Tuesday, March 18, 2014
Try Smashing Together A Good Album Next Time, Eh?
The same line up on consecutive albums for the first time in sixteen years? Portentous.
"Kingmaker"--Moans and croaks from the struggle with addiction, but instead of tackling an intimate experience from the past head-on, Mustaine posits himself as the outsider, commenting on the abuse of Oxycontin, so-called "hillbilly heroin." It's less about the target demographic of highly-addictive prescription opioids and more to do with controlling one's life via drugs that have been given the A-OK to purchase OTC.
"Super Collider"--How could you make a song with this title and have it be just decent? Defy the odds, fellas! Spit up the nostrils of conventional wisdom! Write a song that sounds quite reminiscent of firework rockets exploding out the ass of a double-headed dragon's ass.
The "Super Collider" is another name for the Large Hadron Collider, which desperately wants me to call it the Hardon Collider. It is the world's most powerful particle collider, and in July 2012 investigators excitedly announced that LHC experimentation had led to the discovery of the so-called "God Particle." All of this is far more interesting than a mere Megadeth album, but, I have chosen to write about the music, and so I must advise you to seek the proper search utilities to quench your intellectual thirst.
Mustaine was tempted to call this album God Particle, but foresaw an unholy shit-storm and demurred. Dude, you are such a…I won't say it. Only that I have one, you are one.
"Burn!"--Blues-y metal fit to assemble a table to. A metal table? Is James Hetfield the table?
"Burn baby burn." Soulless ginger prick actually recites those words, which just reminds me how much more enjoyable, substantial and honest of a song "Disco Inferno" is compared to the likes of this gut-swiped hornswoggle.
"Built For War"--With all the galloping menace of a Killing Is My Business-era demo, Megadeth grab hold and squeeze. The macho men make a big deal of, and put massive stock into, one's mental and physical capacity for belligerent action/reaction. Whereas I am among those more impressed by how a person handles themselves during days of placidity.
"BFW" wants to be the Dupont Circle Metro Station escalator, but ends up closer to the one at Wheaton Station. Capital humor! Vague, panted threats of violence ain't barely up to a butter knife's job.
"Off the Edge"--"Lately it seems the world is going crazy." Oh fuck off, you walking Semmelweis reflex.
An excess of doomsaying makes for dull art from a dull artist.
"Dance In the Rain"--Big Brother cloaked and lurkin', slippin' the chips into the newborn babes, as per codes found on paper currency. When I read that Mustaine took lyrics from a fortune cookie, I was not surprised whatsoever. Amused, a lot. Disgusted, a bit. But utilizing what passes for dessert at the end of what is essentially Chinese-American fast food in your serious art is a move I'd expect from an old guy so far removed from his days of glory that the distance can be measured in light years. Because light years measure distance, not time. Lots of people don't realize that. I bet Dave Mustaine is one of those people. This guy fell for the widely-circulated photoshop of the "Welcome" sign in Kenya "proving" that Barack Obama was born there, so I wouldn't trust him to toast bread.
I admire Dave's resilience, if nothing else--drug addiction, radial neuropathy, stenosis, hemispherectomy.
"The Beginning of Sorrow"--A mid-tempo drudgery that rhymes "sorrow" with "tomorrow." Also, about tomorrow? There will be no. Just so you know.
The poppy parasite that latched onto the MegaBeast with Cryptic Writings should have been cleansed long ago--say, after Risk nearly destroyed the band's legacy. Clearly, manager Bud Prager was not the villain of the piece. Obviously, he was but an enthusiastic champion of Dave's desire to dumb down for domination.
"The Blackest Crow"--As far as "Cali-metal-band-tries-Southern-balladry" goes, which thankfully isn't far, "Blackest Crow" is better than Metallica's "Ronnie." But so is being catapulted headfirst into a tree.
"Forget To Remember"--A metallic Journey, but at least it's Escape-era Journey.
Dave drew upon his mother-in-law's struggles with Alzheimer's Disease, which is a heart-wrenching topic for sure, but this song never gets off the ground. This is a common malady of modern Megadeth.
"Don't Turn Your Back"--Betrayal and the disharmony of the soul, outlined in a multitude of cliched words and phrases, but ooh we got some Rust-ed chromatics to top off the verses, so I'll stick around. Risk-y chorus, though.
We're almost through Super Collider, and the drums have been playing hide-and-seek the entire time. Try kickball next time, fucker.
"Cold Sweat"--Metallica put their Thin Lizzy cover on a throwaway Garage record, but Megadeth puts their Thin Lizzy cover on a proper studio album! And it's actually good! Finally, a song that kicks ass on here, and all it took was a different band to write it. Totally macho but endearing to the end--that was Phil Lynott's charm. Mustaine lacks charm, but can sociopath it up with the best.
Soooo, Super Collider. Bleh. This album is prison breakfast.
With the release of this laborious shitcicle, Megadeth are officially the most ignominious major band in thrash metal history. Their decline has been more painful to witness than Sir Laurence Oliver in The Jazz Singer. Mustaine's the guy who writes an album about anamnesis. Mustaine's the guy who knows what anamnesis is to begin with. And that album would be top-to-bottom wretched. Maybe 63 seconds of salvageable material, and not consecutive seconds either.
In 2011, Europe's months-long Sonisphere Festival announced a major coup: for the first time ever, the Big 4 of American Thrash Metal would be playing together. I don't envy anyone who attended a Big 4 gig because, as I am fond of saying, if your festival doesn't begin with the letters A, T and P, fuck your festival. I'm gonna brave the elements, squirm through the natural and unnatural aromas of my fellow man, fork over the exorbitant moolah to receive enough nourishment so I don't lose consciousness and get violated by some blitzed-out shit-bags in Twilight shirts, all so maybe I get to hear "Evil Has No Boundaries"? No thanks. I saw Slayer live in 2007 at a standing room only venue with a capacity of 1200 and despite the lack of "Boundaries," I had a great time.
No matter my feelings, the shows were massively successful. While part of me is happy that these one-time harbingers of a new, exhilarating genre are still being graciously rewarded for their services, part of me is pissed that a nostalgia show is all they're basically good for anymore.
Yes, Metallica's last album was quite good. If the new song that they debuted in concert a few days ago is any indication, their new album will run in the same vein. Whether or not that's good news or bad news is entirely up to the standards of the individual listener.
Scott Ian swears Anthrax are done with the revolving door of lead singers. Joey Belladonna is telling media how he has never felt totally comfortable as a member of Anthrax. Yes, their last album was quite good. I'm not betting on a new one.
Slayer's last record was damned good. They're still touring and planning on recording the follow-up to World Painted Blood. Normally such news would give me the giddies, but the best of the Big 4 have had the worst fate befall them.
January 2011, Jeff Hanneman was relaxing in a buddy's hot tub when he was bitten on the right arm by an insect carrying necrotizing fasciitis--which is a flesh-eating disease. Leave it to someone in Slayer to get the flesh-eating disease.
He returned home a week later, and showed his arm to his wife. By this time the limb had swollen to approximately three times its normal size and was bright red in color. She was unable to convince her husband to visit the ER until the next morning, when he'd sobered up.
Hanneman was admitted for emergency surgery, after which doctors induced coma. After four days he was able to breathe on his own, and so began the "recovery process": more surgeries, skin grafts, physical rehabilitation. Meanwhile, Slayer continued touring, with former Exodus guitarist (and Hanneman pal) Gary Holt. Jeff was able to join Slayer for a two-song encore at a Big 4 show in Indio, CA on 4/23/2011, but a real return to action was obviously a long way off. Later that year, Tom Araya told Billboard.com that Slayer would not be recording any new music until Jeff was back: "There's no way we'd go into a studio without him….We require his musical skills, his writing skills."
2012 came and went. 2013 a sinkhole appeared and began swallowing the structure.
On Valentine's Day, Dave Lombardo released a statement informing fans he would not be performing on Slayer's imminent Australian tour. He had recently discovered some chicanery involving the group's income. Apparently, 90% of their 2012 earnings had been deducted as expenses. Spurred to action, he sat down with Tom and Kerry prior to rehearsals for the Aussie gigs and "proposed a new business model." Kerry, the giver of no fucks, told Dave to can it or get canned. Sure enough, near the end of May, Slayer announced that Dave was gone and Paul Bostaph was back in the band--and Dave found out along with the rest of us.
Incredibly, that was only the second-worst news for Slayer fans that month. On May 2, the world learned of Jeff Hanneman's death. Although speculation ran rampant that the insect bite was the culprit, the actual cause of death was cirrhosis of the liver. A long-time drinker, Hanneman's physical tribulations only served to accelerate his dependence on the bottle. Loved ones say his recovery wasn't going well enough or fast enough to suit Jeff, and he began losing hope at ever playing guitar at the proficiency and speed required to make a return to Slayer.
Lastly, there's Megadeth. Not long after the release of Super Collider, Dave Mustaine told 93X Radio that fans could expect a follow-up sooner than later: "Time is short….You see what happened with Jeff Hanneman, so I wanna write as much as I can while I can."
Oh. Cliff Burton getting crushed by a bus at the age of 24 didn't clue you in as to the ephemeral nature of existence on Earth? Gar fucking Samuelson's death didn't imbue you with a sense of urgency?
Is there a compelling reason (or reasons) for any of the Big 4 to go on as anything other than nostalgic cash-printing machines? What do any of them have left to prove, to themselves or anyone else? Anthrax will always be the Joey Fatone…Metallica will always be the mainstream behemoth whose albums automatically debut at number one…Megadeth will never have a number one album…Slayer will only damage their legacy. Honestly, the first three can do whatever the hell they want. Anthrax, make a country-rap album. Metallica, perform a concert on Mars. Megadeth, do an album comprised of nothing but "A Tout La Monde" in a dozen different musical styles, up to and including jazz fusion. It doesn't matter. But Slayer? I can't abide this. No offense to Gary Holt and Paul Bostaph, talented dudes both, but this band calling themselves Slayer are not Slayer. They are now the Tom and Kerry Show. Maybe they'll make a good record, maybe a great one (I sincerely doubt that, however). Maybe it will be a disaster. Conjecture shouldn't even be happening at this point, because after the death of their creative epicenter, Slayer should've called it a day. So long and thanks for all the Hail Satan!
There's a possibility the new Slayer album will feature at least one song written by Jeff Hanneman, and sure, I'd want to hear that. But what if it's a diamond surrounded by rock salt? Conjecture again!
Fuck it. Thank you very much for reading and experiencing the fantastic (even when it wasn't). Hope for the best, prepare for the worst, and take solace in what actually transpires.