Album Review – Megadeth / The Sick, the Dying… and the Dead! (2022)

The sick, the dying… and the Megadeth!

Marking the longest gap between two studio albums in the band’s career since their 2016 release Dystopia, the excellent The Sick, the Dying… and the Dead! is not only the sixteenth studio album by American Thrash/Speed Metal icons Megadeth, but a bold statement that the unrelenting Mr. Dave Mustaine and his henchmen are far from calling it quits, offering us all a lecture in thrash, speed and technique split into 12 incendiary songs. Produced by Dave Mustaine and Chris Rakestraw, mastered by Ted Jensen at Sterling Sound, mixed by Josh Wilbur, displaying a classic cover art by Brent Elliott White, and with artwork, layout and design by Josh Graham at Suspended In Light, The Sick, the Dying… and the Dead! is the first Megadeth album to feature drummer Dirk Verbeuren and the second to feature guitarist Kiko Loureiro, with the bass parts originally recorded by founding bassist David Ellefson being re-recorded by Steve Di Giorgio of Testament (although the band’s current bassist is James LoMenzo) after David was dismissed from the band due to a sex scandal during the album’s recording.

Showcasing an intro inspired by the classic scene “Bring Out Your Dead” from the 1975 cult movie Monty Python and the Holy Grail, the title-track The Sick, the Dying… and the Dead! Quickly morphs into pure Megadeth to the stunning riffs by Dave and Kiko, being also perfect for screaming “Die! Die! Die!” together with “MegaDave”. Then we have Life in Hell, sounding fast and furious just the way we like it in Speed Metal with its lyrics being acid and fun at the same time (“Busted, caught red-handed again / You can’t be trusted, born to lose, you’ll never win / You’re so corrupted, you stand before us condemned / So maladjusted to the world we’re living and dying in”), not to mention how thunderous Dirk sounds on drums; followed by Night Stalkers, another one of my favorites where the band puts the pedal to the metal with Dave and Kiko being on fire with their wicked riffs, accompanied by Steve’s rumbling bass and Dirk’s pulverizing beats, all of course spiced up by a spot-on guest appearance by the one and only Ice-T, the man behind Body Count. In Dogs of Chernobyl a heavy and dark start gradually evolves into another metallic feast by Dave & Co., with its second part setting fire to the atmosphere with its razor-edged riffs, solos and beats, whereas Sacrifice sounds very similar to some of the songs from Dystopia, being very melodic and sharp and with Dave’s raspy voice being nicely supported by all backing vocals. And more of their undisputed fusion of Thrash and Speed Metal is offered to us all in Junkie, with Dave kicking some serious ass as usual with both his unique vocals and trademark riffs and solos.

After the tribalistic interlude Psychopathy, it’s time for Dave to distill his venom in Killing Time, showcasing lyrics that seem to be directed to the band’s former bassist Dave Ellefson (“Some people look at you and feel sorry / They see your beady eyes and a soul that is black / It’s clear to see, you’re a pathological liar / And your alibi was a lie, it was all just an act, and that’s a fact”); followed by Soldier On!, a headbanging extravaganza that transpires Megadeth where Dave leads his horde flawlessly, with “The Marching Metal Bastards” part at the end being ridiculously funny. Célebutante is another old school, straightforward tune by the band where Dirk and Steve are in absolute sync from start to finish, albeit presenting some really weird lyrics, while in Mission to Mars the lyrics are even weirder but for a good reason (they’re meant to be cheesy), also displaying excellent instrumental parts including its striking guitar solos. Then the incendiary shredding by Dave and Kiko ignite the closing tune We’ll Be Back, which was curiously the first single released, sounding technical, violent, fast and acid just the way we love it, or in other words, it’s simply flawless until the very end. Moreover, depending on the version of the album you acquire, there are some amazing bonus tracks waiting for you, with the best one being by far This Planet’s on Fire (Burn in Hell), originally recorded by Sammy Hagar on his 1979 album Street Machine (listen to the original version HERE), and featuring Sammy Hagar himself on vocals together with MegaDave.

You can enjoy the album in its entirety on Spotify, where by the way you’ll find the best bonus tracks in my humble opinion, but if you’re a loyal member of Megadeth’s Cyber Army you should definitely purchase your favorite version of the album by clicking HERE or HERE, always keeping an eye on the band’s official Facebook and Instagram for news, tour dates and other fun stuff by Dave and his crew. In a nutshell, The Sick, the Dying… and the Dead! couldn’t have sounded more Megadeth than this, staying loyal to the band’s original Speed Metal infused with Thrash Metal, while at the same time containing elements from all phases of their undisputed career, putting a huge smile on the faces of their old school fans and of newcomers to their metal realm. It’s an album for all of us, for all diehard metalheads out there, inspiring us to raise our horns to the sick, the dying… and the Megadeth!

Best moments of the album: The Sick, the Dying… and the Dead!, Life in Hell, Night Stalkers, Mission to Mars and We’ll Be Back.

Worst moments of the album: Célebutante.

Released in 2022 Universal Music

Track listing
1. The Sick, the Dying… and the Dead! 5:04
2. Life in Hell 4:12
3. Night Stalkers 6:38
4. Dogs of Chernobyl 6:14
5. Sacrifice 4:08
6. Junkie 3:39
7. Psychopathy 1:20
8. Killing Time 5:13
9. Soldier On! 4:54
10. Célebutante 3:51
11. Mission to Mars 5:24
12. We’ll Be Back 4:29

Digital Edition bonus tracks
13. Police Truck (Dead Kennedys cover) 2:29
14. This Planet’s on Fire (Burn in Hell) (Sammy Hagar cover) 5:04

EMP Exclusive CD bonus tracks
13. This Planet’s on Fire (Burn in Hell) (Sammy Hagar cover) 5:04
14. Take No Prisoners (live) 3:29

Target Exclusive CD bonus tracks
13. This Planet’s on Fire (Burn in Hell) (Sammy Hagar cover) 5:04
14. The Conjuring (live)* 5:49

*Mislabeled as “Dystopia” on the album track listing.

Band members
Dave Mustaine – lead vocals, lead and rhythm guitar, additional bass
Kiko Loureiro – lead guitar, backing vocals, flute on “Night Stalkers”
Dirk Verbeuren – drums

Guest musician
Steve Di Giorgio – bass (session)
Ice-T – vocals on “Night Stalkers”
Sammy Hagar – vocals on “This Planet’s on Fire (Burn in Hell)”
Brandon Ray – additional vocals
Eric Darken – percussion
Roger Lima – keyboards, effects
Luliia Tikhomirova – narration on “Dogs of Chernobyl”
Bill Elliot – voices on “Junkie”
John Clement – voices on “Soldier On!”
The Marching Metal Bastards – voices on “Soldier On!”
Maila Kaarina Rantanen – voices on “Mission to Mars”
Clint Underwood – voices on “Mission to Mars”

Album Review – Trivium / In the Court of the Dragon (2021)

It’s time to join Trivium in the court of the dragon to the sound of their magnificent new opus.

“In the court of the dragon
Death of gods and world
In the court of the dragon
You will know your worth”

After getting back on track with their two previous albums, those being the excellent The Sin and the Sentence, released in 2017, and What The Dead Men Say, released in the beginning of 2020, Orlando, Florida-based Heavy Metal unity Trivium continues to deliver their trademark fusion of violence, speed and intricacy with their newborn spawn, beautifully titled In the Court of the Dragon, the tenth studio album in their beyond solid career. Produced by Josh Wilbur and mastered by Ted Jensen at Sterling Sound, In the Court of the Dragon sounds and feels even better than its predecessors, proving the isolation during the pandemic was extremely productive for vocalist and guitarist Matt Heafy, guitarist Corey Beaulieu, bassist Paolo Gregoletto, and drummer Alex Bent, who as I always like to say elevated Trivium’s sound to a whole new level after joining the band in 2017, and in their new album he sounds even more awesome than usual.

Composed and arranged by Emperor’s own Ihsahn, X is an epic, dark and cinematic intro that warms up our senses for the fulminating In the Court of the Dragon, where Matt begins screaming the song’s powerful lyrics (“In the court of the dragon / Death of gods and world / In the court of the dragon / You will know your worth”) accompanied by the headbanging riffs and beats by Corey and Alex, whereas an imposing start morphs into sheer adrenaline in Like a Sword Over Damocles, with Matt and Corey kicking ass on the guitars while Paolo makes the earth tremble with his bass jabs. Needless to say, Alex adds tons of intricacy and feeling to this already fantastic composition, turning it into my favorite of the entire album. Then we have Feast of Fire, the second single of the album and a solid, traditional Trivium song, albeit not as powerful as the rest of the album. Then it’s time for another frantic, high-octane creation by the quartet named A Crisis of Revelation, providing an excellent balance between their heaviest side and their more melodious, clean sounds, and if played live it will surely ignite some fun mosh pits during their live concerts.

In The Shadow of the Abattoir we’re treated to a gentle beginning to the deep, clean vocals by Matt, evolving into another complex Melodic Death and Heavy Metal feast spearheaded by Alex and his unstoppable drums and spiced up by their sick guitar solos; and more of their groovy sounds are offered to us all in the neck-breaking No Way Back Just Through, with Matt once again thriving with both his clean singing and enraged roars. A massive wall of sounds will hammer your head mercilessly in Fall Into Your Hands, even heavier and more detailed than its predecessors, where Matt screams nonstop from the bottom of his heart while his bandmates add elements from Progressive, Death and even Symphonic Metal to their core sonority. It looks like the guys form Trivium wanted to offer endless heaviness in their new album, and they more than succeeded in that as From Dawn to Decadence is another bestial Metalcore tune where Matt, Corey and Paolo are in absolute sync from start to finish with their infernal riffage and bass. Lastly, closing the album we face one final round of their trademark wicked lyrics in The Phalanx (“Within the thrill, amidst the kill / One against all, soon blood will spill / We cannot wait to make your pain / We are the burn inside your brain”) amidst a hurricane of heavy sounds that lasts for stunning seven minutes.

Trivium are a band that at the same respects their past while always looking towards the future, and In the Court of the Dragon (available for a full listen on YouTube and on Spotify) is the perfect depiction of that, pointing to an even brighter future ahead of those four talented metallers who are becoming one of the most important bands of the current scene worldwide. Hence, don’t forget to follow them on Facebook, on Instagram and on YouTube for news, tour dates, and more of their sick music and videos, and if you want to add the majestic In the Court of the Dragon to your personal collection, you can purchase it from their official webstore, or click HERE for several other places where you can buy the physical or digital copy of the album. As the lyrics to the title-track say, “in the court of the dragon you will know your worth”, and if you’re there to the sound of Trivium’s new album, you can rest assured the “dragon” will provide you with exactly what you deserve.

Best moments of the album: In the Court of the Dragon, Like a Sword Over Damocles, A Crisis of Revelation and Fall Into Your Hands.

Worst moments of the album: Feast of Fire.

Released in 2021 Roadrunner Records

Track listing
1. X 1:26
2. In the Court of the Dragon 5:09
3. Like a Sword Over Damocles 5:30
4. Feast of Fire 4:18
5. A Crisis of Revelation 5:35
6. The Shadow of the Abattoir 7:11
7. No Way Back Just Through 3:53
8. Fall Into Your Hands 7:45
9. From Dawn to Decadence 4:08
10. The Phalanx 7:15

Band members
Matt Heafy – lead vocals, guitar
Corey Beaulieu – guitar, backing vocals
Paolo Gregoletto – bass guitar, backing vocals
Alex Bent – drums, percussion

Guest musician
Ihsahn – orchestration and synths on “X”

Album Review – Demon King / The Final Tyranny EP (2021)

This newly formed demonic trio aims to be one of the reigning champs of the Death Metal world with their fulminating and very technical debut EP.

Formed in 2019 in the city of Nashville, Tennessee, in the United States, Blackened Death Metal outfit Demon King is the comeback project of prominent original Enfold Darkness guitarist Matt Brown after stepping away from playing music for a number of years, now joined by technical wizards Malcolm Pugh (Inferi, A Loathing Requiem, Entheos) on bass and Jack Blackburn (Inferi, Enfold Darkness, Vital Remains) on drums. Together, this incredibly talented trio aims to be one of the reigning champs of the Death Metal world in the coming years, starting their path of devastation with their debut EP titled The Final Tyranny. Mixed by Zack Ohren at Castle Ultimate Productions, mastered by Justin Shturtz at Sterling Sound, and displaying an infernal artwork by renowned artist Justin Abraham, The Final Tyranny is strongly recommended for fans of Abigor, Arsis, Dimmu Borgir, Naglfar, Necrophagist and Old Man’s Child, among many others, providing the listener 17 minutes of undisputed dexterity, violence and rage.

We must admit Blackened Death Metal always brings us amazing, poetic lyrics, which is exactly the case in the opening track Tyrannical Reign of the Deceiver (“For ages the world did hold the coming of one / Which would usher in the era of din / And the chieftains they called upon disorder as order / Their ally for the clasp within / Multitudes surrender to him as their god”), while Jack sounds like a stone crusher from hell on drums and Malcolm hammers his metallic bass nonstop, resulting in an explosion of sounds that’s as technical and infernal as it can be. Then a sinister intro will darken the skies before the trio comes ripping with their hard-hittingTechnical Death Metal in Invoking the Spirit of Chaos, where Matt not only roars like a demonic entity, but his hellish riffage adds an extra touch of dementia to the music; and it’s time for more lunacy in the form of Technical and Blackened Death Metal in Transmutation of the Artilect, with Malcolm and Jack being absolutely thunderous and menacing with their beats and bass jabs while Matt continues to gnarl and scream rabidly in a perfect fusion of intricacy and heaviness. Lastly, even more obscure than its predecessors, The Watcher, Wreathed In Flame is a ruthless display of modern-day aggressiveness and fury, with the demonic drums by Jack being beautifully supported by the demented strings by both Matt and Malcolm, not to mention how piercing Matt’s guitar solos sound and feel.

This short and sweet display of unrelenting Blackened Death Metal by Demon King is available for purchase by clicking HERE, or from other retailers such as Amazon and Record Store Day. Also, don’t forget to follow those insane metallers on Facebook and on Instagram, and to stream their sick creations on Spotify, showing your utmost support to this newborn force of the extreme music scene. Across its four dense tracks, The Final Tyranny deftly combines and shifts on a dime between Technical Death Metal, Black Metal, and Melodic Death Metal in order to create a sound of their own, also pointing to a very interesting future ahead of the trio and, therefore, inspiring fans of Death Metal from all over the world to keep slamming into the circle pit while Matt, Malcolm and Jack show us exactly what to do when armed with their sharp instruments and their blackened hearts and souls.

Best moments of the album: Tyrannical Reign of the Deceiver and Transmutation of the Artilect.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2021 The Artisan Era Records

Track listing
1. Tyrannical Reign of the Deceiver 3:51
2. Invoking the Spirit of Chaos 4:16
3. Transmutation of the Artilect 4:31
4. The Watcher, Wreathed In Flame 5:04

Band members
Matt Brown – vocals, guitars
Malcolm Pugh – bass
Jack Blackburn – drums