It was probably inevitable that, almost 30 years down the line, some members of the ‘Big Four’ would start collaborating at one level or another – but the teaming of Megadeth mainman Dave Mustaine and original Anthrax guitarist Dan Spitz may not seem to be the most obvious couple to team.
But, that’s just what they done, with this project put together specifically to raise awareness about autism (Spitz’ identical twins both suffer from the incurable condition), with Mustaine writing all the lyrics and Spitz contributing all the music, with the latter then teaming up with Nine Inch Nails’ Chris Venna, former W.A.S.P. drummer Patrick Johansson and vocalist Don Chaffin from Voices Of Extreme to lay down the resulting album (although Mustaine doesn’t actually play on it, he also acted as co-producer), with the help of Grammy-nominated producer Johnny K (of Disturbed, Machine Head and Staind fame).
Mustaine’s fingerprints are all over the vast majority of the album, especially in terms of the song structures and their feel, especially on the early triptych of ‘Runaway Train’, ‘Standby Passenger’ and ‘One Shell (In The Chamber)’ and again later on ‘Don’t Threaten To Love Me’.
And therein lies the problem: this sounds too much like a Megadeth album: rather a good one, but a Megadeth album nonetheless, with the main culprit in this regard being Chaffin, who by and large sounds like an identical clone of Mustaine, even right down to the flame-haired one’s trademark snarl.
Yes, there are moments of variance from the Megadeth path, such as the atmospheric opener, ‘The Cage’, which has a slightly Disturbed feel to it, or the nu-metal experimentation of the backing vocal on the otherwise derivative ‘Art Of War’. Another complaint is some of the lyrics, which border on the extreme edge of inanity, especially on the likes of ‘Puzzle Box’, a song which epitomiozes the very worthy intentions of the project as a whole but also summarizes its overall failure to deliver.
1. The Cage
2. Runaway Train
3. Standby Passenger
4. One Shell (In The Chamber)
5. Puzzle Box
7. Keep Pushing Me
8. Get Up
9. Don’t Threaten To Love Me
10. Angels Of War
‘Red Lamb’ is released on Haansel & Gretel / MIG Music on December 10th: http://www.mig-music-shop.com/index.php?page=search&page_action=query&desc=on&sdesc=on&keywords=red+lamb&x=15&y=10