Review By The Rock ‘n’ Roll Preacher
One of the most eagerly awaited albums of 2022 is finally upon us, and despite the travails that interrupted its recording, on the whole, it does not disappoint. Of course, during said recording came the Dave Ellefson ‘incident’, which has caused much talk, and led to his abrupt dismissal from the band. For the recording purposes, legendary Death/Testament/Sadus/Autopsy/Iced Earth/Obituary etc bass guitarist Steve Di Giorgio stepped up, but James Lomenzo has since joined to complete the band permanently.
‘The Sick …’ is a very clinical sounding album, and I do not say that in an unkind way – it is surgically precise, and shows the band firing on all four cylinders in perfect unity. The pairing of Mustaine and ex-Angra man Kiko Loureiro has been an inspired choice, the Brazilian wizard is arguably the best guitarist in Megadeth in 30 years, and he shines throughout.
Steve Di Giorgio’s input is (of course) exemplary, his low end, both fluid and brutal at the same time. Drummer Dirk Verbeuren is nothing less than dazzling, I never thought Megadeth could better the legendary Nick Menza, but the Belgian ex-Soilwork man is simply astonishing here, showing both huge power yet conversely a deftness of touch that marks him as a legend in the making.
‘The Sick …’ features two or three genuine surprises musically, the first of which is the appearance of the legendary Sammy Hagar, who both provides some vocals, and even some additional guitar too, as the band chose to cover his ‘This Planet’s On Fire’ as a bonus track. The next surprise is the appearance of legendary rapper and Body Count man Ice-T, who provides guest vocals on the raging ‘Night Stalkers’. The final surprise is a furious cover of the Dead Kennedy’s ‘Police Truck’ which is given the full ‘Deth treatment, and definitely takes the song to the next level musically.
The album is not perfect, at times it falls into ‘safe mode’, and (as ever) Dave Mustaine’s voice is an acquired taste – it’s always been the weak link in the band’s sound, but it is what it is, and you either accept it or don’t – I’ll be honest here, I’ve always struggled with it – but I accept I’m probably in the minority. Had Mr Mustaine got a really great vocalist onboard originally, I have no doubt that Megadeth would have been the biggest of ‘the big four’ bands.
Perhaps the greatest moment found on this album is the colossal ‘Dogs Of Chernobyl’, which for my money is the best thing Mustaine has penned since ‘In My Darkest Hour’, it’s an absolute towering monster of a song, and features everything musically that makes this band so special – Metallica could never write a song this good! My other favourite number is the very wonderful ‘Mission To Mars’, which marries quirky almost melodic rock sensibilities to a starry-eyed’ yearning to experience space exploration – it’s simply a very cool track, and is Megadeth at their finest.
The production on the album is huge, giving the band razor like fury sonically, and is a huge credit to them. So, ‘The Sick, The Dying, & The Dead’ is not perfect, but sixteen albums into their career, and Mustaine and his not so merry men show no signs of slowing down or losing focus. Bring out your ‘Deth indeed!