Listening to Megadeth's 13th album, it's difficult not to consider Lulu, the collaborative concept album Metallica and Lou Reed released at the end of October. Compared to that universally panned disaster, Thirteen suggests that Megadeth's defiant leader, Dave Mustaine, has finally come out on top after a bitter, decades-long rivalry with Metallica, who fired him as their guitarist in 1983.
Thirteen makes a strong case for sticking to what you know. It's thrashy, angry and melody-packed, like Megadeth's best Peace Sells-era songs, and marks the return of bassist/founding member Dave Ellefson. There's also a delightfully ridiculous amount of guitar-shredding, something Mustaine has never compromised on even when his former band tamed their virtuosic tendencies for broader appeal (an approach that's made them multi-millionaires).
This isn't to say the album's perfect. In between standout tracks like Public Enemy No. 1, Never Dead and Fast Lane is less remarkable filler, and Mustaine's socially conscious lyrics are sometimes cringe-worthy. But his snarling vocals and guitar work never get old, and the production has a warmer, more vintage feel than steely recent albums. He wins this round.
Top track: Public Enemy No. 1