Megadeth – Risk
1999, Capitol Records
2. “Prince of Darkness”
3. “Enter the Arena”
4. “Crush ‘Em”
6. “The Doctor Is Calling”
7. “I’ll Be There”
11. “Time: The Beginning”
12. “Time: The End”
Dave Mustaine – Lead Vocals, Guitar
Marty Friedman – Guitar, Backing Vocals
David Ellefson – Bass, Backing Vocals
Jimmy DeGrasso – Drums
Produced by Dan Huff and Dave Mustaine
Okay, Risk is what most Megadeth fans will agree to be the band’s worst album. I’m not too sure if I agree with that. There’s a number of tracks here that I like a lot. It was definitely something else though, even further removed from Megadeth’s roots than the commercial Countdown to Extinction or Youthanasia albums were. The album is different, that’s for sure. Different doesn’t necessarily mean bad though.
I’m not really sure how you’d describe this album. There are elements of metal, hard rock, alternative rock and, yes, even pop music. The album is certainly an oddity in the band’s catalog but it does have its charms.
“Crush ‘Em” is the song I remember getting the most push from this album. Megadeth performed the song live once on WCW Monday Nitro and then WCW pro wrestler Goldberg used it as his entrance music for a while. The song was also featured on the soundtrack to Universal Soldier: The Return, which Goldberg also had a role in. I think it was even used at sporting events for awhile. I guess it served its purpose. Mustaine has since called the song “dumb” and says he doesn’t like it. Of course it’s dumb, it’s a sports anthem! It’s dumb, but dumb fun.
If I’m remembering correctly, this album was the source of a lot of strife in the life of Mustaine and the band. Dave still wanted to one-up Metallica but wasn’t totally sure if this alternative rock/pop direction was the way to go, but the label was insisting. Meanwhile, Marty Friedman was becoming disgruntled working within the confines of Megadeth. You’d think he’d have been happier than ever in Megadeth consider this was a light album and he went on to recording pop songs once quitting the band and relocating to Japan.
There’s definitely some off-the-wall sounding songs here when you consider this is Megadeth. “Breadline” is a very good rock/pop song while “The Doctor Is Calling”, “Wanderlust”, “Ecstasy”, “Time: The Beginning” are semi-ballads with a strange almost trippy vibe to them.
Though sales were disappointing at the time, given everyone thought this was going to be the big “breakthrough” mainstream album for Megadeth, the album went on to sell over 500,000 copies. That puts it on level with 1997’s Cryptic Writings so I don’t consider Risk to be a commercial failure when looking strictly at the numbers. And despite negative reviews, it’s actually the last Megadeth album to be certified gold.
Listening to the album now, it’s not as bad as everyone makes it out to be. But I never thought it was bad even when I first heard it. Again, it’s just different. In the Megadeth catalog, I might actually rank it above the hard, fast & bland Thirteen and Endgame albums. Those two album had a handful of really good songs but I daresay Risk is more consistent.
Highlights: “Insomnia”, “Crush ‘Em”, “Breadline”, “The Doctor Is Calling”, “I’ll Be There”, “Wanderlust”, “Ecstasy”, “Time: The Beginning”