Review: Megadeth – ‘The Sick, The Dying…And The Dead!’

Megadeth, the revolving door of musicians fronted by Metal legend Dave Mustaine release their long-awaited sixteenth studio album ‘The Sick, The Dying…And The Dead!’ on September 2nd.

It’s been six long years since Megadeth dropped ‘Dystopia’ on us and the world seemed very different back then. Now with the world in utter chaos following pandemics, wars, global environmental issues, and corrupt governments, there couldn’t be a more fitting time for Mustaine and his current troupe of metalheads to release a new album.

Opening to the sound of a tolling bell and 14th century Black Death dead collector calling out “Bring Out Your Dead”, I can’t help feeling Covid must have been an inspiration for the title track. An ominous clean guitar part builds tension before the Megadeth we know and love explodes out of the speakers! The lyrics tell the story of the Black Death and there is even a “Ring a Ring a Roses” refrain. Musically it’s everything great about Megadeth, fast, ferocious, and melodic with some wonderful harmonic parts. Lead guitarist Kiko Loureiro’s solo is tastefully executed and complements the song perfectly.

Elsewhere within this record, we have ‘Night Stalkers’ a song about a black ops helicopter battalion featuring hip-hop and rap metal legend Ice-T. It’s standard Megadeth subject matter but it’s what Mustaine does best. It could be a coincidence but a song about Chernobyl (‘Dogs Of Chernobyl’) on an album released during the conflict in Ukraine could mean MegaDave is getting all his best material from the news…

Making their Megadeth debuts on this record are drummer Dirk Verburen who absolutely smashes it on this album with his tight machine-like rhythms, and a last-minute replacement…following the dismissal of long-term bassist Dave Ellefson, Testament and metal session bassist Steve DiGiorgio was drafted at the last minute to re-record the bass parts (James LoMenzo recently rejoined the band as permanent bassist). This is no Jason Newstead scenario here. DiGiorgio’s bass is easily noticeable on several tracks and it’s punchy and full-bodied.

Now, it’s time to talk about the turd in the punch bowl. Firstly the good points. Musically ‘Mission to Mars has no complaints from me, tight muscular riffs with a slight ‘Hanger 18’ feel to it in the pre-choruses. The musical interlude does feel like they forgot to produce it and feels tacked on though (okay, one complaint about the music). Now the bad points. The lyrics to this song are dreadful: “I wanna, I wanna be an astronaut I wanna, I wanna wanna”. A song about a space crew landing on Mars that supposedly gets attacked by aliens, mostly told through radio communications like a cheap BBC radio play. There are too many sound effects and it breaks the song up too much. This kind of thing is not new for Megadeth but in the past, it has been done far better than this. At the very least it’s dumb fun but I kinda expect my conspiracy theories from Mustaine to feel a little more real. The song doesn’t know what it wants to be. A hopeful song about the wonder of space travel and a tacky sci-fi horror stitched together badly. At least the first half had lyrics, the second is just voice-overs.

Album closer ‘We’ll Be Back’ (the album’s first single) is the real stand-out belter on here. Brutal, fast, and aggressive with some dizzying lead guitar from both Loureiro and Mustaine! The tolling bell returns during the choruses on this number which kinda bookends the album without it being too obvious, which I like a lot.

On the whole, this album rocks pretty hard and is a welcome return for Megadeth, just skip ‘Mission to Mars’ and it’s a solid 7 out of 10.

Available September 2nd through UMC, more information here.

Review – Colin Plumb

Photo credit – Travis Shinn

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