Review Summary: An excellent album that shows a grown up and mature approach to Megadeth.
‘…no prophet could interpret’. Lyrics from this album, Megadeth’s United Abominations
. Certainly, no prophet could have interpreted that this album was to come from this stable of randomly assorted musicians, that only a few years ago, were releasing sub-par pop albums and trying to get the ‘jock’ entity of mainstream America into their music (don’t believe me? On the Remastered version of Risk
, the remix of Crush ‘Em
is entitled ‘Jock mix’). Thankfully, gone are those days, and here, we have an album that stands up to past efforts.
After the renewed interest in Megadeth following 2004’s stomping The System Has Failed
, many who had written Megadeth off were eating their words. Sure, the album was hardly a technical masterpiece, and it was highly unlikely to have many live setlist highlights, but as an overall reassurance that this is the same band that made those 80’s thrash set pieces, it was no turkey either.
, on the other hand, is an album that attempts to take everything to the next level. It’s retrospective in that it takes from all eras of Megadeth, and yet it’s modern in that it’s able to bring everything all to the front, to create an album that appeals to long-time Deth-heads and people who previously held no love for the band before.
This is mostly evident in the mix of songs they have; quite a few are new thrash metal anthems and there are more than a few heavy rockers, which creates a decent mix of everything that Megadeth have ever done well. This is more than enough to make enough variance in the album, and while it’s obvious that not every track will be critically lauded, each track here more than deserves their place on what could truly be called Megadeth’s comeback album.
Another thing that can be said is that there’s certainly a more mature element to United Abominations
than there was to the bands first releases. There’s grown up themes and real issues present on this album, unlike the subject of Mechanix
, a song off their first album, which talks about a girl that visits a petrol station that really ‘does it’ for Mustaine. Not here, and although there’s a similar kind of theme during Sleepwalker
that talks about a murder while sleepwalking - not the epitome of sophistication, but the approach has a more natural feel to it (sample lyrics include “I think you’d look nice in a Colombian necktie/should stop your tongue from wagging the dog”).
Washington Is Next
is the other all-out thrasher, and it’s definitely the highlight of the album. It’s more about the music here, as the heavy riffs are accentuated by guitarist Glen Drover’s highlighting of several of the chunkier notes. This or Sleepwalker
wouldn’t have sounded out of place on 1990’s Rust In Peace
, and would have matched up against Take No Prisoners
and Tornado of Souls
extraordinarily, such is the quality and style and these two songs. Play For Blood
is in the same vein (with a nice opening solo, which harks back to Looking Down The Cross
from their first album), and slow yet expertly played solos make these songs true representatives of Megadeth’s thrash heritage.
The rest of the album is more of a Countdown To Extinction
-style rocker. Full of controlled angst and lyrical plays on words (just see the album name for one of the best examples). The new version of A Tout Le Monde
is a welcome addition, though it may feel like Megadeth are trying too hard to hark back to their glory days by reviving an older track for a new album. It’s no highlight of the album, but it’s certainly better than revisiting a song like 502
Gears Of War
is fuelled by a calmer, more restrained kind of fire, yet still spits out Mustaine’s anti-government political approach. The title track again reflects Mustaine’s opinions, using echoing guitar effects and simplistic guitar lines to allow the music to move effectively, and also to allow Dave to use his voice as one of his instruments. Even the voiceovers found on some of these songs are bearable, as the songs are strengthened by a tight structure and the band’s belief in the music they’re making. Amerikhastan
features more spoken passages, but then they’re not the focus point of the track - it’s more about the guitars here, as with most of the songs. And Blessed Are The Dead
is heavy, yet more sporadic in its riff quality, as the emphasis is helped on the instruments backing up the vocals as Dave takes centre stage for his singing rather than his instrument playing here.
The album has many flaws that only become apparent by listening(the main part being that much like Machine Head's The Blackening
, it's more about guitars than about hearing bassist James Lomenzo or drummer Shawn Drover, brother of guitarist Glen) ; it’s their return to form, but it’s no masterpiece like Rust In Peace
was. There’s focus here where there used to be immature exuberance, and yet it retains hallmarks of Megadeth’s past, which makes it feel like it’s both a past and future example of how good Megadeth are. Any Megadeth fans will probably have bought this album anyway, but for those who like a decent mix of skilful thrash metal and soulful (in quality, not in style) melodic hard rock should give this a few spins. It’s not the band’s best ever, but its still got ‘quality’ written all over it.
A quality slab of heavy metal, infused with focus and maturity
- Washington Is Next
- United Abominations
- Blessed Are The Dead