Hot shot producer Johnny K (previous clients: Machine Head, Mushroomhead, Disturbed) is all up in Megadeth’s Kool-Aid on Thirteen, going so far as to co-write roughly fifty percent of the album. The results are a surprising improvement over the last Megadeth effort, 2009’s perfectly enjoyable Endgame; tighter mixing plays to the veteran thrash band’s strengths while head ‘Dether Dave Mustaine thankfully avoids overextending himself on the vocals. Some credit should also be doled out to founding bassist Dave Ellefson—his return after a decade(ish) of exile probably provided some much-needed comfort for King of Pain Mustaine. Thirteen doesn’t boast any riffing as jaw-dropping as what the world heard on Rust in Peace or Peace Sells, but is that really a surprise? Most bands don’t even have half of a “Holy Wars…The Punishment Due” in them (plus, Megadeth’s currently pushing into the AARP zone). There’s no excuse for giving us another song about driving too fast, though. We get it, Dave. You got goddamn speeding tickets.
FINAL SCORE: Three Backwards Vic Rattleheads (out of four).