Megadeth have once again returned with a new album. Megadeth The Sick The Dying and the Dead is the bands 16th Album, capping off a career that has almost broken 40 years. If you think about it this is amazing for a few reasons the main one being that Megadeth play an intense brand of heavy metal that requires both talent, speed and technical control of the instrument at a level that few bands ever reach , let alone maintain for such a long period.
ME AND MEGADETH
I was a big fan of Megadeth in the periods 1990 through to 1994. At the time they were musically and technically far beyond their contemporaries and opened me up to the idea of “Shred” guitar playing and paved the way for me to get into extreme metal. Their albums had a sense of menace and spite about them. Band leader, Dave Mustaine played with a venom and anger that few ever matched. When their album “Youthanasia” came out, I felt that it was a little “weak” for my tastes. I was more pre-occupied with the exploding Death Metal and Black Metal scenes of the time. After that their subsequent albums were even weaker in my opinion so I basically lost touch with the band.
In 2001 “The World needs a Hero” was released. It signalled a return to the band playing fast again. I was glad to see this, but in my opinion the album lacked the “hate” that Dave Mustaine played with before, but at the time many long time fans i knew were getting back into the band. My main gripe was the anger that fuelled early Megadeth releases wasn’t there, and at the time I had wide arsenal of underground bands that I liked that could provide me with that. I did keep checking back on the band and since then have bought most of their albums they put out post 2000, but I’d never returned to the level of Megadeth worship that I held in my teen years.
MEGADETH THE SICK THE DYING AND THE DEAD
Megadeth The Sick the Dying and the Dead is this years release. It opens up with “The Sick, the Dying and the Dead” and its obvious Mr Mustaine means business. Great riffage and melodies. As usual Dave Mustaine has written most, if not all of the music on the record. After the first song, Upon initial listen the next couple of songs contained some of the fastest and sharpest (tightness and articulation on the guitar) guitar work I’ve ever heard from Dave, especially the song “Nightstalkers”.
After that adrenaline hit, the rest of the album basically follows suit, with riffage after riffage flung at the listener. This is particularly impressive as the man is now 62 years of age and playing faster and more precisely than most professional heavy metal guitar players ever do at any point in their lifetime. Possibly faster and more precise than he’s ever played. The riffs are just glorious the whole way through the album. The guitar solo’s are other worldly, capable of melting faces. The 2nd guitar, bass and drums are handled by some of the industries best musicians and while i can’t pick any flaws in their playing they’re really there to build a foundation under Dave Mustaine’s guitar work.
Seeing things like this really renews my faith in Heavy metal. Now here’s a couple of sticking point for me:
1) basically Dave’s vocals are pretty ordinary at times. The vocals on this harken back a little to the days of old, which is great. At times they still sound whiney. I liked his angry snarl of old, it perfectly suited the music on those first 4 or 5 albums. But once he started trying to sing and hold a melody, it fell on its ass in my opinion. I don’t know if finding God, starting a family, quitting drugs or becoming independently wealthy, made him loose that angry edge but I don’t feel the vocals suited the music for years there, but now they seem to be coming back in the right direction.2) The production has a really “Pro Tools” vibe to it. – For those that don’t know what this means, Pro Tools is a way of recording music on a computer. So basically anyone can now do this in their home. The downside of this is that people who maybe shouldn’t be producing are able to record albums. This album doesn’t fall into that category, its very professionally recorded, but maybe thats my issue with it. You can record digitally but still have a live feel to it. This does not, everything is so clinical and precise and clean, the album has lost any sense of the thrash metal of old. Some may see this as a plus. Not me. Minor gripe, but again with guitar playing this intense maybe they need this clinical production to not loose the guitar work.
THE FINAL VERDICT
Sticking points aside, I’m glad I listened to this. This is the best thing I’ve heard come out of Megadeth in a long time (Since the 90’s anyway). It may not be my idea of what an ideal Megadeth album should be, but at this point I don’t think thats ever going to happen again. I should point out te album does seem to cover ground from a lot of different releases so it should please most fans. On the flip side there’d be plenty of fans that have gotten into the band after the early 1990’s that probably like their new style better. Maybe I’m just old. Either way the Album is still pretty damn impressive!
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