Monday, March 3, 2014
The Prager Experiment, Stage Two
--looked to his older, wiser manager. "Help us more, Bud!" he wailed. To which Mr. Prager replied: "I want you to do a record that will make the guys in Metallica say, 'Son of a bitch! Why didn't we think of that?'" In retrospect, this was monumentally poor advice. But Metallica themselves showed up with a few cups of salt, or rather Lars Ulrich did, telling an interviewer that while he had always admired Dave as one of the genre's most gifted musicians, "I just wish he'd take more risks."
Dave Mustaine was in a highly-suggestive state coming off of an underperforming artistic compromise, and being poked and prodded to throw the gauntlet down in front of his world-eating former band yet again was not what he needed to recover his confidence. But the words of his manager and his erstwhile friend ate into his brain and the result was Risk. A risk? No, the Risk. The one that Megadeth will never live down.
Dave Mustaine--vocals, guitar
Oh no. Nick Menza's gone. And none too ceremoniously, as you might suspect. During the Cryptic Writings tour, Menza began experiencing knee problems. Upon being diagnosed with a benign tumor, Megadeth brought on DeGrasso to man the kit while Menza recovered from surgery. In his autobiography, Dave portrays Nick as a pervert and a possible prevaricator, claiming that the drummer had "lost his enthusiasm" for his gig and wanted to take a break. So when the time came to hit the studio and begin the next record, the band decided to keep Jimmy DeGrasso on board. Poor guy. (DeGrasso, that is.)
I really can't put into words how poor this album is, how excruciating of an experience a straight-through listen is, except--I'm gonna kinda hafta.
"Insomnia"--Just scant seconds in, Megadeth are already taking a risk that I won't punch the eject button and shot put this bitch through a window.
But then! Things take a turn for the mighty fine. A nice solid-rockin' vibe, sizzling guitar, grueling vox. If they can just keep this up….
Surprise, they don't. Ladies and (more likely) gentlemen, welcome to techno-rock. "Insomnia" will kill your arousal quicker than imagining your mother naked.
"Prince of Darkness"--I am more violent than violence
More deadly than death
Would you shut yer friggin' yap? Ninety seconds of Mustaine attempting profundity via warbly pseudo-poetry, then an Alice in Chains song happens. A potpourri of blood and pubic hair would be more welcome in my home.
If you're seriously trying to compete with the biggest metal band in the world, why would you show up to the fight with a muzzled dog? Yes, the chorus is kinda cool, especially when it creaks. But that's it.
"Enter the Arena"--Intended as a preface for the next track, a warm-up of sorts. The first of five consecutive songs co-written by Bud Prager. Bell toll indicating imminent doom inserted here.
"Crush 'Em"--Mustaine loved hockey, and his adored Phoenix Coyotes clearly needed a fresher arena anthem for their contests at home, 'cause "Rock and Roll Pt. 2" is so fucking old they played it at the Isthmian Games. I will pen a cry to arms that will replace the hoary abomination. The most exciting live sport in the world deserves a song that is every bit its equal. I, David Hermes Mustaine, will satisfy the hunger, quench the thirst, provide the spark, and ensconce the untamed leporids where sunlight shall never reach them. Suck my dick, Lars!"
The first time I heard "Crush 'Em," I was befuddled at the overwhelming pointlessness limping towards me. Mustaine took the muzzle off his pup, finally, but turns out the poor thing is neutered! Not even "Seven Nation Army" could top it for the honor of Worst Lemming Magnet, Sports Category, and at least that song--for all the murderous intent it fills me with every time I hear that stupid fake-bass line--has proven an enduring presence at sports arenas worldwide. "Crush 'Em" had its mercifully brief time, and its true legacy is "the dumbest song Megadeth ever did."
"You'll never be more than second best!" And this is why, David. This is why.
"Breadline"--Typical rich dude clucking at how inequitable life is. How astounding, that there are so many people who have no home to call their own when I own two! A lot of people fear the homeless, and they should. I was very recently among their ranks, and with one unfortunate stroke I could be there again. Life on Earth is dog-munch-dog, and when a person reaches the point where dog food is a meal, the teeth are gonna get bared. Well-wishes from someone who has several hundred thousand ears at their disposal means nothing when the system is designed to hasten the spiritual and physical death of millions.
Eh, enough drear, my dears. "Breadline" is hardly worth my bitterness, brimming as it does with all the passion and appeal of a Bon Jovi cover band showing off their chops in rehearsal by tackling a song off of Load.
"The Doctor Is Calling"--Takes a single idea and gives it the low soft one. Megadeth are truly the thinking man's W.A.S.P. (sell out like a beast).
This is...adventurous. Yes. I'll go with that.
"I'll Be There"--You don't have to be, though. Is the thing. In fact, I insist.
A much-revered heavy metal band thanks the fans for their unwavering loyalty with…heavy pop?
"Wanderlust"--What's that you're saying? What about the chain?
Dear me…there's only so many shades of blue to dabble in.
"I got wanderlust." Then--"I got a lust for wandering." Oh Dave. Stop trying to run a marathon with a broken ankle. It's not heroic, and you're doing irreparable damage.
"Seven"--We got a real Norman No-Ass here. Megadeth may no longer qualify as thrash metal, or even metal at all, but they do manage to meet the minimum standards of rock 'n' roll, mainly because they are fucked.
"Time: the Beginning"--I suppose I should be resigned to it. Sad, maybe. Anxious? I probably should get my ass to the kitchen and hustle together one very emotional sandwich, but screw it, I ain't really that hungry.
Acoustic guitar makes Dave's delivery hushed. More interviewers should bring acoustic guitars when they meet up with him.
"So what are your thoughts on guns in America?"
*lightly strummed D chord*
"Time: the End"--Fucking finally, you sons of bitches.
By the power of Chronos, I hear a thrash riff! Oh, vestigial bliss! A hearkening back to that halcyon time when listening to a Megadeth album didn't make me want to strip nude, bite down onto my forearm and spit blood onto my vagina!
Risk has all the replay value of a condom. That its abject failure with both critics and fans did not send Megadeth into an extended hiatus or end them altogether is a minor miracle (or just testament to how stubborn their "General" is). It' s no fun listening to a once-mighty band disintegrate into meaninglessness. It's anti-fun. It's picketing outside of offices, armed with clever chants and cleverer signs, looking and sounding very very stern.
Mustaine hurled blame at not only Bud Prager but Marty Friedman as well, claiming the latter was growing weary of playing metal music and trying to cajole his mates into a poppier direction. It was the combined efforts of this duo that wore Dave out, so to hear him say it, but the fact is, dude tried to take a swim in some calmer, shallower waters, and he blacked out. He let his bitterness scramble his brain again.
But the genuine kicker? Rancid as Risk is, it's still only the second-worst album ever put out by a member of the Big 4. You know what number one is, right? Oh yeah, it's coming up next week. Megadeth can't even surpass Metallica when it comes to putting out complete utter shite. They will always be the bridesmaid, and the dress will always clash horribly with their hair.