Megadeth - The Sick, the Dying… and the Dead! (2022)Release ID: 39528
If you hold any hope for thrash metal in 2022 then stay away from The Sick, The Dying …and The Dead. Do not take the time to listen to its half-hearted, lazily written and largely flat compositions. Pay no attention to Dave Mustaine’s lacklustre vocal delivery (seriously – I know the guy has been ill and is getting on, but the vocals here are not good, it comes to something when the best performance he puts in is on the bonus track cover of a Dead Kennedy’s song). Dedicate no effort to listen to a band that wrote proficient music such as Hangar 18 at one time but now can barely string together any level of technical prowess beyond the occasional half decent solo.
Even during their less thrashy releases such as Youthanasia they still managed to breed an energy level that took their heavy metal musings to a reasonable level of intensity to be entertaining. In returning to their thrash roots in recent years at least, Megadeth had managed to bring some of that catchiness and memorability with them. However, on album number sixteen they somehow manage to lose both catchiness and ability in absolute droves. Structures all seem to morph into messy and directionless efforts at speed metal having started every now and again with the hope of some true thrashing fury that dissipates as the band try unsuccessfully to express the range of their skills.
Look, Mustaine and Loureiro can play – we know that. However, all the widdly wankery in the world will not save this album and boy do they try. DiGiorgio might as well not be here, as with most Megadeth releases, I can barely hear the bass anyways. Verbeuren just seems to quietly sit in the corner tapping his way through the album, not making any real splash in the pool barring an occasional burst on the skins. On the extended (pain) version I had the misfortune of sitting through there is a terrible cover of a Sammy Hagar song (fucking Sammy Hagar??) that features Sammy Hagar for some reason. And this is what Megadeth have become after nearly forty years of existence? Gone are the reputable sneers at society, politics, and culture. Replaced instead by laughable cabaret turns from special guest “star” performers who should have long since given up the ghost (although the inclusion of Ice T on a track adds a little bit of credibility to an otherwise reputational disaster of a record).
Dystopia was not perfect by any means, but after Super Collider and Thirteen it offered hope for the Megadeth machine in the sense that it had a fair old selection of decent chops and felt like it was put together with some meaning. By comparison TSTDaTD is a giant step backwards that fails to capture the vitality of its predecessor let alone capitalise on it.
Dave Mustaine is one of the most overrated artists/composers in all of heavy metal.
There. I said it. And god does it feel good! This is a man who was so salty about getting kicked out of Metallica that he went and started an anti-Metallica band whose 1980s albums lacked artistic focus and direction that Metallica were able to reproduce in spades throughout their golden run. And yet, Megadeth almost always gets a free pass while a bunch of revisionists will say "Metallica was always bad". Megadeth helped develop the environment in thrash metal where bands don't need to evolve or grow, and can reproduce Rust In Peace ad nauseum for their entire careers and elitists will eat that shit up.
Like Metallica, the 1990s saw Megadeth commercialize to mix results. Unlike Metallica, when their attempts at commercialization alienated longtime fans (or just failing miserably with Risk), they reverted back to an old sound as evidence that Mustaine and company didn't actually care about the music they were making. They basically paved the way for Slayer in the later portion of the 2000s and my complicated relationship with them.
And so, it should be no surprise that The Sick, the Dying... and the Dead! is exactly what you should expect. It's just more Megadeth; you've heard these riffs before possibly hundreds of times. The callbacks to Rust In Peace, Countdown to Extinction and Peace Sells... But Whose Buying? are blatant and have been done to death by Megadeth over the last five records and leaves me with nothing to say. The last Megadeth album that was worth giving a damn about was United Abominations for making a hybrid of the classic 1980s sound with influence from the bands best album, Youthanasia. If you enjoyed Dystopia, well you're in luck because this record is the exact same thing.
Best Songs: Sacrifice, Soldier On!