There has been a lot of drama and controversy throughout Megadeth’s career, but the past few years has seen even more upheaval than usual. Frontman Dave Mustaine battled throat cancer, and bassist David Ellefson was booted from the band due to a sex scandal. Steve DiGiorgio (Testament) stepped in to record The Sick, The Dying… And The Dead! while former member James LoMenzo has returned as a permanent member.
There are no big surprises on the album, which has a dozen well crafted and expertly delivered thrash songs. Megadeth can still deliver lightning fast old school bangers like “Celebutante” and “Night Stalkers” that features the legendary Ice-T. They are also skilled at more moderately paced but no less fierce tracks like “Dogs Of Chernobyl.”
This is the second Megadeth album for guitarist Kiko Loureiro, whose musical interplay with Mustaine is even tighter than on Dystopia. It’s the first studio album for drummer Dirk Verbeuren (Soilwork, Devin Townsend Project) even though he’s been in the band for about six years now. He has a stellar resume, and his performance is excellent, as you would expect.
At the age of 60, Mustaine still has plenty of vitriol and anger at the ready. Whether he’s addressing political or personal topics you always know exactly where he stands.
This album finds Megadeth balancing some influences of their early albums with a more modern approach. There are glimpses of various eras of their discography (including a clever Rust In Peace reference in a spoken word section of “Mission To Mars”), but they manage to keep the momentum moving forward, avoiding nostalgia.
The 55 minute album is a bit long, losing some momentum in the middle, and a song or two could easily have been trimmed. But the length certainly doesn’t overly dilute the quality of the material.
16 albums in, Megadeth still manage to sound invigorated, thanks in part to the infusion of new blood. The Sick, The Dying… And The Dead! should please the band’s fan base, especially the title of closer “We’ll Be Back,” signaling that there’s more to come.
(released September 2, 2022 on UMe)
Heavy Music HQ Rating:
Watch Megadeth – “Night Stalkers” Video