[Album Review] “Risk” – Megadeth

Risk - MegadethAlbum Title: Risk
Artist: Megadeth
Year: 1999
Running Time: 51m 36s

Track listing: 1 Insomnia; 2 Prince of Darkness; 3 Enter the Arena; 4 Crush ‘Em; 5 Breadline; 6 The Doctor is Calling; 7 I’ll be There; 8 Wanderlust; 9 Ecstasy; 10 Seven; 11 Time: The Beginning; 12 Time: The End

Is ‘Risk’ a very misunderstood album?

Chances were that this record would get slated, and that’s exactly what’s happened. It’s a far cry from the power and anarchy of “Rust in Peace” or even the more measured angst of “Cryptic Writings”.

We start off very promisingly with an interesting slice of pseudo-industrial metal with an orchestral tinge – “Insomnia”. Any Megadeth bashers I play that track to are quite impressed. “Prince of Darkness” is a decent throwback to the Dave’s ‘dark side’, but still ends up sounding a little bit like a parody of Megadeth’s earlier work. Lyrically though it’s rather entertaining, and a little thought provoking, although not in the same vein of RIP or “Countdown to Exctinction”. The stadium anthem “Crush Em” is a fun rocker that suffers from it’s tight arrangement, but the thundering chrorus and babbling mid-section excels.

My favourite track on the album is probably the power-ballad “Breadline”. Never has a song sounded so little like Megadeth (up till now anyway!). Not much in the way of groundbreaking guitar or lyrical work here, but it’s a top notch radio-friendly track about a man who is about to lose everything. In one way it’s embarrasing to think about the band performing this on stage after “Holy Wars” or “Wake Up Dead”, but it ranks up there with their best music I think. I’d be interested to hear what the band think of the track.

“The Doctor is Calling” is a really lame and laborious 80s-esque rocker that has few redeeming features. “I’ll be There” is incredibly much worse – Dave gets a bit ‘Europe’ on us. Those two should have been left on the cutting room floor. A couple of, shall we say, ‘interesting’ cuts follow.

I actually like “Wanderlust”. A low-key build up leads us to the mid-tempo chorus which rocks pretty well. A touch of The Eagles for “Ecstasy”. Dave natters over an easy-listening riff, before the band go full pelt for the chorus – ‘the sin I bring called ecstasy’ – and then we’re back to the rather pleasant rhythm section again. Not bad.

“Seven” is just awful. The Black Crowes and Aerosmith would be shamed to record something like this. A terribly pointless jam with horrendus solo.

“Time: the Beginning” is another power ballad, but without the vivre of “Breadline”. Anaemic. “Time: the End” turns things up a bit. At least there are some riffs to speak of. This is a sound akin to “Cryptic Writings” or even “Countdown to Extinction”. Good way to end the record.

And there you have it. 3 complete abominations (“Seven”, “I’ll be There”, “The Doctor is Calling”), 3 rather good songs (“Insomnia”, “Crush Em”, “Breadline”), 2 worthy, interesting tracks (“Wanderlust”, “Ecstasy”) and the rest just sitting somewhere in the middle.

To answer my initial question, I do think “Risk” has suffered from some over-reaction. Certainly die-hard metal fans won’t like it, but this is a good record which deserves it’s place in Megadeth history like any other. I do hope the final record for Capitol though is a return to roots.


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