The Sick, The Dying… And The Dead!


Tradecraft / Universal, 2022

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


Dave Mustaine and the revolving cast of musicians that make up Megadeth may not want to admit it, but for the past 30-plus years, they have been chasing after an album that remains the definitive statement from the thrash metal band: Rust In Peace. Even when Mustaine took the music into a more commercial sound for a while, every album that Megadeth has recorded since then has taken aim at the apex of their career, and tried to top it… and each time, they have not succeeded.

Since their last studio effort Dystopia six years ago, Mustaine has been through hell. He’s survived a battle with throat cancer. He’s had to deal with the dismissal of long-time bassist David Ellefson in 2021, which resulted in all the bass tracks that had been recorded for this album being erased. But, through all of this, Mustaine and Megadeth survived and thrived… and the end result is The Sick, The Dying… And The Dead!. It is brutal, angry and, at the right times, melodic… and it comes the closest Megadeth ever has to toppling Rust In Peace from the top of the mountain.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

With the cries of “bring out your dead” opening the title track and the album, Mustaine and crew quickly establish that they were going to take no prisoners. At this stage in their career, Megadeth have absolutely nothing left to prove to naysayers, and can enjoy making music for their own pleasure (as well as the listener’s). It is that attitude that, in the end, frees Megadeth up to open a musical can of whoop-ass, and fortunately for us, they invested in the large “family size” can.

Through the first third of the album, Megadeth can do absolutely no wrong. From the masterful use of Ice-T as a guest vocalist on “Night Stalkers,” complete with a false end or two, to the complete ass-kicking that “Life In Hell” and “Sacrifice” deliver, Megadeth prove they’re firing on all cylinders. As for Mustaine’s voice? Part of me feels it’s been getting a little grittier over the years, and its current sound may or not be related to his cancer battle, but he’s lost little of the power he’s had over the course of his career.

It’s in the middle section of The Sick, The Dying… And The Dead! that things take a slight left turn, starting with the track “Junkie” and its fairly strange opening. It almost feels like some of Megadeth’s equilibrium is lost for a few songs; tracks like “Psycopathy,” “Killing Time” and “Celebutante” don’t pack nearly the same punch that the earlier songs on the album do.

Fortunately, Mustaine and crew recover enough to make the closing tracks count. “Mission To Mars” and “We’ll Be Back” are solid efforts, proving the early successes on the album were no fluke. If you invested in the digital edition of this album, the two bonus tracks continue that success, with a cover of the Dead Kennedys’s “Police Truck” and Sammy Hagar’s “This Planet’s On Fire,” the latter featuring vocals from Hagar himself. It’s this last track that demonstrates just how much Megadeth has grown and matured as a band; the interaction between Mustaine and Hagar feels and sounds natural, and while I’m glad this wasn’t a disc comprised of duets and guest appearances, I wouldn’t have minded hearing more work pairing Mustaine and Hagar.

The Sick, The Dying… And The Dead! is the strongest album that Megadeth has put out in some time, and deserves a place of honor on one’s music shelves. Is it perfect? No… but it’s pretty close.

Rating: B+

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



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