(Roadrunner Records)

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All the makings were here for a great album–confidence from the success of 2009’s Endgame, the triumphant return of original bassist Dave Ellefson, the well-received Rust In Peace 20th Anniversary tour and, of course, the Earth-shattering Big Four shows that had Megadeth mainman Dave Mustaine rekindling his friendship with his former Metallica bandmates. Put all these exciting elements together and what do you get? Apparently a mediocre album at best.

It starts off with plenty of guitar wankery with the solo-heavy “Sudden Death” (left over from Guitar Hero 5.) This album actually features several leftover songs that had only been available as demos before. As the album progresses, the songs become indistinguishable from each other and, for the first time ever, Dave Mustaine’s vocals actually started to grate on me. Is the Megadeth well finally dried up? Even Mustaine himself seems to question this on the album’s title track. I doubt that’s true, but if getting back in touch with the time period that made this band great didn’t produce an explosive album, then I can’t imagine anything else being able to give Megadeth the hunger to be amazing again.

Sometimes bands get to a point when putting out an album seems more like an obligation than a desire and TH1RT3EN certainly comes across that way for me. It’s almost like they are just trying to fulfill the contract with the record company (which isn’t uncommon) and putting out another live album right after the release of Rust In Peace: Live would bode very well with their fanbase. If this is the case, then hopefully that means TH1RT3EN is just another hiccup (Risk anyone?) in Megadeth’s otherwise illustrious career. Not that Dave Mustaine has anything to prove at this stage, but here’s hoping that 14 proves to be a much luckier number for the General and company.

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