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"Super Collider" is the 14th studio album by American thrash metal band, Megadeth. It was released in 2013 on the Tradecraft label and produced by Johnny K. The line-up for the album was Dave Mustaine (vocals/guitar), Chris Broderick (guitar), David Ellefson (bass) and Shawn Drover (drums).
This album was the follow-up to "Th1rt3en" which was released in 2011, and the writing process began in 2012. Megadeth was able to enjoy an unchanged line-up, and two songs, "Dance in the Rain" and "Forget to Remember" also featured Disturbed's David Draiman. Johnny K was once again at the helm after his excellent production for "Th1rt3en" and for the first time since the band's 1988 offering, "So Far, So Good... So What!", we get a cover song, in the form of Thin Lizzy's "Cold Sweat". Is it any good? Let's find out!
The album gets off to a flyer with a funky bass line bringing in "Kingmaker". The first thing of note is Mustaine's vocals, which sound harsher and somewhat deeper than on songs from previous albums. This could well be intended or it could be that he's getting a little older now, having celebrated his 51st birthday in September, 2012. It is a song about someone who is dependent on painkillers and features two solos from Chris Broderick, who seems to be the perfect Megadeth guitarist. Dave Mustaine commented while the record was being made that Chris was probably the best guitarist he's ever had in the band.
The title track is self-evident, and is a song about the search for the so-called 'God particle'. Some critics see the song as a step backwards and feel it is not thrashy enough, but Megadeth has never done things the easy way. Mustaine's vocals are back to their usual pitch here, but they seem to be drawn out a little too much. There is a neat little hook which brings in the chorus, and even if you don't like the song at first, it will surely grow on you. It is hard to label the track as a Megadeth classic, but the band has proved in the past with songs like "Trust", "I'll be There" and "A Tout le Monde" that a Megadeth song does not have to be out-and-out thrash to sound good.
The intro of the song begins with a killer riff which then turns into what can only be described as some Mustaine Mastery with a quick trademark solo, before the main body of the song is brought in. The chorus of which begins with Mustaine shouting "Burn baby burn" is not very enthusiastic, but it is the tight playing of the band which helps the track along. This is Shawn Drover's fourth album with Megadeth but you would think he's been on the drum stool since the beginning as he keeps that rhythm section ticking along to a precise beat with bassist, David Ellefson.
Build for War
This song is a speedy thrash number with riffs you'd expect Megadeth to throw at you. It has a strange almost male choir-like backing during the bridge, but that is its only downfall, if you can even call it that. Many would say that the song will not rank along with the likes of powerhouses "Hook in Mouth", "Devil's Island" or "Holy Wars... the Punishment Due" but it does have a solid backbone. It is one song you would expect the fans to really get into when it's played live because the image of the crowd singing along with the afore-mentioned backing choir will not be difficult to conjure up.
Off the Edge
This song begins with an intro which sounds like it could be off the band's 1990 masterpiece, "Rust in Peace", but once it gets going, it definitely sounds like progression , and progression in the right way. It has an interesting main riff that has some meatiness to it, and the chorus is a little eerie. The song seems to be about a conflict of interests inside the narrator's conscience. He does not know which way to turn, but a voice is speaking to him, saying "come with me". There are two solos on this song, firstly by Mustaine which is played melodically, and then by Broderick, who picks up the pace with his intricate playing. Many would say this is a by-the-numbers song, but a lot of fans will love it.
Dance in the Rain
This is the song off the album that, when looking back over time, will prove to be the jewel in the crown. Drover's drumming is a little different to the rest of the song during the verses, but his style somehow works. Mustaine has written some strong lyrics here, and some even stronger guitar parts. The track starts out pretty speedy, but towards the last minute or so it really picks up the pace with some intense riffing, which also brings Drover's drums into the spotlight with some great double bass work and timely fills.
The Beginning of Sorrow
This is one of Megadeth's slower songs, but it still packs a punch with some heavy riffing throughout. It's the solos which stand out, though, and what you get is homage to fellow 'Big 4' metallers Slayer on the first Mustaine solo which quickly leads into something which sounds like Anthrax on the second. There's nothing wrong with that - every band does it - but it takes talent to turn it into your own, and that is what Megadeth has done on this song. While the lyrics may not be consistent with what is deemed as thrash metal, they are hardly on a "Love Me Tender" scale, either.
The Blackest Crow
A Megadeth song with slide guitar which sounds like southern rock is what you get here, and it is a song about Alzheimer's disease, in particular, the struggle with depression of Mustaine's mother-in-law who was a sufferer. In a chance meeting, Mustaine asked Willie Nelson to guest on the song but their schedules conflicted and it never happened. The song begins with a bluegrass style which can be heard throughout, but is combined with thrash guitars also. This is not your typical Megadeth song, but it is one that has a special blend which is difficult to pull off in the day and age where everything has been done before, and a lot of metal sounds alike.
Forget to Remember
Here is another song that, when it starts, sounds like it could belong on the band's 1999 album, "Risk", which was a change in direction for Megadeth. It does change into a rocking number with some telling power chords and it is on this song where Mustaine's vocals are back to their usual pitch. It is another song about Alzheimer's disease but also, according to Mustaine himself, could also be about someone trying to forget a relationship. The chorus has a progression that can't fail to get the hardened fan interested, but you will struggle to pick out the backing vocals of David Draiman. That could have been intentional because he has such a distinctive voice, though.
Don't Turn Your Back...
This song was inspired by a true story in Dave Mustaine's life. As a former drug addict, he had a friend that ran a halfway house and told Mustaine to look through a box of stuff. The box was the possessions of a guy who had overdosed, and was described as the sort of person that would steal your dope and help you look for it. Mustaine said, "Everyone has had a friend like that; the type of guy in life that will steal your drugs, or your money. The guy that will sleep with your girlfriend and then whisper in your ear, 'I think he's cheating on you."" The song starts out with some nice blues-sounding guitar playing by Broderick, but the song forgets about being nice around the 40-second mark and turns into an absolute monster. This is one of the thrashiest and fastest songs on the album and Mustaine's solo shred is nothing short of excellent.
Here is a Thin Lizzy cover to end the album, first released by the Irish hard rock band in 1983. It is not the first time one of the 'Big 4' has covered a Thin Lizzy track - Metallica covered "Whiskey in the Jar" in 1998 on their "Garage Inc." album - but Megadeth chose a track which is not as mainstream, though it did reach the UK top 40 when Phil Lynott and Co., released it as a single. There is something about thrash metal bands covering hard rock acts that just sounds right, and the soloing by both Mustaine and Broderick nails it on the head.
Some albums take a few listens to get to that stage, and "Super Collider" is definitely one of those. There are some songs on the album that some won't like, but the majority of people will give it time to grow on them and when it does, those people will start to love what Dave Mustaine, Chris Broderick, David Ellefson and Shawn Drover have created. It was never going to top the likes of "Rust in Peace", but not many thrash metal albums can. All in all, this is a strong album which cannot really be compared to earlier Megadeth records, because the band has grown and evolved.
2. Super Collider
4. Built for War
5. Off the Edge
6. Dance in the Rain
7. The Beginning of Sorrow
8. The Blackest Crow
9. Forget to Remember
10. Don't Turn Your Back...
11. Cold Sweat
My rating: 8/10
Tracklist: 1. Kingmaker / 2. Super Collider / 3. Burn! / 4. Built For War / 5. Off The Edge / 6. Dance In The Rain / 7. Beginning Of Sorrow / 8. The Blackest Crow / 9. Forget To Remember / 10. Don't Turn Your Back... / 11. Cold Sweat