insane, not Nothing Left To Lose

  27. Thanks for pointing this out. I just looked into it. The titles I listed were the working titles of the songs, which would have been how they were titled in the pre-release encrypted stream I had from Megadeth’s label about two months prior to the album being released (for when I interviewed Dave). At the time I wrote the review (a few weeks before publishing it), there were no hard copies yet, so the version I had access to listed the songs as Bite The Hand That Feeds and Nothing Left To Lose.

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