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United Abominations, an album that could have never existed, if Dave decided against bringing the band back together, is Megadeth's first Roadrunner release, as well as their first with the new semi-stable lineup. Before I get started, I should say that I'm gonna be looking at the bonus tracks as well as the official album. In fact, the bonus tracks could probably have been better suited as actual songs on this album, but I'll get to that later.
Anyway, United Abominations is a bit of a departure from its preceding album, The System Has Failed, in a number of ways. First, the production. This album is exceptionally clean, but despite being able to hear all instruments individually, it feels a little flat. Be it the loudness war or just compression, the album, (or at least the parts with distorted guitars,) doesn't really change in volume that much. I guess you could say it's not very dynamic. Second, we have a stable lineup, besides Glen Drover, who didn't come back for Endgame. I actually really enjoy his performance on this album, he proves himself more than worthy of being Megadeth's guitarist. Third, this album is rife with political dialogue. I know, who could have guessed that from the title? What's a little weird is that TSHF had a political title, but didn't exactly dive too deeply into the subject. But that's not the focus of this review. What about the music, maaaan?
Let's talk awful first. 3 songs on this album are not good, and 2 of those 3 don't deserve to be on this album. First let me address the lyrical travesty known as Amerikhastan. It's awful in almost every way a political Megadeth song can be. Despite having a somewhat good instrumental arrangement, this one is devoid of good lyrics. What the hell was Dave smoking when he thought of this one? Not the chemicals that the frogs gay, but the guy famous for such nonsense, you guessed it, Alex Jones. This is not so much a Megadeth song as it is an Alex Jones song. It's paranoid, it's xenophobic, but most importantly, it's borderline unlistenable schlock that doesn't deserve a spot on this album. To a lesser extent, United Abominations, the song, suffers from this too. The difference being how severe the lyrics are. While the lyrics are bad, they're not crazy or racist enough to warrant deletion. In fact, it's a little bit catchy, with the repetition of “There was no UN”, you're nearly sucked into the right wing bullshit. And similarly, I'd say the song is nearly good. The third bad song is A Tout Le Monde. Don't remake songs, it's never a good idea. Not even Christina Scabbia from Lacuna Coil could save this rerecording. It's bad, and just didn't need to exist. From what I've heard, the label forced this one onto the album. Bad move.
Now how about some good stuff? The solos are tight which is expected from Megadeth. When haven't they been? Glen Drover really proves himself worthy of being a Megadeth guitarist on this album. Even though he wouldn't be joining us for the next release, he shouldn't be overlooked as some nobody who got lucky. The thrash is not exactly prevalent on this album. It's here and there, but for the most part, United Abominations keeps it mid-paced. Not so bad, seeing as Youthanasia was a great album and the thrash was entirely absent. The bonus tracks should have been included as actual tracks. Black Swan, the iTunes track, should have taken Amerikhastan’s spot, seeing as it's so much more digestible and good. Out On The Tiles, the Japanese bonus track, should have taken A Tout Le Monde’s spot. For one, it's still a cover, and for two, it's something new. It's not a worse version of a Megadeth classic, which makes it a better pick for inclusion.
All in all, this album didn't surprise anyone. I think nobody expected a high speed thrasher, but I think we also didn't expect this degree of political lyricism. In total, this album deserves an 80%. I still like this album because it was one of my first exposures to Megadeth. It's not amazing, but it's not all bad either. It doesn't take many risks, but it doesn't really play it safe either. It is very, very middle of the road. Despite many cringeworthy lyrics, the instrumentation remains fairly consistent. It's definitely better than The World Needs a Hero, and, at times, even outpaces The System Has Failed. Overall, very enjoyable, and shouldn't be overlooked despite its fairly apparent flaws.
After the '04 release of The System Has Failed Dave Mustaine assembled a brand new lineup for United Abominations. This consisted of guitarist Glen Drover and on percussion Glen's brother Shawn, both of which were in a Canadian band called Eidolon; a band I'm not familiar with. Then there was the addition of bass player James LoMenzo; again I'm not familiar with LoMenzo's history either, but in one respect not having any knowledge about these musicians did have its merits because I had no preconceptions.
Megadeth's one album with this lineup had been described by some fans as their "best" since the release of Rust in Peace and even though it's a very accomplished album, being voted the best metal album of 2007 by reader's of Guitar World, it still pales in comparison to that landmark of thrash metal or their earlier masterpiece Peace Sells, but arguably it's their best album since '94s Youthanasia. This release was certainly pushing more towards their '80s thrash metal days but it also adds elements from their early '90s thrash/speed metal cross over period. It's an album which is generally more aggressive and cohesive than the previous album, and it makes rubbish like Risk, which was a stylistic mistake, a more distant memory. This album along with the previous release clearly affirms Mustaine understood that his musical direction during the late '90s was misguided. It was an experimental path that didn't work and here he retreats back to familiar ground. It's as if Mustaine finally woke up and rhetorically exclaimed "what the fuck possessed me to go along with Risk?"
This album shifts nicely between moderate thrashers such as "Sleepwalker" and "Washington is Next" to heavy crunching mid-tempo tracks such as "Gears of War" and "Play For Blood." The opening track is the aforementioned "Sleepwalker" and much like "Blackmail the Universe," which was the first track from the previous album, has great energy, good rhythm and solos that enhance it. The song also has a good acoustic guitar introduction that is reminiscent of the opening part to "Good Mourning/Black Friday" from the classic Peace Sells album. At this point in Mustaine's career his vocal range had deteriorated, not having that high pitch anymore, but they are reasonably solid. Even though Mustaine's vocals no longer had the same snarl this song has the atmosphere and precision that is reminiscent of them during their classic era, and finally after more than a decade Mustaine recovered some of that angry enthusiasm he once had.
As I've already mentioned this album is more cohesive than it's predecessor but it also has more focus and a lot more anger, some of which is directed at the U.S. govt. and the United Nations. These lyrical attacks can be heard on the second track "Washington is Next" and on tracks such as "United Abominations" and "Amerikhastan." The second track continues with a fast tempo while the third track "Never Walk Alone...A Call To Arms" has a mid-paced tempo and like the albums opener it has an updated idea from past material. This time the main riffing pattern is phrased in the same way as the opening riff from "Vortex" which is on the Cryptic Writings album. Also at the end of the first figure from "Washington is Next," just before the first verse, there's a similar riff to Iron Maiden's "Wasted Years." The recycling of riffs, even if unintentional, is certainly not a negative because Mustaine has evolved the original concept. I mentioned that this album was their most accomplished since Youthanasia but I’m not enthusiastic about the re-recording of that albums "A Tout Le Monde." The original song is one of Mustaine's most accomplished with its excellent writing and musical composition to match. This version enlists the services of Christina Scabbia on vocals and her performance is good although it doesn't enhance the song so this reprise was unnecessary. There is however a better bonus track called "Black Swan" on the Japanese release and this could have been added instead.
The title track slows the pace of the album and delivers Mustaine's political rhetoric which attempts to destroy the concept of the United Nations. The other politicized track "Amerikhastan" appears in the last third of the album and this song deals with religious extremism. Many fans and commentators alike have noted the controversial political rhetoric found on these two songs and opinions haven't always been positive. Amazingly enough someone actually felt compelled to disprove Mustaine's rhetoric on a United Nations affairs blog. Both of these are delivered in the spoken word style and I'll briefly mention the song "Amerikhastan" which is the more cohesive of the two. Mustaine's view is interesting; he vilifies the U.S. govt. for having the front to call the Iraqi conflict a legitimate war and claims that the American people having become so hateful were ignorant enough to agree with any of their leaders foreign policies. The track title thus implies that American citizens are developing exactly the same attitudes as the enemy their govt. are fighting against. The concept has some merit but just one spoken word track would have been sufficient; having two is excessive.
Mustaine is in excellent technical form and guitarist Glen Drover is especially good delivering an equal share of guitar duties with some really good solos. Both Mustaine and Drover's fret work actually enhances a couple of the songs that would otherwise be a little underwhelming. It's a very guitar based project full of riffs and leads jumping in and out at any given moment. For example "Burnt Ice" is almost entirely based around solos but without them taking precedence over the rhythm or vocals and this makes it a great listen; a good one for the Guitar Hero generation. This excellent lead work is heard throughout and is especially notable on later songs such as "You're Dead" and the albums finale "Burnt Ice." The last two tracks mentioned have some excellent guitar solo trade-offs in their outro so the album is nicely balanced ending very strongly and these are my personal favourites. This fiery musicianship with it's technical precision is the trademark of '80s Megadeth which meant that in '07 Mustaine was really taking a step back in the right direction. In retrospect this was a false dawn due to the fact that the follow up Endgame, along with the next two albums, Thirteen and Super Collider, were mediocre and dreadful respectively.
Just to summarize; this was never going to be a classic lineup, nor is it a complete return to the glory days of Rust in Peace. Not every track is outstanding and some of the lyrics are questionable i.e. "Iran funds Hamas, and attacked the U.S. in the seventies" from the title track but for the most part the writing is good with subjects which range from war, politics, revenge, addiction and death. Megadeth's "precision guided" musicianship has always been superior to their song writing skills and this album is no exception. Both Mustaine and Glen Drover's performances are outstanding and credit must also go to both LoMenzo and Shawn Drover. Overall, a good album with some stand out moments. On a final note; I don't like the cover artwork where it depicts the bands mascot Vic Rattlehead, who is now covered in skin, at the home of the United Nations. I think that the original Vic design is preferable and Ed Repka's depiction of the United Nations facility is much more apocalyptic. This album cover is too comical and a revamp of Repka's design would have been a great retro idea, but I'm not marking this album based on the artwork.
As I have explained in my reviews of Endgame and Dystopia, Megadeth is a bit of a “roller coaster” band. The band kicked off their career with a series of six albums during the 80’s and early 90’s that ranged from very good to amazing. The mid 90’s to early 2000’s saw a dip in quality and creativity, before roaring back strong in the mid to late 2000’s, then taking yet another dip in the two albums prior to the massive comeback of Dystopia. The System Has Failed was largely a step in the right direction after the disappointing late 90’s-early 2000’s albums, but 2004’s United Abominations is the album that truly got Dave Mustaine and the gang back on track.
The sound on United Abominations is very polished, so even the faster songs don’t sound all that “thrashy”. That doesn’t hurt the album in any way, though, as the melodies are infectious and sound is still rather heavy. If anything, United Abominations is more of a 21st century answer to Countdown to Extinction. There are still some faster, more aggressive songs such as album opener Sleepwalker (which takes a fast riffing mid-paced melody approach), You’re Dead, and Burnt Ice. The fast-paced Washington is Next! (arguably the best song on the album) and the slower-paced title track are the songs that will really stick out and the listener will most likely find themselves singing the choruses days after hearing them. Gears of War and Blessed are the Dead are strong mid-pace powerhouses, although both seem to stop short of a third verse and chorus in favor of a solo section. However, this serves to show off the impressive chemistry between Dave Mustaine and Glenn Drover, a strong guitar duo in their own right before the arrival of Chris Broderick. This album also has some of Dave’s finest lyrics, largely politically-charged yet still sarcastic and humorous at times (Amerikhastan being a prime example). Dave’s songwriting has always been at its best when he sings about something he’s passionate about, and we all know how passionate he is about politics, war, corruption, etc.
While Play for Blood is rather unremarkable, the remake of A Tout le Monde is the only song that really did not need to be on this album. If anything, THIS should have been the bonus track rather than Black Swan (although that song would become one of the highlights of the eventual Th1rt3en album). Cristina Scabbia is a fine singer, but she does not add anything truly meaningful to this version and applying a more polished production value to a song that sounded good on the slightly more gritty Youthanasia further takes away from it. Stick with the Youthanasia version.
While the middle is a bit hit-or-miss, a strong opening and a solid finish make United Abominations not only one of Megadeth’s most underrated albums, but also one of their best. Fans of Countdown to Extinction and Youthanasia will find plenty to love, and even the more diehard thrash fans will enjoy Burnt Ice, You’re Dead, and Sleepwalker. The band would continue this momentum with the excellent and slightly more thrash-oriented Endgame two years later. Still, United Abominations is the album Megadeth needed to prove they were still among the kings of heavy metal.
Given that 2004’s "The System Has Failed" was originally intended to be a solo album by guitarist/vocalist Dave Mustaine, it could be argued that this release is the first real Megadeth album since "The World Needs a Hero" was released in 2001. It is the first album to feature drummer Shawn Drover and bassist James Lomenzo and it’s the only album to feature guitarist Glen Drover. It may also be the angriest album that the band has released since "Countdown to Extinction" and is easily the band’s most political to date.
Musically, the album combines the intensity of "Rust in Peace" with the accessible nature of "CTE" and "Cryptic Writings." The songs themselves range from violent thrashers ("Sleepwalker," "Washington is Next!"), mid-tempo crushers ("Play For Blood," "You’re Dead"), and a few songs that really come out of nowhere ("Amerikhastan"). The new line-up also manages to come together strongly in comparison to the band’s better known teams. Every song is packed with strong guitar riffs, solid rhythms, and vocals that range from sarcastic to desperate.
The guys in Megadeth are certainly no strangers to politics but this album may possess some of the band’s most intense lyrics to date. Frustrations with the American government can be found within the words of "Washington is Next!," "Amerikhastan" seems to poke fun at the War on Terror, and the title track provides several angry rants aimed towards the United Nations. For the most part, they’re pretty well thought out but many lines sound somewhat awkward in their delivery (“Hey, Jihad Joe? Guess what? We're coming to get you!”). A few other themes present in the album’s lyrics include revenge ("Sleepwalker," "You’re Dead"), drug abuse ("Burnt Ice"), war and its after effects ("Gears Of War," "Blessed are the Dead"), and a few more personal affairs along the way ("Never Walk Alone... A Call to Arms," "A Tout le Monde").
Ultimately, the album’s main flaw seems to be that some songs feel rather recycled or just don’t seem to connect with one another at times. "Never Walk Alone" features an opening riff that sounds like it was taken straight from "Vortex," the guitar/bass trade-offs on "Blessed are the Dead" sound eerily similar to those found on AC/DC’s "Next to the Moon," and "Burnt Ice" seems to replicate the twin guitar trade-offs on "Hangar 18" with a lesser degree of success (Not to mention a possible reference to Sabbath's "Sweet Leaf" with the coughs in the beginning...). Not to mention a few songs such as "Amerikhastan" and "You’re Dead" seem to be hastily constructed when compared to their more successful counterparts.
I’m also divided when it comes to the re-recording to "A Tout le Monde." As a fan of the original song on "Youthanasia," I can safely say that this version is pretty decent and the guest vocals by Lacuna Coil singer Cristina Scabbia are beautifully done. However, it seems to be rather processed in comparison to the original and feels like an unnecessary addition that could’ve been filled in by their cover of Led Zeppelin’s "Out on the Tiles" or "Black Swan." I just think that it would’ve been better as some kind of bonus track rather than one of the album’s actual songs. Kinda like what Metal Church with their recent re-recording of "Watch the Children Pray" the year before...
There are a few inconsistent songs but this is still worth checking out for Megadeth die-hards.
1) The new line-up sounds great together
2) Great song variety
3) The lyrics have their intriguing moments
1) Some songs are either unoriginal or feel hastily constructed
2) The lyrics can be somewhat goofy at times
3) Was the "A Tout le Monde" remake really that necessary?
My Current Favorites:
"Sleepwalker," "Washington is Next!," "United Abominations," "Gears of War," and "Blessed Are the Dead"
There, I’ve said it. United Abominations is almost as good as Rust In Peace. I’m not saying that the two albums are similar and that United Abominations is Rust In Peace II. I’m simply saying that United Abominations kicks just as much ass as Rust In Peace does. The title of this review won’t exactly endear me to the majority of metalheads, but I have my reasons. I’ve lived with this album for well over a year, I got it the day it was available in Pakistan, and it was also the first Megadeth album I had the pleasure of hearing. I bought Rust In Peace on the same day as well, and I became addicted to both the albums – at times I found it hard to decide which album I liked more. Before I bought this album, I had a faint idea of what Megadeth sounded like. I had already heard Peace Sells on GTA: Vice City. I borrowed The System Has Failed from a friend and listened to a couple of songs. But United Abominations just blew me away. Rust In Peace did too - it was my introduction to thrash metal – but United Abominations introduced me to the harsher side of heavy metal. Had I listened to Rust In Peace BEFORE United Abominations, I’m pretty damn sure I wouldn’t have liked it as much.
But enough with the nostalgia. What makes this album so great in my eyes, other than the fact that it helped me get out of my Iron Maiden and Judas Priest phase? I couldn’t pin-point it before because I didn’t know a lot about metal. I feel that now I’m able to make a valid judgment, even though it might be biased. But hey, there’s no such thing as an unbiased opinion.
The thing that caught my attention the first time I listened to it was the pure aggression displayed in this album, both from the vocals and the musicianship. Honestly speaking, I haven’t the faintest idea why some of the reviewers here on the Encyclopaedia Metallum think that the album is devoid of any energy whatsoever. If they can’t notice the venom in Mustaine’s voice when he sings “No one is safe/When I close my eyes/I come take your life” then they have no right to review this album. Mustaine is able to make three lines of laughable lyrics and turn them upside down with his hate filled vocals. When the vocal performance is compared to Megadeth’s 80’s work, it is definitely superior. The sad thing about Megadeth in the 90’s was that while Mustaine’s vocals continued to improve, the quality of their music began to decline. I am 100% sure that UA features Mustaine’s best ever vocal performance, and top top it off, the music is every bit as good as it once was.
Mustaine’s vocals aren’t the only thing in this album that is filled with energy. Mustaine’s riffs are excellent and show a lot of variation. From the groovy riffs of Play For Blood and Gears of War to the speed metal assault of Washington Is Next, none of the riffs in this album are second rate. Every single one is made of 24-carat gold, with my personal favorite being the main riff of Sleepwalker. Mustaine also does some great solos, but Glenn Drover’s work tops Dave’s work at times. Burnt Ice is full of great solos – 10 of them, in fact! The solos contrast with the lead work at times, but also blend in perfectly. A unique combination.
The drum work is solid. Shawn Drover isn’t a reincarnation of Gar Samuelson, but he doesn’t need to be. He has his own style, and he manages to keep the drum work from getting stale and boring. His drum lines blend in with the Mustaine’s and Glenn Drover’s guitar work perfectly. Shawn has to be appreciated for making his drum work stand out while not taking any attention away from the riffs.
I don’t have much to say about the bass except that it too is solid. It isn’t nearly as audible as when it was in Peace Sells or Killing In My Business, which really is a pity. LoMenzo isn’t the best bassist in the world but he manages to provide the glue between the guitars and the drums.
Mustaine has received a lot of criticism for his lyrics in this album. One of the people who reviewed this album stated that it shouldn’t be a problem since Mustaine’s vocals have always been slightly juvenile. The lyrics, like everything else, show variety as well. You have songs about Mustaine being pissed off at people (Sleepwalker, You’re Dead), you have pseudo-political songs (Washington Is Next, United Abominations, Amerikhastan, Gears of War), songs about relationships (A Tout Le Monde, Never Walk Alone). The remaining songs Play For Blood, Blessed Are The Dead and Burnt Ice are about online gaming, religion and drugs respectively.
So, what about the actual music? I’ve delved into the parts that make the music what it is but I haven’t really said anything about the music itself. Well, the music is the same as its parts. It’s varied, and it never gets boring. The first three tracks are all pounding heavy metal songs which at times tend to lean towards thrash and speed. The next five are more mid tempo and groove oriented, but still manage to kick ass. The final three songs are a bit more experimental and are filled with great solos.
Overall, it’s a great album. Probably the best release of 2007 (barring Systematic Chaos and Paradise Lost). The album has a sense of unity, a sense of purpose and a determination that wasn’t present on any Megadeth release after Youthanasia. Mustaine set out to make an album that would kick his detractor’s teeth in, and although others may disagree, Mustaine did just that.
Washington Is Next
Play For Blood
Dave Mustaine has to be one of the most arrogant metalheads this side of Lars Ulrich. I'm convinced he thinks every shit he shits out is made of pure 24k gold. United Abominations is filled with pseudo-clever political statements that lack any sort of subtlety, or class for that matter. I refuse to refer to them as lyrics, because they're more like rants of a burnt out rockstar.
But metal is never about the lyrics, so I will talk about the music behind the lyrics. And it is here that it's mostly Dave doing what Dave does. The songs are painfully generic, with nothing to separate them from anything else Dave has done post-Rust in Peace. I don't think Dave knows how to write a good song anymore. All he knows how to write are pop songs (as evident on Risk) and as a result, these come off as modern rock with a metal mask on. It's all verse-chorus-verse-chorus-solo-chorus and nothing in between. There's none of the genuine emotion that was conveyed in past work. There's none of the frustrated anger of Killing is my Business..., none of the social contempt of Peace Sells, and none of the epic narration of Rust in Peace. In ten (or even five) years nobody will know what United Abominations is, and nor will they care. It might get the occasional mallcore kid into Megadeth, sort of like a gateway, but once they discover the more classic works, this won't be listened to. Even Risk will be remembered as "the album where Dave sucked modern rock cock and swallowed". But this, along with The System Has Failed, and Cryptic Writings, will not be remembered in the years to come. There's simply nothing to jog the imagination, nothing for the fan to hold on to. This is basically Dave going through the musical motions. The riffs are boring, the chorii are boring, and the solos are boring. Seeing as that's all this is, we can conclude it's a boring album.
Like I said earlier, the words suck too. This is just an album made by a bitter and butthurt man (who cried in that Metallica documentary Some Kind of Monster) and should be treated as such. If you're knowledgable to stumble upon Megadeth on this site, you should know not to get this. There's no reason to get it. If you do, I can guarantee it will gather dust. Dave should just call it quits and admit that Megadeth hasn't made anything of worth since Youthanasia.
We all listened to Gears of War when it came out (as part of the OST of the game, to the excellence of which a certain Chacko Khan testifies.) and considering how fucking bad that song was, Sonic Abominations seemed like a more apt title for the album. Cut to March 2007, when samples of Sleepwalker were posted on the net. True, I probably had very low expectations from it but the song took me by surprise. It had all the trademarks of ass-kicking era Megadeth : a buzzing sledgehammer of a riff, that pissed-off snarl that ONLY Mustaine can possibly pull off and some superb lead guitar work. Now, here was hope that there was probably going to be a quality thrash/speed metal offering.
Alright, let’s cut to the chase here. There are approximately 93,846,171,015,101 threads on the internet about how MetallicA and Megadeth and some other bands that pioneered the thrash revolution have sold out, are not true to their roots anymore and “Megadeth/MetallicA’s next album : Do you think they can recapture the magic?”. However, the real question about a band like MetallicA or Megadeth today is do they WANT to make an album like Master of Puppets or Rust in Peace. I mean, it was the ‘80s; these guys had mullets and spandex. That kinda shit gets to you and you make pissed off music which kicked muchos behind (really, fucking mullets!!). But NOW, sitting in their 20 million dollar mansion with a tennis court and an indoor hot water pool and Jacuzzi, it’s kind of hard to be pissed off, right? Apparently not, as Mustaine has proved with United Abominations. I don’t know what that fucker is ticked off about now but damn, it’s worked wonders. Wait, maybe it’s George Bush. I mean, it wouldn’t be the first Bush-bashing album that has been outstanding this year. We already had Ministry's The Last Sucker getting a few kvltheads banging.
United Abominations is possibly Mustaine’s best output since Countdown to Extinction. It truly signals an intent to get back to producing the angry, vengeful, neck snapping music that we all came to love Mustaine for. The sound on this album is essentially a hark back to Countdown To Extinction and, to a lesser extent, Rust In Peace in terms of sheer ferocity of the riffage, the intricacy of structuring, blistering lyrical work and most importantly, the fucking awesome solo work, something which has been sorely missed since Marty “The God of Guitar” Friedman moved out. Glen Drover (ex - King Diamond) fills that void more than competently on this album and Mustaine too, is back in fine touch, pulling off a few scorchers himself. Bass duties are handled by James Lomenzo (ex-Black Label Society) but seriously, who are we shitting here? I miss Ellefson.
On to the good parts of the album now. As mentioned before, the song structuring and lyrical work are highly reminiscent of Countdown To Extinction, especially on songs like Sleepwalker and Amerikhastan which mirror the kind of elaborate finesse displayed on songs like Foreclosure of a dream and Architecture of Aggression. There's a lot of mid-paced ass kickers on the album such as the title song, Pray For Blood and the rather melancholy You're Dead which might I add, is a dead ringer (haw!no pun intended) for This Was My Life. The lyrics are extremely well written too, mostly dealing with the Iraq war and some Bush-bashing thrown in for good effect.
“And to beat violence, you must ignore the focus groups,
You must send in the Mossad, turn off the BBC, CNN
And don't look back
Rest assured there'll be no more Middle Eastern crisis. Hell, there'll be no more Middle East!”
YEAH! Go Mustaine!
There are a couple of clunkers on the album, such as the aforementioned Gears Of War and a new version of A Tout Le Monde with Christina Scabbia (of Lacuna Coil) further emasculating an already limp-wristed piece of work.However, these are only minor aberrations in what is otherwise an extremely ballsy, all out thrasher.
I am not going to imply that United Abominations warrants your undividend attention, or that it is going to garner any significant fraction of of the playtime that Rust In Peace or Countdown to Extinction managed to. Indeed, that money might be well utilized in purchasing the new Evile or Fueled By Fire. However, this album holds a lot of retribution value for most Megadeth fans.Vindication for sticking by the band through the bad times. And for my money, Mustaine finally gets his one up on MetallicA.
Originally written for [url]http://kvltsite.com[/url]
Well here we go again. The 3rd Megadeth album in a row where all we heard leading up to it's release was how it was going to be the next "Rust In Piece" and the return to the thrash roots this band built it's name on in the late 80's early 90's. Much like the last few albums the first song released (from this album it was "Sleepwalker", last album it was "Kick The Chair") was the thrashiest song from the album really making you believe this was going to be it. Megadeth was back.
Well once again this has all been a wolf in sheeps clothing. "United Abominations" is not "Rust In Piece", "Peace Sells", or even "Countdown to Extinction". Dave has once again fooled us but this time there are a few more solid tracks than I was expecting here although I still wouldnt call this a thrash release. But I will admitt it is the best thing this band has released in qutie some. But lets get the bad out of the way first.
The remake of "A Toute Le Monde" is weak. The original sucked and now it features the singer of Lacuna Coil. It's almost like Megadeth were looking for the type of hit Evenesance had a few years ago with "Bring Me to Life" which is pathetic. This is supposed to be a thrash album!! "Never Walk Alone" is just a slowed down, more radio friendly version of Tornado of Souls". The riffs are a dead give-a-way and the chorus is lame. Also on many of the tracks there are goofy political soundclips like on the last album, and much like the last album its annoying. You can already get the message through the music and with these soundclips added it just seems too preachy and over the top.
But there are a good number of solid songs here that might make it worthy for old school fans to check it out. The aformentioned "Sleepwalker" is awesome. Even if it is a re-hashed version of "Good Mourning/Black Friday". It is the heaviest song on the album and the epic intro leading into the song works perfectly. "Washington Is Next" is another solid song although I feel Dave sings too much in the song. Musically its probably the most technical song on the album. New lead guitar play Glenn Drover does and amazing job on the solos, proving he is worthy for the spot once held by great players like Marty Friedman and Chris Poland. "Pray for Blood" and Gears of War" are both two cool songs as well. Their both mid-tempo songs but they donts seem as soft and commerical as many of the mid-tempo songs the band has been doing these past 13 years.
I cant help but get dissapointed as I once again expected this to the glorious return to thrash that Dave and the record label hyped it up to be. I guess I'm a sucker for falling for it a 3rd time. Still I would say this is than the lastest releases from Metallica,and Anthrax, and probably the best thing Megadeth has done since "Countdown to Extinction". I know Dave plans on doing at least one more album and I really hope he lets it all fly next time. He has an amazing band beind him and I know he can pull out another classic. The signs are there he just needs to get over the whole radio friendly thing. Your not going to top Metallica in that department Dave. Let it go. Take the higher road and you'll see in the end you'll be more respected.
The new Megadeth album was highly expected and has gained some of the highest chart positions for the band in many years. This was surely mainly due to Megadeth active touring in the past three years, their new record label Roadrunner and the dedication of their fans. While many people seem to expect another Rust in Peace this will propably never happen ‘cause all records are products of their time. With the comeback record, The System Has Failed in 2004 Megadeth surely was a one man band supported by session musicians. The album however showcased some of the most powerfull tracks since the classic Countdown to Extinction, in the form of Blackmail the Universe, Kick the Chair and The Scorpion and you knew to expect something good for the future. With a steady line-up that grew together while touring Megadeth is once again a true band and this can be heard on their latest release United Abominations.
The album opener Sleepwalker really showcases this statement, all the members seem to have had input in this track with James Lomenzo delivering some well executed basslines in the beginning, good melodic solos by Glen Drover and very good drumming by Shawn Drover, all lead tightly by the brainchild himself, Dave Mustaine. One that really pops into a listeners mind is the fact of this album consists of very different tracks and tons of solos. The songwriting here is very good with some suprising time changes on few tracks and the voice of Dave Mustaine has never been as captivating. The riffing on this album really uses elements from all the albums in the bands catalogue and some new elements have been thrown in as well with some progish vibe here and there. The controversial À Tout Le Monde is a good remake of the classic but with a more mainstream rock feel, a good remake but pales in comparison to the original and breaks the more aggressive vibe of the album a bit. The songs are heavy, yet melodic and catchy demonstrated best with the single track Washington Is Next!.
From a lyrical point of view this album really has a lot to say. Now the title really showcases only one aspect of the album which is political, but there ain’t more than four tracks dealing with politics. The rest well, some of getting even or revenge, some biblical references, human relationships and the closing track Burnt Ice showcases the tragedy of a drug addict.
Now the production is very good with thick basslines and clear solos although at times the rhythm guitar could’ve been thicker and personally I’m not a fan of the basic thrash metallic floppy bass drum sound. United Abominations is a very good album by Megadeth, not their best work but truly impressive of a band with such a long history of complications. If you liked albums like Countdown to Extinction and Cryptic Writings, United Abominations is almost as diverse as those and this definitely is the most solid and natural release with the classic Megadeth vibe since Countdown in 1992.
'United abominations' has been described in some quarters as the thrashiest Megadeth CD since 'Rust in peace', and while that may be true, it's a bit of a misleading sentiment. There are certainly a few breaks here and there that approach the Megadeth style of old, but there is no way 'United abominations' could be looked on as a thrash CD. Being no less than their 3rd release in a row to be described with that old 'return-to-the-roots' adage, its refreshing to see that, while it certainly isn't entirely true, Dave Mustaine has at least written a collection of songs that are unmistakably metal from start to finish for the first time in over a decade.
Along with his new colleagues, guitarist Glen Drover, his drummer brother Shawn (both from the Canadian band Eidolon), and former Black Label Society bass player James Lomenzo, Mustaine has turned out a very consistent selection of songs that while hardly world-beating, are mostly enjoyable enough if taken in their own right. It may seem like setting expectations a little low, but a bit of realism is needed when awaiting a new Megadeth CD. Following their total abandonment of their thrash roots for 1994's power metallish 'Youthanasia', Megadeth's decline was almost terminal. The 2 separate comeback CDs – one from the pop-rock nonsense that was 'Risk' and the other from a self-imposed exile, were both fair efforts, but were hamstrung by some weak songs and a simple lack of inspiration.
'United abominations' is certainly an improvement on its 2 predecessors, 'The system has failed' and 'The world needs a hero', but at times also sounds quite unimaginative and lifeless, without ever becoming offensive to the ears. Songs like "Gears of war" just seem to plod along without really going anywhere, whereas others such as "Blood on ice" are in fact really quite good. Definitely the best aspect of the recording, as you would perhaps expect, is the lead playing – Mustaine and Drover turn out some brilliant solos that liven up plenty of the songs and lift a few from mediocrity to something a little more impressive. The closest comparison that could be made to a previous Megadeth CD is probably 'Youthanasia', with most of the songs staying in midtempo and keeping to the same traditional metal sound.
Unfortunately, those infernal spoken vocals that plagued the 2 previous CDs are still hanging around like a bad smell. While thankfully not reaching the cringeworthy levels of the soundbites on the 2 preceding CDs, Mustaine's insistence of shoehorning in the things he wanted to say in the song but couldn't force into the lyrics, particularly at the start of the title track come across as needless and pretty self-serving.
This brings us to the lyrics themselves. Mustaine has never been a stranger to political content in his songs, but for the most part he has never come across as being too overbearing and indeed confused sounding as he does here. With the title track decrying the United Nations and backing the foreign policy of the U.S. administration to the hilt, its then baffling to hear his government being described in the same terms as the Roman Empire in "Washington is next!". Lyrical content is rarely a big distraction for me when it comes to metal, but when they are this muddled and, in the case of "Sleepwalker" and a few others, just plain stupid, it grates severely. Not only this, but it seems as though a great deal of the lyrics were written with little thought to how they would fit into the songs – often they don't rhyme, or simply don't flow well with the music at all. Often it just sounds like Mustaine is just muttering a speech he has written over the riffs.
In simplest terms, 'United abominations' is merely a solid heavy metal record that excels in as many places as it drags. Based on the overall improvement over the last 2 Megadeth records (in my opinion, this is in fact their best in 13 years, but that's hardly saying much) and an apparent steadiness in the line-up that has been missing for some time now, it depends on your level of optimism as to what the future holds for the new-look version of the band. Will they continue to build on the progress shown here and perhaps deliver that final classic CD? Or will they continue coasting along turning out slightly above average efforts? I'd bet on the latter, but at least with CDs like this one, no further harm is being done to the band's legacy.
(Originally written for http://www.metalcdratings.com/)
I’ve never felt like such a sucker as I did when I finished my first listen to this record. Can I get my $9.99 back? In my youthful naivete, I would never have imagined that a decade later my favorite band (a word I use loosely at this point) would sink so low. Put simply, this would be awful even by the low standards of a second tier thrash act. The only reason I haven’t given it a 0% is the fact that many would regard that as mere hyperbole, when in truth I don’t believe it deserves anything more.
I’ll get the few positives out of the way before I go into what will likely be a poorly organized (due to my extreme irritation) rant on how much everything else sucks:
- There are a few (and I stress "few") noteworthy riffs that remind one of what Mustaine was once capable of.
- When he isn't ripping off his own pull-off patterns from 1986, Mustaine's lead phrasing is, as always, interesting.
- Glen Drover, while not a tenth as intriguing as Poland/Friedman, can play.
Nothing else is positive: you know your record is a piece of shit when a song from a prior record is rerecorded in inferior form and is still by far the best track. 80-90% of the riffs here are, even when pleasing to the ear of a non-discerning fan, not remotely inventive (and in some cases totally inappropriate: see Burnt Ice), and there's nothing to listen to drum-wise. The real issue, though, is Mustaine. At this point, there are three possibilities:
1) The first four records were happy accidents and everything from Countdown to Extinction through Risk involved substantial help from bandmates/producers with the lyrics, vocal melodies, and arrangements;
2) the lyrics, etc. have simply fallen off due to the man's disinterest in the subject matter he's now forcing (as proven by the fact that Never Walk Alone, while not a good song, is probably the least offensive track here lyrically, and is not coincidentally the only one to touch on post-CTE subject matter);
3) he can only write when high on something.
I suspect we're dealing with a combination of all three, and fuck is it depressing. Post CTE/Youthania, I'd have called (and did call) Mustaine one of metal's top five or so lyricists. He doesn't even register now, clocking in even lower than the most derivative death metal acts, who at least know their limitations. The second reason above is the one that most grates on me: I believe Mustaine loves the fan adoration he gets when playing metal, but I do not believe for a moment that he personally enjoys most of the shit he's produced since Risk. Face it people: the man wants to write pop/rock songs, and if his fans would let him get away with it, he’d be doing just that.
Anyway, the vocal melodies are even worse than the lyrics themselves, and are awkward beyond belief. The number one culprit here is the title track, over which I nearly retched. Where were the producers here? Everything about this is amateurish. It's amazing how A Tout le Monde, a song I don't even particularly care for, stands out so much due to the sole fact that the vocal lines actually fit the meter, etc. Vocally his voice is strong, but there's nary a hint of the promise he showed on Risk as far as his range (in all senses).
Finally, the arrangements are, to repeat this term, amateurish, with inappropriate solos laid down constantly in places they have no business being, like an afterthought. There is barely anything approaching an attempt at actual songwriting, and unlike the enjoyable riff-salads we get in some of the more extreme genres, in this case there isn’t even any passion to carry the day.
I'm done. Worst record I've heard, in any genre of music, in at least three years. As the title suggests, I imagine things will only get worse, as a fifty-year old Mustaine continues pumping out recycled garbage based on the encouragement of listeners who seek nothing beyond the mere genre classification of “metal.”
Now where is my copy of Peace Sells?
One of the things that I’ve come to understand about my love for the musical genre of heavy metal is all the controversy surrounding it. Nowhere is this more present than in the case of MegaDeth’s latest compositional offering “United Abominations”, which is the closest thing to a return to form for Mustaine musically, although lyrically it may go down as the most misunderstood album by those who are otherwise fans of MegaDeth’s heavily present political ideology.
Musically this is the greatest thing I’ve heard out of the band since “Youthanasia”, and in certain areas surpasses both that release and its predecessor “Countdown to Extinction” in terms of sheer energy. The lead work put forth by Mustaine and Glenn Drover alone blows most of their 90s material clear out of the water, blending memorable melodic ideas with plenty of shred passages, and resurrecting the once thought dead dueling guitar dialogues that this band used to pump out with intrigue. There are also some signature riffs put forth on the first single “Gears of War” and “Never Walk Alone” that challenge some of the 80s material, to speak nothing for the sub-par work afterwards.
The pacing of the entire opus listens like a classic thrash album with a sizable slow spot in the middle, probably the only real flaw aside from a somewhat botched attempt at a remake in “A Toute Le Monde”. We start off with “Sleepwalker”, which sounds like “Blackmail the Universe” minus the repetitiveness and the spoken parts, definitely a keeper. “Washington is Next” ratchets up the tempo even more with a crushing galloping riff with a beat to match; some peg one of the guitar parts as a Maiden rip-off, but I don’t hear it anywhere. After “Never Walk Alone”, a song that reminds me somewhat of “Island of Tornados”, the tempo drops significantly and you’re left wondering where all the thrash went.
“Gears of War” the title track and “Play for Blood” are solid slower tracks that listen like something off of “Youthanasia”, and do occasionally pick up a bit after a while. The other 2 songs stuck in the middle of what would otherwise be a strict thrash album, however, don’t quite measure up. “A Tout Le Monde” puts together two elements that I would otherwise approve of, but fails to recapture the spirit of the original in any way, shape, or form. I can picture Cristina Scabbia’s eyes full of stars at the thought of doing a duet with Mustaine, since it’s more than likely that he was one of the ones that inspired her to join a metal band. Unfortunately the song is just too fast to fit the subject matter, and the ending lead section that gave me goose bumps in the original version has been drastically diminished.
The closing 3 songs on here take the album back to where it should be, speeding down the highway with the high beams blaring. “You’re Dead” easily beats the other two, combining together some heavy as hell grooves during the early sections with a blazing solo section that takes you back to the glory days of “So Far, So Good, So What?”. The other 2 songs that round out the mix are also solid thrashers employing plenty of masterful guitar ideas with Dave’s angry, singing through his teeth sounding voice. If these don’t make you shout out that MegaDeth is back, nothing will.
Many have noted the controversial political rhetoric found on some of the songs on here, particularly those containing spoken sections. Although to many the thought of attacking the UN seems a Neo-Con method of propagandizing the metal masses into the blind patriotism that the current American government seeks from its citizens, this conclusion fails to appreciate the complexity of America’s body politic and that of this entire album. It is somewhat odd that someone would glorify the foreign policy of George W. Bush in the title song and then criticize the proliferation of weapons technology in “Gears of War”. In fact, it seems more likely that Mustaine is attacking the UN because it has shared complicity in most of the atrocities visited upon Iraq and several other poorer nations.
The political message on here seems less in line with the Neo-Cons, who are mostly pro-UN, and more in line with Libertarian hardliners like Alex Jones who regularly tear apart the likes of former Presidents FDR and Harry Truman. The first spoken passage of the song “Amerikastan” sounds more like a warning to the American people about the potential for what the CIA refers to as “Blowback”, while the second suggests that America’s foreign policy has been hijacked by Halliburton. This is not the kind of viewpoint that I would associate with the Corporatist ideology of the Neo-Cons, but if not taken as a whole it is understandable that one would think this album is praising America’s disastrous foreign policy.
If you liked MegaDeth before the incident that is otherwise known as “Risk”, you will be greatly pleased with what has been recorded for your listening pleasure. Although not a full return to the glory days of “Rust in Peace” and “Peace Sells, But who’s buying”, there is far more good to be heard on here than bad. If you don’t like thrash metal for the politics, it’ll be a bit tough to tune out the narrations found on a couple of the songs. If you do follow the politics of the music you buy, try to take this album as a whole before jumping to conclusions about what it is saying. I for one have been waiting 13 years for an album that sounds like this from Mustaine, and I plan to give it plenty more attention before shelving it to devote time to newer purchases.
I'm kind of in the middle of the road on this one. It's clearly not an offensive album at all, nor is it Megadeth's best yet or any semblance of a thrash album (although I could care less if they made the second coming of Rust in Peace). None of the songs are outwardly terrible (perhaps save for the pitiful remake of "A Tout Le Monde"), and overall this album is fairly solid. I think that's the main problem with it though---this album doesn't really do much of anything, or try to go anywhere. It just starts somewhere and ends in the very same place, like a hamster in a spinning wheel. United Abominations is a passable, but thoroughly uncreative and uninteresting piece of work. Mustaine just isn't challenging himself like he used to, he's taking the easy way out and making 'easy listening' metal that virtually anyone can enjoy, blandly faceless and pedestrian. I suspect this is to prove that he can still do metal, but I'd rather him make another rock album like Youthanasia than hear this one.
The other problem here is Mustaine's insane drive to include his political messages into his music. The music is practically a second-class citizen here, what with Mustaine's drawn out spoken word passages dominating songs like the title track and especially "Amerikhastan." There's really no need for that, since I know I don't listen to thrash metal to hear a political commentary, and I'm pretty sure most others don't, either. It would be fine if he worded these into a more lyrical form as he used to, but for some reason he's content with smothering the riffs with those obnoxious spoken word passages. Mustaine's singing has degraded here, too. It's more like talking than actual singing, a lot of the time, and it just doesn't flow well with the music. It doesn't help that the lyrics aren't really written with many catchy hooks most of the time (there are exceptions, like how the chorus of "Blessed are the Dead" never gets out of my head), like essays. If Mustaine has so much to say, he could just include it in the damn liner notes of the booklet, or better yet, write his own novel. Then we could enjoy some of the songs here that were butchered by his monologues.
The songs without spoken word passages are fine musically, such as "Gears of War", "Blessed are the Dead", "You're Dead" and "Burnt Ice", and the two opening tracks are very nice as well with some decent riffs and shredding solos. But not one ounce of emotion is invoked here, not in the least. It's passable and well played heavy metal, but it's just not very energized. Mustaine has always wanted to best Metallica, and perhaps he has done that musically, but at least Metallica invokes aggrivation or anger in their listeners these days, actual emotions, which is still more than can be said for Megadeth. For Megadeth fanboys, this is the shit, and you'll probably enjoy it more than I did. This isn't bad, and maybe I'll even play it sometimes, but Mustaine can do better. Recommended only to the Megadeth diehards.
I don't care how much platitudinous it will sound for you, but I'm highly amazed that after 24 years of activity, Megadeth released such astonishing album without sound recycled even a little bit. Get the fuck out from your 1990 hole, it isn't R.I.P 2, it won't be, and it's excellent like that. Why should you expect from them to release the same album again? What's the point with listenning to something you already know? Classic remains classic, and it can't be done again, deal with it. When you listening to "United Abominations", be sure you won't find any thrash moments here. This is a heavy metal album, with some power metal moments though, but it's mostly sounds like melodic heavy metal. It isn't fast as Megadeth's 80's albums, but this is still a pretty fast album here and there with a lot of technical riffs and solos.
The production here is flawless, honestly. The bass can be heard loud and clear, the guitars sounds pretty heavy and the drums aren't too much dominant and flows perfectly. Mustiane does a very good job with the vocals. He doesn't sounds worned out even a bit, he sounds fresh and piercing enough when he needs to. Maybe this is his best album in terms of vocals, it's amazing that after forty years he sounds more intensive and powerful than how he was in his 20's.
"Sleepwaker", while being the longest track here, sounds shorter than other tracks due to his big variation and interesting composition. It opens with clean guitar pluckings and then comes some choirs and pretty solid bass riffing, then the guitars becomes distorted and builds up intensively until the first verse beings. Daves sings with full heat together with the flowing riffing and gets warmer and warmer in a pretty solid bridge, and then comes another verse and bridge and immediately the chorus comes in and changes the mood. It's a pretty catchy chorus with awesome using of acoustic guitars among distorted guitars, and there is also pretty good using with dual vocals, one repeats the word Sleepwalker and the other one sings different melody, together it's just sounds extremely catchy. The break in the middle is pretty awesome too, piercing riffs and overwhelming leading guitar which brings you back to the technical ecstasy of well known classics such as "Hangar 18". What can I say, this is one of their most intensive opener tracks to date and it really makes you feel energetic, "Sleepwalker" can be easily one of Megadeth's best hymns at their live shows.
"Washington Is Next!" and "Never Walk Alone...A Call To Arms" are pretty good continuers to the awesome opener track, as they are pretty catchy and has some very good sweeping sections which makes you wondering how the hell Mustaine can put out so much excellent moments within several moments and sound so seething. The title track has a bunch of well written riffs and again, another overwhelming chorus. It talks pretty much about politics (as the rest of the album) and contains some french spoken parts in the middle which gives the song a bit more realistic sense and makes you think a bit about our world.
Another mentionable track is of course "A Tout Le Monde". It's a remake of their well known hit from 94's Youthanasia, with a slight difference within it's original composition. However, the individual aspect of it from the original track is the appearance of Cristina Scabbia (Lacuna Coil) with Mustaine in the vocals which adds a more feminine touch for the track. It begins with clean guitars and Mustiane sings calmly the first verse, then it gains distrotion and Scabbia comes in as a background vocalist. The chorus sounds pretty melodic with the soft touch of the clean guitars and Scabbia's vocals among Mustaine rougher approach and overdriven guitars, again pretty good variation using which makes this song sounds a bit livelier than it's original version. The second verse is a bit different with some changes with the vocals divisions of Mustaine and Scabbia and the chorus which comes after that sounds amazing again. Then comes an amazingly orgasmic solo and the verse later sounds more exalted and so it's just flows with the chorus and makes you feel an incredible excitement. Overall, it's pretty exciting to hear this old track in a different, more modern form with a bit cleaner production. I don't know which version I prefer, the one from Youthanasia or this one, but after all both of the versions are awesome, and the new one doesn't disappoints even a bit and changes pretty good the mood between the former and the follower track.
So well, "United Abominations" is definitely the best album of Megadeth since 1990. Yes, it's better than "Countdown to Extinction", and this is one of the best heavy metal albums I've heard from our currently decade. A must have for each Megadeh fan or heavy metal fonder, just buy it and I'll sure you won't regret. I've listened to it countless times and I'm enjoyes it each time and feels grateful to Mustaine that still remains one of the best song writers in the heavy metal music today. I can't believe that I gonna see them live on July, performing some material from this amazing album...oh yeah.
Megadeth’s United Abominations, while not a return to their trash roots is still a very good album. Most songs on this disk are mid tempo, with some a little quicker then others. The only real all out thrasher is the lead track Sleepwalker. That is not however to say that album lags in any way. Megadeth have pulled off great albums without breakneck tempos before, and this release is on par with Countdown to Extinction or anything after. Making up for the slower tempos are fantastic lead work from Dave Mustaine and Glen Drover that bring back thoughts of Dave and Marty back in early 90’s.
This album like The System Has Failed is a return to Megadeth playing just metal songs, no pop songs that were made just for radio like on Cryptic Writings or Risk. Dave returns to form bringing back what he has made his career out of, political songs. For the most part everything after Countdown, with a few exceptions was not political. United Abominations goes back to Megadeth’s early days containing many politically driven songs.
The best of the best on this album are the first three tracks, and the closer. Sleepwalker is very thrashy with some nice solo work, Washington is Next! is a driving song that paints a picture of America falling out as a super power, and Never Walk Alone…A Call To Arms is very catchy song that is centered around the catchiest chorus on the album. The album finishes with a bang with Burnt Ice. Burnt Ice starts off with coughing reminiscent of Sweet Leaf by Black Sabbath, and for the most part is built around the guitar solos that contain some top notch lead work reminiscent of the Rust in Peace days.
The rest of the album is also very good but nothing stands out as much as the tracks above. United Abominations, Gears of War, Blessed are the Dead, Amerikastan, and Your Dead are all very good tracks that fit the album very well and give the disk a nice flow. The only problems I had with United Abominations are the remake of A Tout Le Monde, and Play for Blood. First off Play for Blood has some good riff work, but just seems to much in the vein of Crush ‘Em for my liking. It seems Dave just wrote that one to try to get Megadeth back in sport arenas and I didn’t much care for it. A Tout Le Monde (Set Me Free) has caught a lot of heat from die hard fans as this version just is unable to keep pace with the original. This song just lacks what the original had. The faster tempo takes the melancholy ambiance out of the song and that is what made the original so good.
United Abominations is not the masterwork Rust In Peace was, though it is another great album from Megadeth. While I would not say this is better then Countdown, it is on par with it and perhaps their best release since then.
A new Megadeth-album is always a guarantee for a lot of debate among fans and critics. There will always be people who will only be satisfied with another ‘Rust In Peace’ and as a result were disappointed by any album that came out since. For me personally, only ‘Risk’ and ‘World Needs A Hero’ were shit products, but even those albums had their moments. Megadeth’s latest effort ‘The System Has Failed’ was to me a great album. Maybe not the Megadeth we could hear on ‘Rust In Peace’, but – although I wouldn’t complain if we got another ‘Rust In Peace’ – that’s not really necessary either. The newest effort, ‘United Abominations’, more or less falls into the same category as its predecessor: it’s a very decent Heavy Metal album with Dave Mustaine in top form again. Nothing earth shattering, but nothing to be ashamed of either.
With that in mind, the beginning of the album comes as a very pleasant surprise. ‘Sleepwalker’ and ‘Washington Is Next’ are simply the best two tracks Megadeth has started an album with since ‘Holy Wars’ and ‘Hangar 18’ on ‘Rust In Peace’. ‘Sleepwalker’ even contains the so desired Thrash riffing that old school Megadeth-fans have yearned for for so long. The great guitar solos (Glen Drover is every bit as good as Marty Friedman) and an extremely pissed off Dave Mustaine just give the song the finishing touch it needs. ‘Washington Is Next’ is more melodic and packed with irresistable, infectious melodies. Those verses just gave me goosebumps. And as the title suggests, religious or not, Dave Mustaine will always be pissed off at governments in general.
That’s where the problem starts. And the problem I want to point out is two sided. First of all, it might not have been a very good idea to start the album off with its two best tracks. It’s like wasting the vast majority of your ammunition on your first two enemies, only to find out that there’s a lot more waiting after that. There’s still a lot to enjoy after that, but the high level of the first two tracks is never reached again.
Second part of the problem is that Dave Mustaine sometimes seems to put his political views higher on the ladder of importance than the music itself. ‘United Abominations’ has some killer riffing, but Mustaine just doesn’t seem to know when to stop his rants. Way too many spoken words. The same goes more or less for ‘Amerikhastan’ (notice the pattern in wordplaying in the titles?). It’s annoying. And that’s not necessarily because I disagree with Mustaine – although I definitely think he exaggerates in the album’s title track – but I’m interested in what Mustaine’s guitar has to say and what he has to sing, not in his speeches.
The lyrics to ‘Blessed Are The Dead’ are extremely cheesy as well. Seriously, the whole four horsemen theme is a tap from which all of the good water is already taken. Especially when it’s done as uninventive as in this song. Musically, the song isn’t all that interesting either. And ‘Never Walk Alone...A Call To Arms’ is a complete ripoff of ‘Vortex’ from ‘Cryptic Writings’. The slower tempo and the song’s good chorus don’t really mask that.the main riffs of both of the songs are quite similar. Not a bad song at all, but let’s just say I prefer the original.
Speaking of prefering the original...the absolute low point of the album is the remake of ‘A Tout Le Monde’ from ‘Youthanasia’. Contrary to a popular opinion (although the ones bashing the song are usually the same people that sing the song along the loudest), I really like the original. And nothing can outdo the original, right? Definitely right in this case. The higher tempo doesn’t suit the song at all and the addition of Lacuna Coil-singer Cristina Scabbia adds absolutely nothing to this version. Maybe some abominable vocal harmonies that are slightly off-key. Mustaine never should have raped this otherwise fine ballad this way. I suspect that letting Scabbia guest is purely based on commercial motives.
However, there is still quite a lot to enjoy on ‘United Abominations’. ‘Gears Of War’ is a very powerful track and its solo section is probably the finest on the album. Not the solo itself, but the riff underneath the solo is especially something to my delight. It really has this mighty eighties feel and it gave me goosebumps. Totally killer riff fest as well by the way. Another great solo section can be found in the song ‘You’re Dead’. The ending of the song is pure speed Metal. That solo section may be a little short, but definitely very fine! The song itself is a bit more progressive, but that suits this lineup of Megadeth fine. And ‘Burnt Ice’ is a nice closer. It slightly reminds me of ‘Ashes In Your Mouth’ from ‘Countdown To Extinction’, although the latter is definitely better.
So now for the hardest part of this review...where to place this album in Megadeth’s curriculum? I think it fits best somewhere between ‘Countdown To Extinction’ and ‘Youthanasia’. Stylistically, the balanced mix between Hard Rock, traditional Heavy Metal and Thrash / Speed Metal would fit well on ‘Countdown To Extinction’. But quality-wise, this album is closer to ‘Youthanasia’. I think ‘United Abominations’ is slightly more consistent than ‘Youthanasia’, but ‘Youthanasia’ fits certain moods better than ‘United Abominations’.
Fans of Megadeth’s post-1990 work can blindly buy this album. ‘Sleepwalker’, ‘Washington Is Next’ and to a lesser extent ‘Gears Of War’ alone are already worth every penny you pay for this album. It may be a bit of a letdown after ‘The System Has Failed’ though. ‘The System Has Failed’ started out with seven stellar tracks. There aren’t even seven steller tracks on ‘United Abominations’ as a whole. What you get in the form of ‘United Abominations’ is a decent Heavy Metal album that proofs Megadeth isn’t dead yet. Not even close.
This album, along with its apologists, is full of misleading tripe. Anyone with half a brain predicted that this album would be full of references to current world events, the United Nations and whatnot, but this? This is nothing but a tool for Mustaine to vent his frustrations with the world. It would be a different story if he channeled his rage and disgust and used it to fashion music based on that, but alas it is not so, as he is a snob. Worse yet, the political ideals represented by the lyrics and spoken passages are so overt that it practically renders all musical qualities as immediately forgettable.
There are two outstanding tracks: ‘Sleepwalker’ has a half-decent riff and a recall to ‘Take No Prisoners’ at the 3:20 mark at the break, and ‘Gears of War’ has both a catchy opening (“gears of war… gears of war…”) and chorus. The reason these are outstanding? No, not because they’re great songs bunched in with a bunch of shitty ones, but because neither of these feature the overbearing lyrical themes which overshadow all the others (the second coming of ‘A Tout le Monde’ is an exception, but that one’s awful anyway). Unless I bothered to carefully dissect it, the former could be about an actual sleepwalker, so it doesn’t outright force-feed the listener with political garbage. The latter sounds as if Dave, completely by accident, stumbled upon the genius found on such tracks as ‘Polaris’ from Rust in Peace by targeting warfare lyrically, but remaining somewhat indirect and accentuating the melody and catchiness. There’s no wonder as to why ‘Gears of War’ was released as a single and ‘Sleepwalker’ was a playable track on their MySpace. Despite being decent, these songs have practically nothing in common with the classic ‘Deth albums and even less to do with a high quality of musicianship, especially considering the man penning these songs.
The other single which isn’t painful to listen to is ‘Washington is Next’, but as you would have guessed by the title it’s driven by its lyrical themes, discussing direct issues without creatively turning them into actual songs. This is especially true of the title track; it begins with a spoken passage addressing some bullshit I don’t care about, and the rest of it plods along, complimenting the droning lyrics. Listening to this album is like listening to a lecture you’re not particularly interested in: after it’s done, you can’t really recall anything specific despite it having been about a specific subject.
That’s why tracks like ‘Gears of War’ work, while the other tracks just do not. The former sacrifices the details of current events and issues in the name of musical quality, whereas the latter are just commentaries without the application of artistic integrity. Songs aren’t supposed to just convey talking points outright without bothering to articulate them in at least somewhat poetically, otherwise it’s just garbage. And that’s the overbearing fault of United Abominations: It’s just a series of messages that aren’t even vague to the listener, and the music is little more than a background that isn’t one bit creative. In summary, this album is bereft of any discernable quality and creativity due to the glorification of what appears to be Dave Mustaine’s opinion on everything.
Due to the fact that the actual music is just there to compliment the ideals and values, the album becomes even worse because it just seems like an exercise of mental masturbation. Megadeth has made zero progress, musically, in the last decade, this outing included. Essentially, this album is a portrait of a bitter man venting his frustrations and blasting everything he hates about the world without even bothering to make music. The music’s presence merely serves as a platter to dish out the verbal excrement, really. Dave’s attempts at criticizing world powers through music are a bit too rich when one considers that he has barely taken the time to construct anything worthwhile himself and expects his fans to pay just to listen to his bullshit. Maybe it sounds like an unfair or invalid criticism because, hey, after all it is music… but that IS the music, as sad as that sounds. I can only implore you to never, ever bother with this. Ever.
Oh, and did I mention there’s another ‘A Tout le Monde’? It’s like the first one, except this time it’s about as enjoyable as a turd in a bathtub.
There is such much gossip over this album that it’s exhausting. Half the reviews I read are not even about the music. Well, all I can say is that this one will be.
United Abominations takes off in a dark and thrashy direction. The riffs are techy and fast like on, although not to the level of, Rust in Peace. Many have the attitude and edginess of those on Peace Sells. There are lots of melodic and catchy choruses like on Countdown to Extinction. Dave’s lyrics are extremely political, although he sounds a tad less pissed off than he did in the early 90’s. The rest of the band follows along as one would expect with new recruits joining a legendary name: they follow. The rhythm guys are good but don’t stand out like Menza and Ellefson did back in the day. Glen Drover however holds his own and sometimes overshadows Mustaine himself in the lead department. That’s all I’ll say as far as comparing this to the “old” Megadeth.
Now to the important question: does United Abominations hold its own in a modern forum? My answer to this may seem strange: yes, but because it’s old school. Strait up metal riffs with good clean vocals and tons of lead guitar. That used to be the definition of metal, but nowadays is becoming rarer and rarer. Megadeth are heavy but not brutal, catchy but not radio-friendly. It may be that labels are seeking extremes for marketing purposes, but Megadeth have their legacy to ride on so they can afford to be sonically on the fence.
There are a few filler tracks on this record, one of which is, surprisingly, the title track. It comes across kind of like something Dave really wanted to say so he shoved it into a song. I might suggest he use his blog in the future for such rants instead of his albums. What totally makes up for this though is the solos. I haven’t heard an album with solos this good since Nevermore’s This God Less Endeavor (and had been waiting a long time before that). There was no fear of saturating the album with them either, wherever a solo can be played, it is, and it sounds awesome. I think this may have to do with their being no let-up in the rhythm section during the leads, keeping heavy even if the wankery draws on.
Highlights are the three first tracks, and the closer Burnt Ice. Since I don’t own Youthanasia, I’m happy they redid À Tout le Monde. That song has been pulling my heart strings ever since Dave dedicated it to the victims of the Dawson College shooting at the Montreal Gigantour stop.
In the end, if you liked The System Has Failed, you’ll probably like United Abominations. Dave is doing a respectable job at reviving the late-80s-early-90s Megadeth vibe while keeping it fresh with new ideas (and band members).
Right, let me tell you I totally dig the speedmetal album ‘Killing Is My Business’, the thrash metal classic ‘Rust in Peace’ and the melodic metal album ‘Youthanasia’. I really like a lot Megadeth has done over the years. Nothing however comes close to their album of albums, the thrash metal masterpiece ‘Peace Sells… but who’s buying’. How I’ve given them plenty of chances since 1997, buying each new album as it came out, playing it over and over. Some albums grew on me, some are collecting dust. The latter experience is something that unfortunetaly suits ‘United Abominations’ as well and now I’m really getting fed up with Megadeth.
‘United Abominations’ is neither a really melodic metal album nor a heavy one nor thrash metal. It’s all so bloody nice and safely in the middle of everything that I can only describe this as a load of boring crap. I am not going to describe individual songs here since that would be a waste of time. There is practically nothing happening except for a handfull of good riffs, but none of the riffs and melodies are transformed into quality songs. Only a few sparce moments made me look up from my book but it didn’t take long before all got dull again. Midtempo Megadeth isn’t bad. ‘Symphony of Destruction’ proved that back in 1992. Melody isn’t bad. As said, Youthanasia proved that. But it should be translated into good songs. Just a few good melodies and good riffs don’t automatically make it a good album. Good songwriting comes first.
There is no real thrash nor is there actual speedmetal. There are no real melodic (new) songs that are as catchy as earlier works. Even the new version of ‘a Tout Le Monde’ sucks vocally and dynamically. There are just some typical Mustaine lyrics. And NO, there is almost nothing ‘thrash’ about ‘Washington is Next’. A few riffs do not automatically make something thrash metal. ‘Set the world afire’, that was thrash metal! For that matter ‘St Anger’ has more aggression than ‘United Abomination’. I’m sorry to say for the first time in 17 years Metallica has defeated Megadeth in terms of aggressive metal. Can you imagine that? I’m really disappointed.
With Megadeth it is pretty much always the same every time they release a new album. The band will allegedly be returning to its thrash roots. Everybody will get hyped up about it. The record will be solid, but not the full on thrash metal that was "promised." People will be upset and bash Megadeth for not being tr00-metal4lyfe-thrashheads and releasing Rust in Peace II. And people will complain about the complaining. It's a never ending cycle. With the latest addition to Megadeth's discography, such a cycle will not really change all that much. Dave Mustaine has gone on record, saying that United Abominations will not be Rust in Peace 2, but it might make him forget everything that has happened in between. While I quite enjoy what the band has offered over the past fifteen years, such statements aren't so far from the truth. United Abominations is the best thing Megadeth has put together since Youthanasia.
With United Abominations, Megadeth presents listeners a fair take on the band's career thus far. Megadeth fans should be pleased with the band's eleventh studio album, as it effortlessly makes the transition between thrash (Washington is Next!) to mainstream (A Toute le Monde (Set Me Free)), and does it quite well. However, the sound stressed the most throughout the 48 minute record is an agglomeration of the Peace Sells/Rust in Peace sound and that which is found on Cryptic Writings. The song which perhaps best suits this combination is the album opener, Sleepwalker. The song opens with a chilling acoustic guitar intro somewhat similar to Good Morning/Black Friday before descending into a riffy thrash assault. The chorus is quite catchy and simple, and while it doesn't exactly contribute to the intensity put forward by some of the verses, it makes for an interesting combination. With that in mind, United Abomination's best song would be Washington is Next which would definitely be far the band's strongest song in, say, seventeen years. With blistering riffs, sarcastic lyrics, a strong instrumental base, and powerful imagery it seems almost destined to become a classic Megadeth song. Particularly entertaining is the lengthy instrumental, led largely by guitarists Dave Mustaine and Glenn Drover. Glenn proves his worthiness, handling the melodic leads with skill and expertise throughout the track.
Yet with all this to consider, there are a couple of points which drag the album down. For one, not all of the material is quite strong or consistent enough. Tracks like, Gears of War, Amerikhastan, and Play for Blood are all decent songs. But they don't have the same killer instinct which songs like Never Walk Alone or Washington is Next contain. They're just there, really. Filler tracks if you will. Similarly, a song like You're Dead contains some cool harmonies and vocal lines, but again when compared to a stronger song such as Blessed Are the Dead, it's rather uninteresting. Another irritating part about United Abominations would be the lyrics. Now, Dave will never be among the greatest lyricists of our time, but aside from Washington is Next (which is rather interesting, I must admit) and perhaps Never Walk Alone, the lyrics penned for the album are downright awful. Need an example? Check out Sleepwalker. "Just taking a stroll / don't go to sleep / Here's some toothpicks for your eyes!" …Yeah. Amerikhastan also contains some rather cringe-worthy lines, most notably the spoken line "Hey Jihad Joe guess what / we're coming to get you!" While Dave won't exactly be remembered for his poetry skills, like I've already mentioned, I do feel that he can do a much better job. Fortunately, aside from the Jihad Joe thing, United Abominations does not really suffer at all from the quality of its lyrical work and generally makes for an appealing listen.
United Abominations isn't Rust in Peace 2. It won't end up being one of 2007's greatest albums. So don't get your hopes up too high. But with that in mind, Megadeth's eleventh album is perhaps the band's best in quite awhile. The band's popular thrash sound Musically, the song writing is fairly strong, especially in tracks such as United Abominations, Washington is Next and Blessed are the Dead, and Megadeth's performance is as strong as its ever been over the last few years. The lyrics can be a little dull at times, as can some of the closing tracks, but overall, Megadeth's United Abominations is a very worthwhile album. Pick it up right away.
(Originally written for Sputnikmusic)
The hype around the release of United Abominations has been quite astounding. There has been enough press about 'Megadeth's return to thrash' that it almost had me disenfranchised me towards this release. Megadeth are my favorite band and quite frankly I haven't really been disappointed with some of their releases - whether they are thrash metal or not is another case - but I have enjoyed their catalog nonetheless. I was cautious about United Abominations.
To say the least United Abominations is not all that I was hoping for. A modern Rust in Peace it is not. It is however a definite return to a thrashier form for Megadeth. I would argue that sound is a definite mix of Youthanasia and Rust in Peace. For those of you that are new to the Megadeth scene let me explain all the elements for you.
The guitar work on United Abominations definitely thrash. It also has retained much of the melody that later Megadeth albums attained. The riffs are complex as hell and the trade offs between Mustaine and Drover are quite flawless. The speed is quick through most of the album and the leads show that Dave Mustaine has not lost his place as one of the best guitar writers/players in the world. There is still quite a bit of groove element to it (hence the Youthanasia element). The solos are back with a vengeance with both Mustaine and Drover giving back to back amazing performances. The chemistry between the guitars is stunning on the album - I didn't realize that Drover would fit in so quickly. To top it all off - I think what makes this thrash album so damn good guitar wise is the clean sound of the guitars. Most modern thrash bands try to retain a good deal of technicality but a lot can be lost in the crunch. United Abominations is heavy but still clean and technical sounding.
The bass work is still lacking on United Abominations - even though Lomenzo does a fine job - the bass has lacked a good character since Dave Ellefson left. There is a good foundation that is established by the bass work and that seems to be enough for the guitars to flourish over. Really the bass is second string to the guitar work.
Shawn Drover is the best drummer to be in Megadeth since Nick Menza. (There hasn't been that many...) His style on United Abominations is quite reminiscent of old-school thrash. There is a good deal of variety in the drum work - Drover can easily move from groove to speed to complexity very quickly. The Drover brothers a very talented duo that are a great addition to the Megadeth line-up.
Dave's vocals are still the same. Basically. He doesn't do quite as much high pitched material anymore (age does do that). But his lower vocals were always a preference of mine anyway. He does do quite a bit of spoken parts on this album (United Abominations and Amerikhastan in particular). There is much debate whether or not his voice is even good - but as far as I'm concerned, he is the voice of Megadeth and had it changed much then I would have been upset.
Lyrically, United Abominations has been under some heavy fire. The lyrics (although politically and socially inspired once more) are not near as subtle in its application. The lyrics are pretty straight forward if one looks at them as such. One of the beautiful things about this album is the debates I have read online on whether the album is right or left winged propaganda. The fact that people have long debates over the meaning of the lyrics probably mean that the depth of them is more than just surface value. Topics including the UN, war, death, love, and drugs are all covered. Also, the lyrics at times don't fit quite with the rhythm of the music - like Dave's trying to fit in more words than the music allows. Its not often on the album but I caught it every once in a while.
Megadeth are really upping the ante on United Abominations. Although I loved The System Has Failed - United Abominations tops it. The album is thrashier, angrier, and overall more complex musical writing. The lyrics leave a little to be worked on - but they do sound a bit more emotional. Best work Megadeth has done since Countdown to Extinction.
Songs to check out: Sleepwalker, Washington is Next!, Play for Blood.
The new Megadeth. Will it live up to the expectations? Will it surprise the hell out of me? - A lot of questions turned up when I heard about "United Abominations".
I heard the "Gears of War" single a few months ago and thought it was acceptable, if quite unspectacular and generic. It was far away from thrash metal and I was already expecting another mediocre 'Deth album with a few good songs and a bunch of fillers. So I set my expectations rather low and downloaded this album to be sure it wouldn't be a bad bargain when I bought it.
Luckily, my expectations were surpassed.
Some vintage Thrash influence managed to creep back into Megadeth, more so than on this album's predecessor. Now, don't expect another "Rust in Peace" but a few moments of former glory finally got back into the sound. Some riffs do bear a strong resemblance to pre-1992 Megadeth, coming after you with an almost renewed intensity. Best examples of this are probably "Sleepwalker", "Never Walk Alone" and the second half of "Burnt Ice". The overall riffing could be comparable to a mix of a slight touch of "Rust in Peace"- era thrash riffage + "Countdown to Extinction" heavy metal.
Oh, and these solo sections! Definitely the most surprising highlight on this album. Some of Deth's better solos appear here, and again, the best ones can be found in the thrashier songs. They are usually accompanied by a strong thrash riff and therefore command you to bang your head as hard as physically possible.
Another plus is the improvement in Dave's voice. His old snarl does still appear here and there but his vocals as a whole improved a great lot (they are actually in tune now) and he certainly gained some strength in his voice.
The obligatory odd song on this album is the re-recorded version of "A Tout Le Monde". It was sped up considerably and features guest vocals by the Lacuna Coil singer Christina Scabbia. To be honest, her participation is simply useless. She sings/whispers a few lines on it and her voice was digitally distorted in most parts, which sounds completely ridiculous. The added solo sounds damn good though, but it is too short (longer solos wouldn't be acceptable for the crowd the song is clearly aimed at). The song isn't as bad as people say it is, but well, it still kind of sucks.
Other than this dud, there is no crappy song to be found here, which is a major improvement over the last couple of 'Deth albums.
Highlights are the aforementioned "Sleepwalker", "Washington is Next", "Never Walk Alone" and "Burnt Ice". If you enjoy any Megadeth album after "Rust in Peace", I'm sure you'll enjoy this.
Just one more thing Dave, drop the spoken-word passages. They are simply annoying and unnecessary; you surely got your point across.
Hell yes. This isn't old-school Megadeth nor is it even true thrash, but it still kicks ass all over the place. I have been thoroughly unimpressed with anything Megadeth has put out since Rust in Peace (I could never grasp why everyone loves Countdown and Youthanasia - both have their share of truly dull songs mixed in with the good ones), but now, for the first time since that masterpiece, we have a Megadeth album that is solid all the way through. That's not to say this even comes close to RiP, but I think its safe to say it's better than anything since.
This definitely isn't a return to Megadeth's old sound, though it does crop up here and there in songs like "Sleepwalker" and "Play For Blood" (and note that by "old sound" I mean what they did on their first four albums, the only sound worth returning to). In a lot of ways, however, it is a return to what made them kick so much ass to begin with: attitude. With the exception of the "A Tout Le Monde" remake, this album of political diatribes, snarled vocals and powerful guitar (even if good thrash riffs are in short supply) has a vitality and edge to it that has been noticably missing from this band for years,
As I mentioned before, it's very solid. There are few great songs, but no bad ones. Some particular standouts include the opener "Sleepwalker," which is an absolute beast, the shredfests of "Amerikhastan" and "Burnt Ice," and the guitar solos in, well, pretty much all the other songs. In the context of everything else, even the pointless "A Tout Le Monde" is tolerable.
Dave sounds as good (or bad, depending on what you think of his distinctive voice) as he ever has, and the lyrics are, for the most part, pretty good. "Sleepwalker" is a bit cheesy, and I could do without the almost constant references to the Book of Revelation (Dave must really think the world's about to end), but then again, Megadeth lyrics have always been rather hit or miss.
A word about the solos: they destroy worlds. Megadeth might not be churning out the killer riffs they used to, but the lead guitar work on this album almost makes up for that. The solos are plentiful and face-melting - what more could you ask for?
Bottom line: I still long for the Killing is My Business through Rust in Peace days, but I think it's pretty clear those days are over. I'm glad Megadeth has finally found a way to sound good doing something different. This is the album they've been trying to make since Risk fell flat, and while it's not the old Megadeth, it sure as hell is the best the new Megadeth has ever done.