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There Was A King, An Evil King... - 85%

Twisted_Psychology, July 1st, 2009

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.

Pros:
1) The new line-up sounds great together
2) Great song variety
3) The lyrics have their intriguing moments

Cons:
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"