The Sick, the Dying... and the Dead!

I reviewed Megadeth’s last album, Dystopia on here, when it was first released. Chris Adler, was still playing drums for Lamb of God and his drum work on Dystopia definitely increased their speed and that’s a great album. Since Dystopia, Dave Mustaine went through more lineup shifts. Longtime bassist David Ellefson was fired for getting caught with his pants down (whoops..could not resist) and enter in Steve DiGiorgio (Testament, Sadus, Autopsy) to play session bass on The Sick, the Dying… and the Dead! and he does a killer job.

On drums, after Dystopia was released, Dirk Verbeuren joined Megadeth and Dirk is an extreme metal drummer. I just reviewed his latest project – Kill DivisionPeace Through Tyranny on here and if you want monstrous grindcore get that album now. I read something last year about Dirk wanting to do some blast beats on the new Megadeth album and Mustaine mulling it over and then eventually saying he did allow Dirk a little blasting. Since the release of the album Megadeth have welcomed back previous bassist, James LoMenzo to the fold. Kiko Loureiro returns and his guitar shredding, alongside Dave, is great.

All the Megadeth signature sounds and beats are here and on full display, but more so. Dirk’s extensive underground metal drumming has definitely made this 16th album the fastest Megadeth album since their debut 1985 album Killing Is My Business… and Business Is Good! and this is their best album since their finest release, from 1990, Rust in Peace.

This is 12 songs in 55 minutes and then there are various special editions of this album with extra songs, which I will get to later on. This album opens with the title track, which has a Countdown to Extinction vibe, sound wise. The song is actually one of the mellower songs on the album. Expecting Megadeth to jump out the gates with a speedy number, this song remains pretty much mid-pace and is melodic and catchy…but then the band rips into the speedier and thrashy moments, which are terrific. The end part of the song, with Dirk throwing in the monster double bass over the fast part,——-when was the last time Megadeth sounded that vicious—JFC!!! “Life in Hell” is up next and is pure thrash metal. Megadeth truly sounding their fastest since their debut album, even faster. Dave’s menacing vocal snarl is devilish. Excellent drum rolls and guitar solos and killer snare solo early on in the song.

“Night Stalkers” is up next and is the longest song at over six and a half minutes. DiGiorgio’s monster fretless bass guitar sound boosts this speedy song in the rhythm section. This song is fast!! Guest vocals from Ice-T give this track attitude. The guitar solos over the 3.50 section are killer as the song is in the fast zone and the atmospheric slow down a minute later allows us to catch our breath until the monstrous isolated bass guitar comes in, then the rest of the instruments, as the song gets back into the thrash metal. Seriously, this must be in their live set. This song is so killer.

“Dogs of Chernobyl” could have been on Peace Sells… But Who’s Buying? Another monster song. “Soldier On!” is the first song to feature blast beats-something new on a Megadeth album. The first noticeable part on this song is it has a Meshuggah vibe. Poly-rhythms with the jumpiness and almost djent quality to this song makes this groovy song one of the best and more complicated Megadeth songs in some time. The first blast beat happens when the chorus starts at the 46-second mark and Dirk throws in a little ditty of a blast at the 1.05 section and it rules. This section repeats multiple times, with the blast beat, and this truly is a milestone for the band. It’s things like this that get me hyped.

“We’ll Be Back” ends the regular edition of the album and it’s a heavy thrashing song. One of the very best and catchiest Megadeth songs in decades and this is the second song with blast beats. Solos are all over the place on this song and the fast guitar riffing is razor sharp and shows Dave Mustaine has no intention of slowing down. For chrissakes, he’s released the fastest Megadeth album in over 3 freaking decades. The vocals and rhythms on this track are insane and Dirk’s drumming just destroys. As the song is winding down, with the groove at the end with only a few seconds left, Dirk slides in a quick little ditty of a blast and then the song ends. Vicious.

The other songs are great with many speed metal and thrashy moments with exceptional songwriting. There are a total of three bonus songs depending on which bonus edition you picked up. The Target bonus edition has an error as it lists one of the bonus live songs as “Dystopia”, when it’s actually “The Conjuring”. Sound quality is great and then there is “This Planet’s On Fire (Burn in Hell)” (Sammy Hagar cover) which actually has Sammy doing vocals on this. It’s a super fun song and keeps to the original, just heavier, of course. “Police Truck” (Dead Kennedys cover) is a great song for Megadeth to cover. Classic song and hearing Dave get all venomous with cursing is funny.

The production on The Sick, the Dying… and the Dead! is great. Crisp, heavy and all the instruments sound freaking insane. The bass guitar is thumping and the drum sound is pummeling. Those are the standouts, for me. Songwriting is super strong and catchy. With no disrespect to past Megadeth drummers, Dirk, is the finest drummer to be featured on a Megadeth album. His addition and Dave not resting on his laurels have helped create the most extreme Megadeth album in ages. If you liked Dystopia and enjoyed more of the speed metal moments, that record had to offer, then you will love this, as The Sick, the Dying… and the Dead! offers up more speed and more thrash. The Target cd edition also features an expanded booklet and lenticular 3D album cover insert. Megadeth is back baby and this album is terrific. An easy top 10 for me for 2022.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Frank Rini
September 19th, 2022


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