JAM Magazine Concert Reviews

March 3, 2012
ACL Moody Theater
Austin, TX USA
Review by Justin Press
Photos by Scott Dworkin

Megadeth - Austin

Deth Comes A Ripping........

The final date on any tour can cross swords at the axis of "let's just get this over with" or "let's fire it up one more time". Thankfully, for veteran metal stalwarts Megadeth, it was the latter as the fearsome foursome was all hands on deck as their 90-minute sonic assault was a blistering master-class in textured thrash, big radio rock and pure snarl.

Led by the human flamethrower Dave Mustaine, and his incendiary guitar work, Megadeth cut a swath across the capacity gathering at the rather plush surroundings of ACL Live/Moody Theater in Austin. The band's streamlined stage set-up consisted of a wall of amplifiers, the now requisite video wall, and a battalion of lighting could not hide the fact that Mustaine and his metallic crew remains a brutal, yet concise wrecking ball of furious riffs, math heavy rhythms and when need be, a groove machine.

Opening with the classic 80's thrash earth-movers "Set the World Afire" and "Wake Up Dead", Mustaine laid down the template for the evening with his long-time partner in chaos bassist Dave Ellefson, as well as guitarist Chris Broderick and drummer Shawn Drover. The 17-song set consisted of searing runs thru the band's near 30-year career as well as a few new tracks that surprisingly flowed well amongst the more lava-swollen numbers like "She-Wolf" and "Ashes in Your Mouth".

Awash in prison tower strength lighting, billows of dry ice and a consistently revolving panel of LED images, Megadeth inter-played their attack between their notable crushers and their mid 1990's melodically driven tunes like "Trust" and "Angry Again". Even those radio dial giants were no match for what may have very well been the evening's finest delivery, a very lethal and emotive "In My Darkest Hour". The crowd just exploded when Mustaine hit the line "....but I gotta die first, oh please God send me on my way!" The guitars locked in and took the track from a proto-metal ballad into a scorching head-banging salvo.

With that confession, the audience this night was "all in" as 'deth came a ripp;ing. Fans wildly thrust their fists sky ward, hair was flailing all about, and an air guitar army appeared looking for a village to conquer. But this night was not without it's dire moment as opener Lacuna Coil's vocalist Christina Scabbia joined the band for "A Tout Le Monde." Despite Mustaine and Sabbia trade-offs with hinge tight rhythms, this complex track with French choruses couldn't be rescue from what seemed to a non-gelling situation. Don't get me wrong here. This is a great studio song that's hard to pull off live.

This night however, there was more than enough firepower in Megadeth's war chest to offset this misfire. None were more decisive than the explosive "Sweating Bullets." This song is a culmination of all things the band does extremely well. There was Dave's "piss and vinegar" delivery, jackhammer grooves, machine gun riffs and a chugging section that provided plenty of fodder for the 2000 plus in attendance. It is one of the quintessential metal testaments of the last 25 years. Some surely sought chiropractic help come the morning sun.

Mustaine, ever the politically active rocker, took his vengeance out on the current administration gone haywire with "Symphony of Destruction" and Megadeth's own ground zero masterpiece, "Peace Sells." By the way, what 'Deth show is complete without the ball-twisting riffs and dexterity of "Holy Wars....", which to this day goes toe to toe with Slayer's "Angel of Death" and "Metallica's "Battery" as metal's true battering ram.

From this evening's performance, it's evident that the band found new life with the return of Ellefson, a Grammy worthy new album in 13 and an ever-increasing landscape of zealots that Mustaine can take aim it. There moniker may suggest a nuclear demise but Megadeth isn't done living just yet.

Due to an illness in the Motorhead camp, Lemmy and the band did not perform the entire last week of shows on Gigantour. It was a massive loss for those in attendance, but the loss was more than made up for by mid-opener, Denmark's Volbeat. Mixing a blend of Misfits, Metallica, rockabilly on over-drive, the band (which included guitarist Hank Shermann of Mercyful Fate) worked over the strengths of their four studio albums, including their latest Beyond Hell/Above Heaven.

"The Human Instrument", "Who They Are" and the opening "A Warrior's Call" were over-driven metal nuggets that were an odd twist of American speed and Danish twists and turns. In homage to the fallen Motorhead, the band twice laid into "Ace of Spades" and even put their mark on the intro to the aforementioned Slayer's "Raining Blood". Volbeat, who are huge overseas and highly regarded by the likes of the Metallica camp, are one stroke of luck away from the big time on these shores.