The Sick, the Dying… and the Dead! is the sixteenth studio album by American thrash metal band Megadeth, released on September 2, 2022, on frontman Dave Mustaine’s Tradecraft label via Universal. It is the first Megadeth album to feature drummer Dirk Verbeuren, the second Megadeth album to feature guitarist Kiko Loureiro, and their first studio album in six years since Dystopia (2016), marking the longest gap between two studio albums in the band’s career. The album has been in production for more than two years.
In June 2019, the band announced the cancellation of then-upcoming shows, as Mustaine had been diagnosed with throat cancer; Despite Mustaine’s illness, the band vowed to continue working on the album. The band re-entered the studio in mid-2020 to resume recording their new album, by now tentatively planned for release in 2021. Founding bassist David Ellefson bass parts were re-recorded by Testament bassist Steve Di Giorgio.
The album opens with the title track “The Sick, The Dying… And The Dead!” which starts off eerie and takes on full power with a chunky guitar riff that is accentuated by flaring guitar tid-bits, has its fair share of surprises that Mustaine drops during the interlude before catching back to where the song gets left. An eclectic guitar solo follows the finishing of the song in style. What a great start to the album. Next up things get heavy with “Life In Hell”, which is as traditional as Megadeth gets. The tempo is on the uptick and the sustained chords are rugged, the vocal delivery changes as it brings forth more engagement with the listener, and the rampant drum rolls finish the song tight.
The intro for “Night Stalkers” sets off a haunting dystopian apocalyptic ambience which is brought forward, multiplied with maddening guitar riffs and thus sets off the heaviest song of the album, with rapper Ice-T collaborating on the song which is about the 160th Battalion with the U.S. Army, and it’s all the black-ops helicopters that go in at night. The acoustic guitar interlude followed by rumbling bass brings in character and brings about punching guitar riffs as the song approaches its end. According to Mustaine, “Dogs of Chernobyl” is not about the war in Ukraine, but “is a love song”. Prior to the album’s production, Mustaine had been diagnosed with throat cancer. He revealed that his treating radiologist contributed “a couple of phrases and some information about the radiation poisoning when everyone got sick at Chernobyl” to the song’s lyrics. The song is packed with high energy, blast beats paired with guitar chugs, blitzing guitar solos, power lyrics and an ambiance set over Ukrainian voice overs.
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