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Review: Rattlehead - Step Inside for the Slaughter
Step Inside for the Slaughter

Label: Independent
Year released: 2008
Duration: 41:12
Tracks: 9
Genre: Thrash Metal


Review online: December 10, 2009
Reviewed by: Mike Henn
Readers' Rating
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Rated 3.3/5 (66%) (10 Votes)

Megadeth has had a very long and illustrious career, as hilly as it may be, so a truly mediocre album by them is actually somewhat different. They always seem to either be completely awesome (Rust in Peace, Peace Sells) or fucking terrible (Risk, Cryptic Writings). Sure, Countdown to Extinction and United Abominations were very middle-of-the-road, but that was more because of the fact that they were about half good songs and half bad songs as opposed to albums full of just okay tracks. So therefore, their often overlooked 2008 output, Step Inside for the Slaughter, is somewhat of a black sheep in their discography.

As most people with a working pair of ears can tell, Dave Mustaine actually doesn't commandeer the vocal duties on this album. This was because Jared MacEachern of Sanctity filled in during recording after Mustaine's throat was incapacitated during a semi-successful attempt at sucking his own dick. As a result, the initial listen leaves a Megadeth fan like me and several others rather uncomfortable. Could you imagine hearing Motörhead without Lemmy? It's the same here. The riffs are undeniably Mustaine, the solos are undeniably Mustaine, and the general feel of every song is 100%, undeniably Dave Mustaine, so hearing them without his signature snarl is just bizarre. I won't bash this album for that though, as the simple fact that it is a different vocalist isn't a valid reason for degrading a musical piece. But I have absolutely no qualms bashing the vocalist because he's simply not very good. He barks out the same monotone, low shout for every line. I'm not sure if you're incredibly talented or very awful if your voice manages to sound like it's hitting the same note even when the pitch obviously changes, but it sounds bad so I'm going to assume it just means he's a shitty vocalist. As far as lyrics go, I'll give Dave some props for resisting his infatuation with politics for this album, focusing instead on violence. But sadly, they just don't pack the same punch they used to, so a majority of the vocal performance just sounds like a man going through the motions without too much fire.

Thankfully, that's pretty much the only bad part about Step Inside for the Slaughter. Well, the production is kind of confusing; what with the leads sounding like they were recorded in a different room with different equipment and such, but the actual music featured here is top notch. The only thing that keeps it from being fantastic is, apart from the obvious vocal pratfalls, is the fact that it sounds more like Dave was trying to write Peace Sells or Rust in Peace a second time as opposed to making a furious, melodic, and violent album like he's so good at doing. The cool part is that those two albums are so great, that even obvious worship still kicks ass. For example, even though "Shades of Black" sounds a hell of a lot like "Holy Wars" in parts, it still smokes as much face as its predecessor. "Red October" and "Blood of the Innocent", along with most every other track, now that I think about it, sound like demos that just barely missed the cut when Peace Sells was being recorded. They're damn near as good as most Megadeth songs from that era, but here they are marred by a bad vocal performance and the fact that they're just, when you boil it down, not quite as memorable as the tracks that made the cut. I could hum "Devil's Island" in my sleep, but I'd be hard pressed to recall the chorus riff to "House of Meiwes" even after quite a few listens.

The bottom line here is that Megadeth can do better. I understand that Dave and his new recruits aren't quite in their prime anymore, but a lot of the riffs here just sound like reworkings of earlier masterpieces. Don't get me wrong, they still manage to sound great, but cheese is better than molded milk. What I'm saying is that it's close, but not quite up to par. The solos are delicious, the riffs are good, the lyrics are stupid, and the vocals are bad, so at least the inconsistencies manage to stay constant, if that makes any sense.

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