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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)