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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).