Released: 2007, Roadrunner Records
Reviewer: Metal-Rules.com Staff
A new Megadeth album is something that just about every metalhead has an opinion on. As with other 'monumetal' releases, we opened up the floor to all Metal Rules staff to allow them to voice their opinion in a combined staff review. UNITED ABOMINATIONS is the first recorded with Eidolon brothers Glen Drover (guitar) and Shawn Drover (drums) and the band's 11th studio album. Bassist James Lomenzo is also new to the band. Megadeth's previous album, THE SYSTEM HAS FAILED (2004) was the first after Dave announced he was putting Megadeth to rest. Thankfully he did not as that album was hearlded as a triumphant return to form by both fans and many critics. Now, three years later, the mighty Mustaine is back with UNITED ABOMINATIONS. ...and what does the staff of Metal Rules have to say about it? Read on to see how each of us rate the album.
I bought UNITED ABOMINATIONS the day it came out in the stores and it’s been on repeat in my car ever since. It's not up to the intensity level of THE SYSTEM HAS FAILED, which of course was not up there with what I consider to be the bands 2 best albums – PEACE SELLS...BUT WHO’S BUYING (1986) and RUST IN PEACE (1990). UNITED ABOMINATIONS comes in somewhere around the likeability level of a YOUTHANASIA or a COUNTDOWN TO EXTINCTION meaning it's a solid album but offers nothing new...which is odd considering that Mustaine has at his disposal the two main dudes from Eidolon! Neither of them stands out but they do shine for what they do. Dave clearly has a firm hold on the reins, and I suppose that's only right. However, when Marty came on board, I remember thinking “holy shit”...but with these new guys, it sounds like they are along for the ride. The overly politicized lyrics can get a bit tiresome, mainly when they are spoken and go on too long since it sometimes feels like we're being preached to. It's not that I don't or do agree with Dave's opinions; it's just not delivered as tactfully as usual. Although the album is different from THE SYSTEM HAS FAILED, the two are pretty much equally enjoyable. It's very cool when one of your all-time favorite bands is on track and staying the course. The better moments on the album include the thrashy “Sleepwalker”, the catchy “Gears of War”, the driving pace in “Washington is Next!” with it's melodic chorus, and of course all the ripping lead guitars that are in abundance throughout the album. The only unnecessary song is the redone version of “A Toute Le Monde”…having Christina Scabbia making a guest appearance on the song and in the video is interesting, but her talents would have been better used in a new song as a duet with Dave.
Dave Mustaine returns once again with record #2 post arm injury. While THE SYSTEM HAS FAILED was an entertaining record that showed Mustaine was getting back into the groove, UNITED ABOMINATIONS is a full-on band record. I don’t know if the Drover brothers and James Lomenzo lit a fire under Dangerous Dave’s ass or what, but this album is a much angrier, heavier beast than SYSTEM was. Prior to release many fans had already heard “Sleepwalker” and “Washington Is Next” live on the band’s Gigantour and their arena tour with Heaven & Hell. Both are heavy speedsters that show Mustaine can still write a catchy heavy metal song. The rest of the album easily stands up with quality riffs all around, and the trademark trade-off soloing from Mustaine and Glen Drover. My main problem with Megadeth, and it’s not a major one, is that the songs are heavy in spite of Mustaine’s writing. While it’s been improving over the last three albums, he can’t seem to shake the habit he gained in the ‘90s of writing choruses that are too melodic. Dave – at this point, you’re probably not going to get a ton of radio play, just let ‘em rip, OK? That gripe aside, UNITED ABOMINATIONS is a damn enjoyable album. Yeah, it’s not back to RUST IN PEACE, but I think we should all know better than to expect that now. Even if the band never reaches that pinnacle again, I don’t care. Excellent working-man’s heavy metal is fine with me, and on UNITED ABOMINATIONS, Megadeth delivers.
Hanntu Rating: 4/5
This is a rather mixed bag, and I hardly know where to begin. First of all, it is undoubtedly ‘Megadeth’ and no question about that. One might be tempted to say that it is even RUST-era Megadeth, although that might be going a little too far. However, I feel it is much better than anything they have done from RISK onwards. The guitar work is slightly repetitive, with the rolling circular riffing that Dave Mustaine made his own. They sound heavy and crushing, but they don’t cut through. The solos are uncharacteristically unfocused, not technical or fast, just…generic? The songwriting, as evidenced by the song titles are politically charged, and Mustaine with his snarl and sneer has never sounded better. In fact, I think his singing on UNITED ABOMINATIONS just about beats all the others in terms of singing. Interlaced with audio samples of news-style bulletins designed to keep the listener’s attention, this is classic, angry Megadeth. It’s just a pity the guitars are so lacking in presence, and the riffs just fade from memory about 5 seconds after listening. However I have to say this is a very good album, certainly up there in the pantheon of great ’Deth albums, and perhaps even one of the albums of the year. Megadeth have to get some credit, and Mustaine in particular, after announcing that the band would be re-formed in 2004, has certainly pulled his shit together. Songs like ‘Sleepwalker’ and ‘Blessed are the Dead’ would walk into RUST IN PEACE, and on repeated listens, the album just grows on you. Too bad that their two highly publicised pre-release songs, ‘A Tout le Monde’ and ‘Gears of War’ are nowhere up to standard. ‘Gears of War’ is just tepid, with a truly crap chorus, but it’s ‘Hangar 18’ compared to the Cristina Scabbia version of ‘A Tout le Monde’. Her insipid vocals add nothing to a song that was pretty bad back in 1994. A publicity stunt that could have worked out better? Certainly spoils what would be quite a solid record. Judging from the excitement in the forums, with the fanboys and the booboys locking horns, Megadeth still have it in them to get people’s hearts beating, whichever side of the fence you’re on. For me, this is a good solid album, and one that you will be well advised to pick up.
It shouldn’t really surprise anyone that the new Megadeth album is merely all right. The glory days of RUST IN PIECE, COUNTDOWN TO EXTINCTION, and even YOUTHANASIA are long gone. When was the last time that a classic band with a career spanning more than twenty years has truly released another seminal record that resurrected its once high stature? Few, if any, examples spring to mind. However, like THE SYSTEM HAS FAILED, UNITED ABOMINATIONS has glimmers of the sound that fans are salivating for. The first several tracks, “Sleepwalker,” “Washington is Next!,” and “Never Walk Alone…A Call To Arms,” all seem to contain riffs and song structures reminiscent of classic days, possibly blended with a little flavor of the YOUTHANASIA or CRYPTIC WRITINGS more reigned in style. This promising beginning, though, is quickly derailed by songs like “Gears of War,” which is total drudgery, or the pointless redo of “A Tout Le Monde,” featuring the vocals of Lacuna Coil’s Cristina Scabbia (a more flagrant attempt at commercial success has rarely been seen). Although most of the songs try to stay heavy, and they all have dexterous guitar soloing, they generally seem to fall flat. There is little that distinguishes one song from the next, making it hard to latch onto anything that will be lasting for the listener. Dave Mustaine’s lyrics that once felt angry, vital, and genuine, are replaced on this record with something that feels trite. References to Halliburton in 2007 seem so five years ago, and where the songs of the past felt like rallying, war cries, these new compositions feel like the propaganda of a middle-aged activist. After watching Dave cry in a documentary, and reading his whimpering messages to the fans over the last several years, it’s hard to find his vocal snarls convincing. Still, the album is far from the atrociousness perpetrated by the likes of RISK or THE WORLD NEEDS A HERO. Unlike many other aging metal outfits, you can tell that Mustaine clearly wants to deliver something to the fans worthy of the Megadeth legacy. This album is not an attempt reinvention, but rather a noble attempt at nostalgia that simply falls short of its aim.