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Almost on par with Rust In Peace - 97%

MegaHassan, November 5th, 2008

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.

Stand-out tracks:

Sleepwalker
Washington Is Next
Play For Blood
Burnt Ice
You're Dead
United Abominations