In Defense of Their Good Name is a new column where we rise to the defense of bands or albums that are often criticized in the metal scene. If you have a band or album that you think should be defended, let us know.
Fun fact: out of all the bands in the Big Four of Thrash, Megadeth has the most studio albums under its belt as of 2014. Part of this is due to the fact that their contemporaries were dealing with either a revolving door of vocalists (Anthrax) or simply avoiding the studio altogether (Metallica) over the years. Still, Megadeth bear the honor of having fourteen studio albums. That said, the old saying “quality over quantity” probably crosses many people’s minds (although those same people probably wouldn’t consider this saying to be true of Metallica). Today, I’m going to defend one of Megadeth’s albums that many have considered not only one of the worst albums of 2013, but possibly the band’s worst since Risk: Super Collider.
To be clear, this isn’t just a group of fans divided over Megadeth’s latest outing; people seriously dislike this album. It has a score of 38/100 on Metacritic and more metal centric sites like MetalSucks and Metal Injection have made their distaste for the album known. And while we don’t normally do reviews on this site, we thought we’d tackle the album not in terms of a review, but more of a counterpoint.
Let’s get this out of the way first: if you haven’t heard the whole album or you’ve only heard the title track, your opinion is invalid. The reason is this; the title track, admittedly, rests closer to the bottom of the barrel compared to the rest of the band’s catalogue. But how many of the people who’ve dismissed Super Collider have done so only after hearing the title track? I’ll tell you right now that if the first song released from the album had been something like “Kingmaker” or “Built For War”, the album would not have had so many people writing it off before hearing the whole thing. With that in mind, let me tell you about the songs that make this album better than people think:
“Kingmaker” – I think the worst thing anyone can say about this song is that it sounds a lot like Black Sabbath’s “Children of the Grave” in terms of structure. But you know what? “Children of the Grave” is an awesome song, so if your song is going to sound like a Sabbath song, it might as well be this one. Also, does anyone remember how many great Metallica songs have riffs that sound a lot like Sabbath riffs?
“Built For War” – This song probably has the most meat on the bones so to speak a probably would have made a better follow-up track to “Kingmaker” than the title track. It’s got some great riffage that constantly pushes the song forward. And, of course, there’s this hooky lyrics “Built for war / What do you think your fists are for?”. It’s classic Megadeth.
“Dance In The Rain” – Okay, so the title sounds kind of lame. The track itself isn’t, however. It starts out slow with Dave Mustaine’s signature muttering over shit that’s wrong with the world. The last half of the song picks up the pace and brings in David Draiman for guest vocals that actually integrate with the music well enough that you might miss them.
“Cold Sweat” – It’s a Thin Lizzy cover, it’s great, and that’s all there is to it.
“A House Divided” – I’m cheating a bit here since this is a bonus track, but it’s still a track from the album. The horn parts heard throughout sound like something out of a western film, which is really cool. When the tempo picks up in the middle, Mustaine launches in to your usual Megadeth political ramblings about the government sucking.
With all that said, there’s one other detail about the album that makes metalheads throw it in the junkpile: it’s more of a hard rock album than a thrash metal album. If you’re a band and you ever want to make a metalhead slap the suck label on your album, make it a hard rock album because that apparently takes away all of your credibility. I’ll be the first to tell you that Megadeth’s best album in the past 5 years is the significantly thrashier Endgame, but calling Super Collider a bad album solely because it lacks thrash is typical metalhead shallowness.
Bottom line, albums need to age before a final judgment can be formed, and speaking about eight months after its release, Super Collider might be far from Megadeth’s brightest moment, but it also isn’t their darkest hour (pun intended).