Metal titans Megadeth released their sixteenth album on Fri 2nd September, The Sick, The Dying … and The Dead! aptly titled for a record written and recorded during the pandemic, and during Dave Mustaine’s battle and recovery from throat cancer. At this stage in their career each new album release is somewhat of an event as their astonishing discography now dates back 38 years to their debut in 1985, Killing Is My Business … and Business Is Good!
Their early material is rightfully considered as some of the finest from the era, cementing their reputations as pioneers of Thrash and one of the ‘Big Four’ genre bands alongside Metallica, Slayer and Anthrax. Megadeth’s songwriting peaked in 1990 with the release of Rust In Peace arguably one of the top three Thrash albums ever recorded, before they started to produce material throughout the 90s that was influenced by the alternative music scene and their record label’s desire for them to crossover and hit a wider fan base.
It’s fair to say their output in the 2000’s has had its share of ups and downs, there has been some good material, some not so good material, but largely a lot of average material that has never quite reached the heights of their hey-day. And The Sick, The Dying … and The Dead! is an interesting one, in that it feels and sounds like an attempt at a real nostalgic throwback to their early days,
The album opens with the tolling of ominous sounding bells, chiming through an icy wind with the chant of ‘Bring out your Dead!’ A beautiful sounding guitar intro follows before the track drops into absolute classic sounding Megadeth. There are further examples of 80’s-esq Thrash on ‘Celebutablė’, ‘We’ll Be Back’ and ‘Night Stalker’ (featuring a brief cameo from Ice T), While ‘Dogs Of Chernobyl’ is another strong track which wouldn’t have sounded out of place on Rust In Peace … and well those six tracks make up half of a great record.
Elsewhere however the album starts to drift closer to their later more average output, and there are also some absurdly clichè lyrics from Mustaine on the tracks ‘Junkie’ and ‘Mission To Mars’. Mustaine’s voice is also a little sporadic throughout, at times sounding as great as he ever did, but at others sounding a little strained which is reflective of his mature years, and absolutely understandable given what he went through with the cancer.
One thing that stands out though, is that the guitar work is absolutely fucking fantastic throughout. There are some fine riffs as you would expect, but what really stands is the lead work from Dave and Kiki Loureiro, who masterfully trade mind-bending solo’s, again mostly with a firm nod to the golden age of the classic Thrash era. This is now Loureiro’s second album with Megadeth and it sounds like the two are totally in sync and pushing each other’s skills to the max. Long term fans of the band are going to find a lot to enjoy on The Sick, The Dying … and The Dead! It might just be the strongest record they have made in years, despite a patchy few songs … and certainly goes to show that there is life left in the old dog yet!
Words by Abstrakt_Soul
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