Regardless of whether you're a newbie retro-thrasher or a veteran who has recently released your own comeback album, grab a pencil because Professor Mustaine is taking us all to school. Glaring down from his pulpit made of bone, the wild-eyed, fire-breathing Dave of old snarls out a sermon consisting of some of the most ferocious MEGADETH songs to assail the world in some time now. While "The System Has Failed" and "United Abominations" saw a bit of build back towards the glory days, nothing has come close to the venom and fury of "Rust In Peace" or the skilled display of songwriting that was "Countdown To Extinction" until now. Carrying the aforementioned elements, as well as a few more the band has picked up along the way, "Endgame", while not the pick of the litter ("Rust In Peace" will forever have that honor), is one incredibly powerful album that proves this dog still has plenty of fight left in him.
Right off the bat, Mustaine allows his new right-hand man, Chris Broderick (ex-JAG PANZER) introduce himself as a second-coming of Marty Friedman when they fire a series of blistering solos at one another on the instrumental opener, "Dialectic Chaos". This is just a warm-up compared to "This Day We Fight", which brings to life the curled-lip spite of classic MEGADETH; a sentiment echoed during the uber-pissed and pummeling "Head Crusher". Topical as always, Mustaine leans on the rhythm section of James Lomenzo (bass) and Shawn Drover (drums) to help create a mid-paced backdrop on which he retells the tale of the famed North Hollywood shootout. Said tune, along with the conspiracy theory-laden title track and the economic hardship-themed "The Right To Go Insane" will conjure fond memories of "Countdown To Extinction" for those who rank that album high on their list of favorites. Of course, we get to hear Dave feed his adrenaline monkey with "1,320" (think "502" meets "High Speed Dirt") and croon out an obligatory ballad in "The Hardest Part Of Letting Go… Sealed With A Kiss". The latter track brings enough melody to the table to catch ears, but I won't accuse it of being the album's proudest moment. Tunes like "Bodies" and "Bite The Hand" are solid additions to the MEGADETH catalog, but are overshadowed by the more savage sections of the disc.
Love 'em or hate 'em, but you can't deny 'em. They're MEGADETH and they're back with a vengeance not felt in a handful of albums. Sure, I would have rather seen Vic Rattlehead's mean mug slapped across the cover, but he still makes an appearance one page into the booklet. Not that it matters, as his blood boils throughout much of this album and Mustaine spews it out for a fanbase that's long been thirsting for the toxin. I'm not sure what got into Dave this time out, but I hope he puts whatever it was in a locket and wears that fucker around his neck until retirement.