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MEGADETH - THE SICK, THE DYING... AND THE DEAD! album review

THE SICK, THE DYING… AND THE DEAD! is the sixteenth studio album from Megadeth.

Will Megadeth ever stop doing what they're doing? Formed by ex-Metallica guitarist Dave Mustaine, it’s been a long and interesting ride over nearly four decades. Albums have been radically different in all this time, ranging from raw thrash to the more progressive and experimental. But there have been more hits than missesy, and I seriously doubt headbangers would want it any other way.

Megadeth, of course, has always featured guitarist/vocalist Dave Mustaine, who formed the band following his firing from Metallica. THE SICK, THE DYING… AND THE DEAD! also features lead guitarist Kiko Loueiro and drummer Dirk Verbeuren. Longtime bassist Dave Ellefson recorded bass tracks for the album, but these were rerecorded by Steve Di Giorgio following Ellefson’s firing. Following the recording of the album, James LoMenzo (formerly of White Lion and having previously been a Megadeth member as well) came on as Ellefson’s permanent replacement. Ice T appears as a guest on one track.

THE SICK, THE DYING… AND THE DEAD! is Megadeth’s first album since the release of 2016’s DYSTOPIA. It’s been six years since we got a Megadeth album, not to mention the firing of a key member from the group. It’s been turbulent times in that interlude in more ways than one. Still, this headbanger was optimistic as ever for a new ‘Deth record, getting to hear Mr. Mustaine doing his thing once again.

Despite the title of that record, the Megadeth lineup who recorded it is neither sick nor dying or dead. In fact, it may be the strongest Megadeth album since 2001’s THE WORLD NEEDS A HERO, and that’s no small accomplishment! Mr. Mustaine’s guttural vocals are distinct as ever; the man initially had no desires to sing for the band (early in their formation the band even auditioned many singers but couldn’t find anyone they liked). Yet ironically, that gives their output one of its most distinct elements. Furthermore, the current ‘Deth lineup may be the strongest they’ve had since their original heyday back in the late 80s and early 90s.

Many a band “lightens up” and gets less heavy over the course of time. Mustaine and company quickly let listeners know that certainly isn’t the case with THE SICK, THE DYING… AND THE DEAD! This is one of the most straight-up hard and heavy albums of the band’s career, rarely taking time to catch its breath. The riffs are unmistakably heavy and relentless. Several tracks were released prior to the album for advance listening, and I’m glad to say that they largely speak for the quality of the finished product. “Soldier On!” is easily the strongest cut of the album with its hook-laden anthemic chorus, but the other songs on here are no slouches either. It may be a little too long, but I don’t think headbangers will be too bothered by that.

There are different releases of the album that include two bonus tracks which differ depending on where/how you buy the album. All three versions include a cover of Sammy Hagar’s “This Planet’s on Fire” on which Hagar is a guest. The digital release includes a cover of “Police Truck, the Dead Kennedys classic. An exclusive CD at Target features a live version of “The Conjuring,” while an EMP exclusive CD instead features a live version of “Take No Prisoners.”

THE SICK, THE DYING… AND THE DEAD! isn’t Megadeth’s strongest album, but I think I can safely call it the hardest and heaviest in two decades, well worth the several year wait. You won’t be disappointed with what you hear here if you want to bang your head. Mr. Mustaine is alive and well, and still in fine form, doing what he does best. Highly recommended!

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