Review Summary: A crisp sound and a vicious agenda, "United Abominations" breathes new life into Megadeth.
Dave Mustaine, as many know, is a rather outspoken fellow. Whether it be about politics, life, or music, Dave’s always got to throw in his 2 cents, even if no one asks for it, but then again, that’s just how he likes it. Ever since forming Megadeth
and releasing “Killing Is My Business…and Business is Good!”, Dave’s been loathed and labeled as an egotistical tyrant. But still, even with that, member after member have come in flocks to play alongside of him and to be able to play under the name of one of the biggest Metal bands to ever emerge.
But with an inconsistent line-up, Megadeth
started putting out inconsistent material, which began to occur right after their “mainstream” hit “Countdown to Extinction”. Over time, things got even worse, with lackluster albums such as “The World Needs a Hero” and “Risk”. Things looked bleak for the future of Dave and his beloved band, and he even contemplated dropping the name and going solo. Then suddenly, (poof!), Dave was a born-again Christian, and out-popped “The System Has Failed”, which brought back some of Megadeth’s
sound. The band, in a sense, had been saved, and “United Abominations” only confirms that.
It’s not hard to get into “United Abominations” right off the bat, especially since the first four songs are complete knock-outs. The opener, “Sleepwalker”, is easily the best material that’s come out of the band in years, as it centers around Dave’s snapping voice, fanatical lyrics (which, at a point, reference the movie “The Godfather” with a line of “Did I buy you a farm, and put a horse head in your bed"!
”) and thrash-injected pounding riffs. The other three, “Washington Is Next!”, “Never Walk Alone…A Call to Arms”, and the title track, all share the same instant likeability as “Sleepwalker”, but focus a bit more on intricate riffing and insightful vocals/lyrics.
The rest of the album, however, is no shrug-off, because if Megadeth
is known for one thing, it’s how to write a riff, and this album is chock-full of good ones. Whether it be the chugging “Gears of War”, the crunch-heavy ( and not to mention phenomenal lead work from Glen) “Burnt Ice”, or the downright tactical guitar assault “Amerikhastan”, Dave and Glen rip this album apart. James (bass) and Shawn (drums) expertly back up Glen and Dave, with James laying down a thick wall of sound (as well as a nice branching intro on “Sleepwalker”) while Shawn gives Bonham’s old kit a good pounding with solid beats and fills (especially on “Burnt Ice” and "Play for Blood"). There are really only two songs that sound alike (“Blessed Are the Dead” and “You’re Dead!”), which is just due to their slower nature. Each solo, just like the riffs, is a spectacle to behold. Listening to them trade off on “Play for Blood” is just stunning, as they seem to never miss a beat. The crown, however, goes to melodic shredder on the title track, as it's played over muttered talking about the U.N.
Dave’s voice, surprisingly, suits the album perfectly. His sarcastic tone is at an all-time high on “Sleepwalker”, as he spits out lines such as “ No more stupidity from you, as I pull your tongue through!
” and “Did I give you concrete shoes, and throw your body off of a bridge"!
” When it’s time to get serious, however, he sounds even more focused, which is evident on the venomous title track, in which he viciously attacks the U.N. with cries of “It’s payback time, at the United Abominations!
”. Not only that, but at the end of a song, Dave fires off line after line of U.N. failures. When “Amerikhastan” comes around, get ready to laugh as it contains one of the funniest lines in Metal history with a battle cry of “Hey Jihad Joe, guess what"! We’re coming to get you!
There are, however, a few quirks. “You’re Dead!”, simply put, is filler in the purest form. It doesn’t pack enough punch as the rest of the songs, and feels like it was just written to fill up space. The same can be said for the remake of “A Tout Le Monde”, which while certainly not a bad song just feels out of place and reeks too much of MTV metal (mostly from the vocals of Cristina Scabbia, which make it feel a bit too “poppy”).
In the end, however, these small mistakes don’t overshadow the achievement that is “United Abominations”. This is, simply put, the best material Megadeth
has put out since “Countdown to Extinction”, as it’s just a great listen throughout. Every song has some sort of listening credibility (minus the filler “You’re Dead!”), especially if you’re lucky enough to have the head-banging remake of Led Zeppelin’s
“Out on the Tiles”, which only makes this album sweeter. Don’t even miss picking this up if you’re fan.
Individual Track Ratings
Sleepwalker - 5/5
Washington Is Next! - 5/5
Never Walk Alone... A Call To Arms 5/5
United Abominations 5/5
Gears of War - 4/5
Blessed Are The Dead - 3.5/5
Play For Blood - 4/5
A Tout Le Monde (Set Me Free) - 2.5/5
Amerikhastan - 5/5
You're Dead - 1.5/5
Burnt Ice - 4/5