Is Megadeth Struggling To Stay Relevant?

Megadeth

People can say what they will about the state and direction of the music industry today, but one fact that’s difficult to deny is that an increasingly active market for genre mixing and collaborations is helping numerous artists to stay relevant. For instance, in the past couple of years we’ve seen Paul McCartney team up with Rihanna and Kanye West, and Tony Bennett record an album with Lady Gaga. It almost seems like anything is fair game. Except, for the most part, thrash and heavy metal artists have been left out.

So it is for Megadeth, which despite being one of the truly iconic names in the thrash/metal genre is showing signs of slowing down and struggling to fit in with the modern music scene. According to Metal Injection, the group’s last original album, Super Collider, sold only about half as well as the preceding Thirteen. Now, declines can happen to any band. And for a group that’s produced nearly 20 records, you can’t expect each new album to have better sales than the one before it. But a sales decline of roughly half is pretty significant.

To its credit, however, Megadeth is still pouring a great deal of energy into its work. Fans will know that a 15th studio album is in the works, with drummer Chris Adler claiming the goal is to make the “very best thrash album” possible. Additionally, perhaps in an attempt to reach out to a younger and/or different generation, the band has lent its image to a video game. It’s actually a slot machine game hosted at InterCasino’s online gaming platform, which you can play on the site. Presented with photo images of the band in its glory days, the game (simply called Megadeth) employs heavy metal musical themes and various perks and bonuses based on band lore. This sort of partnership probably shows some strategic savvy on both sides—the gaming site reaching an audience of metal fans and perhaps some older visitors, and the band bein
g presented alongside trendy games for younger audiences.

Despite the ambition of the forthcoming album and some strategic marketing plays, however, Megadeth appears to be struggling quite visibly if you take a look. Not long ago, the band was essentially rejected by guitarist Rusty Cooley, who was asked to come on board to replace Chris Broderick (who left the group in late 2014). Per Blabbermouth, Cooley was cordial about turning down the offer, but did so because he didn’t want to be stuck playing other people’s guitar parts and solos. It stands to reason that a lot of up-and-coming guitarists would have accepted the offer purely out of ambition. However, the idea of today’s artist losing interest in playing old parts belonging to other people can’t be a good sign for an act looking to regroup.

Even more ominous, however, is how the band is approaching its next album. The guitarist issue has been solved, and Dave Mustaine is very confident that Megadeth has found an excellent player. But even so, A.V. Club reports that Megadeth is looking to produce its 15th album via crowdfunding. They’re not the first band to take this approach, but given waning interest and the aforementioned poor sales numbers for Super Collider, one has to wonder if it’s more a desperate move than a strategic or experimental one.

All in all, the picture isn’t good, and it’s reasonable to assume Megadeth is on its way out, slowly but surely. However, fans of the band should be ecstatic that despite all of these struggles, Mustaine and Co. are determined in writing new music, sticking to their core genre, and doing all they can to stay in the spotlight.