While Metallica is in Lulu-land, in the doghouse of fans and critics alike, sometime-nemesis Megadeth stay the metal course with another solid release served without the pretense of musical evolution or artsy growth. Other than its silly numbers-as-letters title, TH1RT3EN is the 'Deth focusing on its strengths and building upon them, foremost the ability to craft tight, melodic songs true to its legacy. There's the added stability brought by bassist David Ellefson, returning to the fold after a decade on the outs with notably difficult bandleader Dave Mustaine. A few of the songs were cherry picked from sessions in the early-to-mid-'90s, when the thrash legends were at a muscular peak. "New World Order" is one of them, dated in name only, as is "Black Swan," with a driving riff that sounds old-school but welcome on today's metal landscape. Previously Mustaine's voice was reason enough to cut any rating in half, but here Mega Dave isn't even that annoying. Perhaps it's because the music is so strong, or maybe it's that he's giving exactly what you expect and doesn't try to be anything else.
MEGADETH + MOTÖRHEAD + VOLBEAT + LACUNA COIL | Tsongas Center, 300 Martin Luther King Jr. Way, Lowell | January 29 @ 6:30 pm | $39.50–$49.50 | 978.934.5760