Listening to Megadeth takes some effort.
By the end of an album, if you get all the way through, expect the need for a respite. You pretty much get a full throttle sonic punch that either delights the senses or sends you running for the hills. If heavy/thrash metal music doesn’t fill your cup of tea, feel free to move on. But, I like Dave Mustaine. Just as Some Kind of Monster endeared me to Metallica so did the book Mustaine: A Heavy Metal Memoir endeared me to Dave and encouraged a deeper dive into his music. A fascinating read into the life, times and conversion of the founder of Megadeth.
I have the last release Dystopia, a greatest hits album and my 80s soundtrack would not be complete without “Hook in Mouth.” But while Megadeth tops my list of bands I want-to-see live, I’m not sure I’ve fully listened to an entire Megadeth album. Until now.
As such, Megadeth released their 16th album The Sick, The Dying…and the Dead! (Yes! Exclamation included!) today (Sept. 2), a 12-song record filled with nearly an hour of the ripest heavy metal guitar riffs you’ll ever hear. Every song, well except one, features Mustaine and his band head-banging away. But don’t think of The Sick, The Dying…and the Dead or even Megadeth as the music equivalent to a dumb jock in sports. Much goes into a Megadeth album and while not bereft of repetitive chords and songs my mother would describe as noise and “they all the sound the same” nowhere does the listener get mindlessly lost thanks to 55 minutes of 4/4 time chungchungchungchung monotonous melodies.
Because abrupt time signature changes, slick guitar riffs and even slicker guitar solos permeate this album from start to finish. Not to mention some stellar drum fills.
The title track, “Mission to Mars,” album closer “We’ll Be Back” with those stellar 80s thrash riffs, “Célebutante,” “Killing Time” and “Soldier On!” stand out as must listens and don’t let the sweet opening to “Dogs of Chernobyl” fool you. Then just wait until it rips around the four-minute mark. I wasn’t sold on “Night Stalkers” at first because of ICE-T but his bit part doesn’t distract and overall the longest song on the album brews an abundance of shred. Def Leppard does not make a guest appearance on “Junkie” even if the opening 10 seconds sounds exactly like the glam rockers from England.
Like other bands that become synonymous with the sole founding member, Mustaine is Megadeth and vice versa. And, Dave Mustaine knows what he’s doing when putting together Megadeth songs and The Sick, The Dying…and the Dead! further proves that maybe his departure from his old band 40 years ago was the best thing. He has a solid crew around him (James LoMenzo on bass, guitarist Kiko Loureiro and drummer Dirk Verbeuren) though no one seems able to keep or want their job very long. Mustaine, the founder of Megadeth in 1983 – along with bassist Dave Ellefson – fully functions as the conductor of this band which has seen dozens of members. Ellefson left for the second and final time last year after unseemly conduct with a fan.
Mustaine admits it. He doesn’t have a great singing voice. (I forget where I read that. Either in his memoir or an interview some years ago) Something I won’t argue with. Yes, he has vocals that take some time getting used to. Eventually they work though sometimes, I’ll admit, I wish whatever song I’m listening to was an instrumental.
But The Sick, The Dying…and the Dead! far exceeded expectations and Megadeth enters their fifth decade mega alive.
Megadeth The Sick, The Dying…and the Dead! Songs
- The Sick, The Dying…and the Dead!
- Life In Hell
- Night Stalkers
- Dogs of Chernobyl
- Killing Time
- Soldier On!
- Mission to Mars
- We’ll Be Back