Back during this year’s less than functional Mayhem Festival, fliers everywhere dropped the bomb that some fresh Megadeth material would be arriving mid-October, following up the success of 2009’s brutally thematic Endgame. Recorded in a matter of weeks, TH1RT3EN represents either youthful exuberance in a second wind for Dave Mustaine and returning bassist Dave Ellefson, or else something of a passion project by all involved. Unlike the majority of the Megadeth canon, this new album lacks a definitive central theme or political tableau. Unlike Metallica’s Lulu, Megadeth needed no help from an over-the-hill poet to sow wild oats. TH1RT3EN may, at first glance, appear to be a straight-to-DVD horror film, but do not let its cover fool you, Megadeth have found a nugget of disjointed awesome.
“Sudden Death” is a choppy introduction, saved moments later by Al Capone-inspired lead single “Public Enemy No. 1”. “Whose Life (Is It Anyways?)” marches into the fold on Misfits-esque guitars, entering familiar melodic territory before “We The People” cross-breeds “Sweating Bullets” and an unrelenting apocalypse with zero mercy. One common thread throughout the whole of TH1RT3EN is an embrace of mild punk, an infusion of old school ’80s metal (“Never Dead”, “Millennium Of The Blind”), and a metamorphosis of Mustaine’s typical malicious grin into a lycanthropic sneer (“Deadly Nightshade”), a series of attributes that one could see reinvigorating anybody, really.
Subtracting pretentious weight from a band that boasts several loose concept records in its catalog, TH1RT3EN might not don a full sense of humor, but it is 13 tracks of unadulterated hard rock in a classic package. Even as “Wrecker” steps in to try laughing manically at an old joke, it comes across less like good fun and more in the spirit of a serial killer.
The biggest flaw TH1RT3EN ever truly spits out is its lack of closure. The semi-titular finale does not seem to button anything, something tacked on purely to round everything up, and failing miserably at that. It shares a familiar tone at the bridge with co-existing rock act Metallica, and the minor nostalgia saves nothing. Thankfully, you could play this alongside Megadeth’s greatest hits and never miss a beat; seeing how TH1RT3EN came about to begin with, ’tis a fine achievement on its own merits.
Essential Tracks: “Whose Life (Is It Anyways?)”, “Public Enemy No. 1”, and “We The People”.