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.
“Sacrifice” bats off with heavy guitar chugs paired well with alternate sweep picking, and riff raff that it caused. The blazing guitar solo adds on to the amazing improvisation and innovation that went into making the guitar solo, a definite on my repeat list. “Junkie” definitely has some thought provoking lyrics, I loved the shredding on this track and the way the guitar solo swept in and kept the sound harsh and heavy. “Psychopathy” pounces on with heavy drum beats that sustains throughout the breadth of the (short) song. Mustaine wrote “Killing Time” focussing on an ex-girlfriend, but aside from the personal lyrics the song has great guitar shreds, a clean and resonant arpeggio interlude which pulsates to thrashing blast beats and ravaging guitar riffs makes it a sweet listen.
“Soldier On!” is definitely set to get your groove on, and is a song full of surprises, grand riffs, thrashing blast beats, pulverizing guitar shreds and eclectic solos, and truly remarkable and memorable outro. A definite candidate for multiple repeats. “Célebutante” transports you back to the early Megadeth albums, catchy thrash beats and grooves that you could headbang to, something that I always expect in a Megadeth album. The guitar duelling towards the end between Mustaine and Kiko is most refreshing.
At first “Mission To Mars” has a very different vibe from its predecessors, but as the song progresses thus is evident the formulaic that by now sets and offers little or no difference from its predecessors. All now one awaits are the guitar shreds exchanged between Kiko and Dave. The album culminates with “We’ll Be Back” which offers high adrenaline guitar shreds and blazing fast solos one after the other. The guitar grinds and chugs gets you moving, keeps you hooked and leaves you off in splits as it abruptly ends.
Production – The production on this album is great, although I did feel the album being deficient on Bass productions, and felt that Steve’s sound should have been louder.
Conclusion – This album has the energy equivalence of the Countdown to Extinction and Youthanasia, the songs were heavy, and the style sustained. Trust me, I loved Dystopia and had similar aspirations of this album, but somewhere it didn’t awe-struck me as well as its predecessor. Regardless, it’s still a great album, maybe not their best.
Written by: Ankit Sood
Line up :
Dave Mustaine – Lead vocals, lead, rhythm and acoustic guitars
Kiko Loureiro – Lead, rhythm and acoustic guitars and backing vocals
Steve Di Giorgio – Bass guitar
Dirk Verbeuren – Drums
1. The Sick, The Dying… And The Dead!
2. Life In Hell
3. Night Stalkers
4. Dogs Of Chernobyl
8. Killing Time
9. Soldier On!
11. Mission To Mars
12. We’ll Be Back
Release Date: Sept. 2nd. 2022
Record Label: Tradecraft/Universal
Weblinks: Facebook / Website / Twitter
Video for ‘We’ll be back’
Video for ‘Night Stalkers: Chapter II’ ft. Ice-T
Video for ‘The Sick, The Dying… And The Dead’
Video for ‘We’ll be back’
Visualizer video for ‘Soldier On!’