MEGADETH: The Sick, the Dying … and the Dead

The Slick, the Surviving … the Undead Megadeth!

In many ways, this long overdue album feels like a combination of United Abominations, Rust in Peace and the more contemporary vibes (especially the drums) of Dystopia. The poignant, biting and visceral lyrical depictions scream Countdown to Extinction/Youthanasia era. There is something in here, though, from just about every Megadeth era.

Musically this is a perfect blend of late’80’s era thrash and the power metal (with fast double bass drum rhythms) that characterizes ‘90’s era power metal. This is likely not accidental as the venerable Dave Mustaine – recently recovered from throat cancer – anchors the music close to Megadeth roots, but Kiko Loureiro (Angra) on guitars brings in that power metal vibe as he co-writes on 8 of the 12 tracks. Add to this the massive extreme metal drumming of Dirk Verbeuren (ex-Soilwork) – who amps the dynamic drumming on Dystopia (courtesy Chris Adler) to yet another level up here. And while James LoMenzo (White Lion/Black Label Society) will be the touring bassist, Steve DiGeorgio lays down the studio bass tracks.

Additionally, multiple tracks credit Brandon Ray (vocals), Eric Darken (percussion) and Roger Lima (keys/effects). There is even a guest appearance by Ice-T! on “Night Stalkers” – one of the most brutal tracks on the record. If this isn’t a song to lead elite military units into combat, and sow fear amidst the enemy, I don’t know one – total massive esprit de corps!

The guitars on these songs are fast, staccato and stinking heavy, and Verbeuren totally shreds on the drums, incorporating tons of rhythmic punctuations (“Psychotherapy,” “Life in Hell”) in addition to the relentless pummeling double bass. “Dogs of Chernobyl” and “Mission to Mars” incorporate cinematic effects in a way we have not heard from Mustaine in many, many years – both songs musically dynamic with informative/entertaining narratives.

Similarly, “Soldier On!” is an anthemic number, a metaphorical call to stand up against evil and brace for the onslaught, to be brave in the face of death.

“Of all the battles won and lost/The lives and treasures that it cost/I know I’ve got to soldier on/Watching mankind destroy itself/Walk straight into the mouth of Hell/I know I’ve got to soldier on”

Most fans have already heard the singles “Killing Time” and “We’ll Be Back” – this latter track a thrash frenzy that matches the quality and intensity of Metallica’s “Damage, Inc” and “Battery.” Intentional perhaps? Regardless, just killer!

The title track takes a historical journey yet somehow reflects our recent struggles as well, this one of the more distinctive songs on the album with its guitar build-up and more laid-back vibe.

The end result of all the great songwriting, collaborative performances, special effects, and visceral lyrical outpouring is a monster of an album, replete with clean production sheen. In that regard, this just feels like a massive Countdown to Extinction type record, maybe more something between United Abominations and that one in scope and execution.

Not surprisingly, the sound quality is superb, clean, yet aggressive and vintage Megadeth. Just can’t imagine much here fans wouldn’t enjoy. Mustaine’s voice does show the wear of time and treatments but honestly, it just adds all-the-more credibility to the good vs. evil, exploration of the dark side of mankind themes which permeate the Megadeth legacy.

The 24-page CD booklet has all the lyrics and credits with artwork to boot. Dystopia was and remains a very solid album, but I think this one – factoring in the songwriting, sound and lyrical acumen – is the best since Extinction.

Track Listing:

1. The Sick, The Dying … and the Dead (5:04)

2. Life in Hell (4:12)

3. Night Stalkers (6:38)

4. Dogs of Chernobyl (6:14)

5. Sacrifice (4:08)

6. Junkie (3:39)

7. Psychopathy (1:20)

8. Killing Time (5:12)

9. Soldier On! (4:54)

10. Celebutante (3:51)

11. Mission to Mars (5:23)

12. We’ll Be Back (4:29)

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