It’s been a lengthy absence for Megadeth in the thrash metal scene. Their last effort, 2016’s Dystopia washed the tase of the subpar Super Collider out of people’s mouths. Now, in 2022, we finally have a return to music with The Sick, The Dying… And The Dead! Since 2019, Megadeth has seen some strife internally, Dave Mustaine was diagnosed with throat cancer, and of course, the COVID-19 pandemic didn’t help things.
Throughout the twelve-track run on The Sick, The Dying… And The Dead, you get plenty of musical influences from throughout metal. If Megadeth has done one thing throughout this period of their career, it’s broadened their horizons musically. On tracks like “The Sick, The Dying… And The Dead!” and “Sacrifice” there are some power metal influences, others like “Soldier On” and “We’ll Be Back” are just classic thrashers that should kick the pit into high gear when played live. Sometimes it works, others it doesn’t, but they’re not staying complacent. This new era of the band has also given Dave Mustaine and Co. the most freedom to write what they want to write.
It’s not quite a return to form for Megadeth because that’s what Dystopia was, but The Sick, The Dying… And The Dead is more of that version of Megadeth that has finally broken free of the shackles and is just making the music they want to. What you get with this album is nothing revolutionary when it comes to thrash metal, but it’s an excellent effort by the band this far into their career.
1. The Sick, The Dying… And The Dead!
Starting off on a somber note with a town crier exclaiming “bring out yer dead!” is a good way to start off a Megadeth album. The slow guitar kicks into what sounds more like a power metal song than anything. Once you get into the meat of the track though, it’s a riff fest with some snarling vocals from Dave Mustaine. The thunder gun drums from Dirk Verbeuren drive the song along. It’s all tied up with a shredding outro solo and one last chorus. They started off the album right with this title track.
2. Life In Hell
For those who want a return to classic-sounding Megadeth, “Life In Hell” might be the closest we’re going to get to it. This new era of the band is defined by songs like this. They’re chugging along, it even includes a breakdown in the middle of the track that should play extremely well live. It might go on for a little too long, but this track plain kicks ass. Once you get past that point it’s shredding all the way until the end.
3. Night Stalkers
Megadeth isn’t known for their lengthy songs at this point in their career, so a track coming in at 6:38 is a real surprise. “Night Stalkers” combines a heavy riff with some great drum work from Verbeuren once again. Kiko Loureiro and Mustaine trade guitar licks throughout. It even has a bit in the middle with a voiceover (featuring ICE T) displaying the tactical strike from Black Ops forces. This one is all about the 160th Battalion in the US Army. Once you think this one is over though, it has some classical-sounding acoustic guitar and then hits you with a bass breakdown. It’s a marathon sprint from there until the end of the track and it works so well.
4. Dogs Of Chernobyl
This track was shown off very early on by Dave Mustaine on a live stream, so we knew a bit of what to expect going in. However, it’s a new trend for Megadeth with these two six-plus minute tracks at the beginning of the album. “Dogs Of Chernobyl” might be a more topical song than Megadeth thought when they recorded this album with the Russian invasion of Ukraine, but there are no real connections lyrically besides the location. This is about as close as you’ll get to something that sounds and is written like a Rust In Peace song from Megadeth. Another great marathon sprint finish for this song.
“Sacrifice” sounds like Megadeth might’ve been listening to a little too much Helloween or Running Wild while they were writing because some of those power metal hallmarks slipped into their lyrics. With lyrics about a “Warlock King of Satanic ancestry”, this one makes a hell of a callback to some of the more occult-filled tracks off Peace Sells…But Who’s Buying. Outside of some cool lyrics, this one doesn’t really stand out for me among the pack of other great songs on this album.
Megadeth must’ve loved some voiceovers while they were recording this album because “junkie” features yet another in the middle of the track. This one is all about drug addicts and the issues that cause in regard to families and society. Musically, this one doesn’t have any issues, it’s also got a trademarked Dave Mustaine snarl near the end of the track. Lyrically, though, this one misses the mark a bit.
Clocking in at just 1:20, “Psychopathy” is just really an intro to “Killing Time”. It does a good job of hyping up the next song, and it also gives you the definition of a psychopathy. All in all, a pretty decent little intro.
8. Killing Time
“Killing Time” starts off incredibly strong with a chugging riff and some interesting lyrics snarled by Dave Mustaine. It’s about an This one sounds like it belongs right with some tracks off Cryptic Writings, like “Trust”. Those albums might be maligned by fans, but they have some killer tracks. “Killing Time” slows down the tempo just enough to give you some time to breathe while getting through all of The Sick, The Dying… And The Dead.
9. Soldier On!
“Soldier On!” is the third single released from the album and it’s a doozy. This is the perfect blend of old and new Megadeth with some absolutely blistering solos from Mustaine and Kiko, session bassist Steve Di Giorgio chugs along and keeps the rhythm going along. This might not be the most revolutionary song when it comes to lyrics or content, but this is Megadeth firing on all cylinders, it’s easy to see why they picked this one to represent the album as a single.
Holy hell. I like to judge some songs based on how much the urge to air guitar sets in while listening to them, “Celebutante” passed that test with flying colors. This is one of the best Megadeth riffs they’ve written in years. Just when you think it’s all speed, the song breaks down in the middle and gives the thrashers something to really stomp their feet about. Lyrically, this is all about the influencer generation that thinks they’re overly famous. It’s quite topical for Megadeth and the lyrics help with the absolutely shredding guitars. This is my favorite track on the album.
11. Mission To Mars
“Mission To Mars” is about just that, a space mission to Mars. It’s strange that Megadeth would stretch their lyrical content this much, but it’s a welcome change. They do give us a nod to Rust In Peace in this song, which is absolutely awesome. It might not be exactly what you expect though, it starts off as a cheery happy mission to Mars that very quickly goes wrong. Megadeth doesn’t normally tell stories with their songs like this, but this one is awesome in a Twilight Zone or Creepshow kind of way.
12. We’ll Be Back
This was the first official taste we had of The Sick, The Dying… And The Dead, it’s the first single from the album, and it’s one of the heaviest tracks that Megadeth has put out in recent times. It might have been tempting to put this as the first track on the album because it’s speedy and heavy, but it works so damn well at the back of the album capping it off. Plus a song titled “We’ll Be Back” needs to be at the end of an album as excellent as this. It comes in, kicks ass, and doesn’t overstay its welcome. A new Megadeth classic.
Overall Look At The Sick, The Dying… And The Dead
It’s easy to see the allusions that Megadeth has made to earlier in their career with this album. There’s references to Rust In Peace, more occult imagery used, even the title of the album conjures up So Far, So Good…So What. It’s not a return to form, but a continuation of that form displayed on Dystopia. The Sick, The Dying… And The Dead is an excellent Megadeth album, and a smashing success for a band that has seen so much go wrong in the past couple of years. Dave Mustaine and Co. are at the top of their game with this album.
The only thing I could complain about is that some of the tracks have pretty similar sounding riffs to one another. That’s a minor quibble because the album quite simply kicks ass.
You can grab The Sick, The Dying… And The Dead wherever you get your music on September 2nd, 2022.
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