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 – Rammstein / Zeit (2022)

Germany’s own Neue Deutsche Härte institution wasted no time during the pandemic and is back in action with their fantastic eight full-length opus.

Driven by a growing need to fill the void created by the postponement of their tour, Germany’s own Neue Deutsche Härte institution Rammstein began writing new music during the initial COVID-19 lockdown, culminating now in 2022 with the release of the amazing Zeit, or “time” in English, the eighth studio album in their undisputed career and the follow-up to their 2019 critically acclaimed self-titled album. Recorded at Studios La Fabrique, produced by the band together with Olsen Involtini, and featuring a classy artwork depicting vocalist Till Lindemann, guitarists Richard Z. Kruspe and Paul Landers, bassist Oliver Riedel, keyboardist Christian “Flake” Lorenz and drummer Christoph Schneider walking down a staircase connected to the Trudelturm, a monument dedicated to aerial research located at Aerodynamic Park in Adlershof, Berlin (and by the way, the photo was taken by Canadian musician Bryan Adams), Zeit brings to our ears Rammstein’s trademark sound, creativity and energy, positioning it as one of the best albums of the year hands down.

Armee der Tristen (or “army of the dreary” in English) is pure Rammstein from the very first second, with Christian and Christoph generating a beautiful, melancholic atmosphere perfect for Till’s unique vocals, and after such hard-hitting start it’s time for the band to mesmerize our senses with the dark and heavy ballad Zeit, with Richard and Paul extracting minimalist but at the same time piercing riffs form their guitars. That obscure vibe goes on in Schwarz (“black”), with the rumbling bass by Oliver sounding even heavier than before, not to mention the massive, pounding drums by Christoph; and let’s get the party started with the headbanging tune Giftig (“toxic”), spearheaded by the machine-like kitchen by Oliver and Christoph while Till is on absolute fire on vocals, resulting in a great depiction of the band’s trademark Neue Deutsche Härte. Zick Zack (“snip snip”) not only has one of the funniest videos of the year, but the music is fantastic and catchy, and the lyrics are a thing of beauty if you understand German, of course. I bet it will sound superb when played live, whereas a background choir ignites the fats-paced, electrifying OK (the acronym for “ohne kondom”, or “without a condom”), with Till delivering his usual vocalizations accompanied by the wicked keys by Christian and the industrialized riffage by the band’s guitar duo.

Back to a more serious, somber mode, it’s time for Meine Tränen (“my tears”), another solid creation by Rammstein that alternates between slower moments and heavier, more epic passages, feeling dense and grim until the very last second; followed by Angst (“fear”), by far my favorite song of the album, bringing to our avid ears the band’s hammering beats and slashing guitars, all spiced up by another demented performance by Till on vocals giving life to the song’s austere words. No one will stand still to such banger, no doubt about that. And it looks like the band will keep crushing our skulls with their Industrial Metal in Dicke Titten (“fat tits”) as if the band was playing it on an assembly line, also displaying some ethereal moments led by Christian’s keys, resulting in a multi-layered composition that will surely become a fan-favorite. Lügen (“lies”) is most probably the weakest or less intense of all songs from the album, not as powerful as its predecessors, where Christian’s keys are amazing as usual but the vocal effects are somewhat irritating (therefore stealing some of the song’s punch), and lastly we have Adieu (“farewell”), a stunning farewell by the band (which makes me wonder if this is going to be their last album ever) where the music is deep, emotive and heavy just the way we like it, and with all band members offering Till exactly what he needs to shine on vocals one final time.

Such insane album of Neue Deutsche Härte infused with Industrial Metal and Rock can be enjoyed in full on Spotify, or you can also purchase your favorite version of it by clicking HERE, adding to your personal collection another avalanche of awesomeness by the one and only Rammstein. Also, don’t forget to give the guys a shout on Facebook and on Instagram, and to subscribe to their YouTube channel for more of their unique videos. Just like high quality wine, Rammstein keeps getting better and better as time passes by, but always remember that time waits for no one, and instead of wasting your time with bad music simply hit play on Zeit and be a much happier person to the sound of Rammstein’s unparalleled creations.

Best moments of the album: Zick Zack, OK, Angst and Adieu.

Worst moments of the album: Lügen.

Released in 2022 Universal Music

Track listing
1. Armee der Tristen 3:25
2. Zeit 5:21
3. Schwarz 4:18
4. Giftig 3:08
5. Zick Zack 4:04
6. OK 4:03
7. Meine Tränen 3:57
8. Angst  3:44
9. Dicke Titten 3:38
10. Lügen 3:49
11. Adieu 4:39

Band members
Till Lindemann – lead vocals
Richard Z. Kruspe – lead guitar, backing vocals
Paul Landers – rhythm guitar, backing vocals
Oliver Riedel – bass guitar
Christian “Flake” Lorenz – keyboards, samples, synthesizers
Christoph Schneider – drums, percussion

Album Review – Rammstein / Rammstein (2019)

A magnificent lecture in Neue Deutsche Härte from the bottom of the flaming hearts of the pioneers of the genre.

Since the band’s inception in 1994 in the stunning German city of Berlin, Neue Deutsche Härte six-man institution Rammstein has been shaking the foundations of the earth with their unparalleled fusion of classic Industrial Metal and contemporary Heavy Metal, all spiced up of course by their controversial lyrics (most of the time in their mother tongue German), their industrial-inspired attire and their incendiary live performances. And it was just like that from their debut album Herzeleid, released in 1995, until their 2009 release Liebe Ist Für Alle Da, before the band went on an unprecedented hiatus that left their fans wondering if the band would ever get back in action to crush our senses with their wicked creations.

Fortunately for all of us, fans of the crazy and electrifying music blasted by lead vocalist Till Lindemann, lead guitarist Richard Z. Kruspe, rhythm guitarist Paul Landers, bassist Oliver Riedel, keyboardist Christian “Flake” Lorenz and drummer Christoph Schneider (a lineup that has remained unchanged throughout the band’s existence, by the way), Rammstein have just returned now in 2019 better than ever with their untitled seventh studio album, also known by many as Rammstein, their first studio album in a decade, bringing to our avid ears everything we’ve learned to love in their music through the years and more. Featuring a minimalist and captivating artwork by Rocket & Wink, the band’s brand new masterpiece offers an amalgamation of their past, present and future, with elements from all of their albums such as Sehnsucht and Mutter, without sounding repetitive or outdated; quite the contrary, the entire album simply rocks.

The album couldn’t have started in a more brilliant way than with their newborn anthem Deutschland (or “Germany” in their mother tongue), bringing forward the perfect fusion of electronic and metal music right from the very first second. Its backing vocals will definitely mesmerize you, while Mr. Lindemann leads his industrial horde in this passionate ode to their homeland. Moreover, Christian is also sensational with his keys and synths, and I’m not even going to talk about the song’s official video, which is in my opinion one of the best videos ever made in the history of music. Radio is another classic and powerful depiction of what Neue Deutsche Härte is all about, with Richard and Paul slashing their strings beautifully and putting us to dance together with the band, also featuring a chorus perfect for singing along with them even if your German is extremely rudimentary. Then it’s time for The Academic Choir and the Symphony Orchestra of the National Television and Radio Company of Belarus, Minsk to add a touch of epicness to the bold and violent Industrial Metal tune Zeig Dich (“show yourself”), where Richard, Paul and Oliver are on fire with their stringed weapons, while Christoph pounds his drums just the way we like it and Mr. Lindemann is once again flawless with his demented vocals.

Ausländer (“foreigner”) is by far the most disco-dancing song of the album, boosted by the band’s trademark riffs and beats and its acid and fun official video (which is another work-of-art). As a matter of fact, Rammstein are so good in what they do they’re capable of making metalheads enjoy dance music, and pay good attention to the song’s lyrics as they’re sung in several languages like French, Italian and English. It’s time to get heavier and more immoral than ever (something those German guys know how to do to perfection) with Sex, with Oliver and Christoph dictating the song’s violent rhythm. In the end, you’ll either crack your neck banging your head or have some wild sex while listening to it, both being highly recommended activities, of course. And the Belarusian orchestra returns for another round of majestic sounds in Puppe (“doll”), the most obscure and vile of all songs, with the vocals by Mr. Lindemann exhaling anger, fear and anguish while Christoph shows no mercy for his drums.

The romantic and enfolding Was Ich Liebe (“what I love”) is another great song showcasing rumbling bass lines, rhythmic beats and the always whimsical keys by Christian, and by far the one with the most melodic guitar lines of the entire album; whereas in the touching Diamant (“diamond”) the music remains utterly ominous while Mr. Lindemann darkly recites its lyrics, feeling as melancholic, beautiful and dense as it can be, or in other words, it’s absolutely awesome. Then Christian takes the lead in the modern Industrial Metal song Weit Weg (“far away”), where a delicate but at the same time potent background provides all Mr. Lindemann needs to thrive on vocals, with the riffs and solos by Richard and Paul bringing even more electricity to the overall result, followed by Tattoo, which kind of sounds taken from one of their previous albums. Put differently, it’s pure Neue Deutsche Härte tailored for the band’s diehard fans, with Christoph hammering our heads violently with his unstoppable, mechanized beats, while the song’s guitar riffs will cut your skin deep. Hence, I would simply love to listen to those Teutonic metallers playing this neck-breaking tune live. And lastly, Oliver makes the earth tremble with his bass punches in Hallomann (“Helloman” / “Announcer”), closing the album on a high note with the music flowing smoothly until its climatic and serene ending.

In a nutshell, anything I say about the brand new opus by the one and only Rammstein won’t be enough to describe its density, depth and energy. We’re facing the best rock and metal album of the year, my friends, there’s no doubt about that, and you can enjoy each and every song from such distinct release directly from the band’s official YouTube channel or on Spotify, and of course buy your copy of this multi-layered feast of top-of-the-line Neue Deutsche Härte from your favorite retailer by clicking HERE. As a matter of fact, I guess the best words that can be used to depict the music found in Rammstein are the ones already sung by Mr. Lindemann & Co. in the opening track of the album. “Deutschland / Mein Herz in Flammen / Will dich lieben und verdammen / Deutschland / Dein Atem kalt / So jung / Und doch so alt / Deutschland!”

Best moments of the album: Deutschland, Radio, Zeig Dich, Puppe and Tattoo.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2019 Universal Music

Track listing
1. Deutschland 5:23
2. Radio 4:37
3. Zeig Dich 4:15
4. Ausländer 3:51
5. Sex 3:56
6. Puppe 4:33
7. Was Ich Liebe 4:29
8. Diamant 2:34
9. Weit Weg 4:20
10. Tattoo 4:11
11. Hallomann 4:11

Band members
Till Lindemann – lead vocals
Richard Z. Kruspe – lead guitar, backing vocals
Paul Landers – rhythm guitar, backing vocals
Oliver Riedel – bass guitar
Christian “Flake” Lorenz – keyboards, samples, synthesizers
Christoph Schneider – drums, percussion

Guest musicians
The Academic Choir and the Symphony Orchestra of the National Television and Radio Company of Belarus, Minsk – strings, choir on “Zeig Dich” and “Puppe”
Meral Al-Mer – backing vocals on “Deutschland” and “Tattoo”
Carla Bruhn – backing vocals on “Hallomann”

Album Review – Megadeth / Dystopia (2016)

And the dystopian world portrayed in the brand new album by the iconic Dave Mustaine and his Thrash Metal army is beyond awesome.

Rating2

megadeth_dystopiaDys·to·pi·a
\disˈtōpēə\
noun. An imagined place or state in which everything is unpleasant or bad, typically a totalitarian or environmentally degraded one.

It’s this hopeless but unfortunately actual view of our decaying society that inspired the one and only metal lord Dave Mustaine and his Thrash/Speed Metal infantry Megadeth to compose Dystopia, the fifteenth studio album in their magnificent career and, in my opinion, their absolute best since their 2009 album Endgame. The reason behind that? Well, Dystopia is a rip-roaring feast of lancinating riffs, crushing beats and spectacularly austere lyrics, all led by one of the most influential, unrelenting and technical musicians in the history of Heavy Metal. In other words, Mr. Dave Mustaine nailed it once again for our total delectation.

Let’s say that this remarkable achievement also comes partially from the band’s  two new members, the awesome Brazilian guitarist Kiko Loureiro (Angra), who took the six-strings from the also amazing Chris Broderick, and especially the insane American drummer Chris Adler (Lamb of God), replacing longtime drummer Shawn Drover. While Kiko added a lot of feeling to Megadeth’s distinct guitar lines, Chris simply came smashing everything and everyone with his groovy and bestial technique, and the final result is what every single “MegaFan” in the world was expecting from this iconic band from the United States.

The smooth vocals by Jordanian singer Farah Siraj kick off Mustaine’s dystopian world in the magnificently trenchant chant The Threat is Real, a killer traditional Megadeth song with the trademark piercing riffs by Dave and his always politicized lyrics (“See the burnished images / Of a crest fallen nation see / Violent conditioning, cause the nature of the enemy / You’re terminal lack of vision / Blinded, I see no light / A chronic lack of perspective / Their cancer now eats us alive”). I can’t wait to see this played live, and don’t forget to check its awesome animated video because Vic Rattlehead gets his revenge in the official video (including references to some of their old albums) for the following tune, the superb Dystopia, with highlights to its strong feeling of desolation and its thoughtful lyrics (“Demoralized and overmastered people think / The quickest way to end a war is lose / Dictatorship ends starting with tyrannicide / You must destroy the cancer at its root”). Not only its initial riff is outstanding, but its chorus is so catchy I’m sure it will be one of the best moments of their future live performances.

Fatal Illusion, which brings lyrics about a person who is a misfit in society and ends up getting taken before the judicial system (“Lost inside the system, locked away without a key / No one will ever miss a menace to society / A gross lack of potential, bad decisions made in spite / A touchy hairpin trigger and such a wasted life”), clearly showcases the enormous positive impact Kiko and Chris had on the overall result of the album in terms of groove and complexity; while Death from Within, another dark and bitter composition by “MegaDave”, gets closer to what he did in albums such as The System Has Failed and United Abominations. Moreover, Chris is simply pounding his drums with endless anger, in a classy exhibit of how good heavy drumming is supposed to be. And in Bullet to the Brain, an eerie intro morphs into a heavy and psychological tune, blending old school and modern Megadeth while focusing on the guitar riffs and solos by Dave and Kiko, with Dave providing an excellent chorus to be screamed along with him.

megadeth 2016Post American World is perhaps the darkest of all songs, with many elements from their classic “Symphony of Destruction” added to its musicality. Dave sends a strong message to his countrymen, whereas bassist David Ellefson keeps delivering his precise and thunderous bass lines, just as expected from such an amazing musician. Then guest singer Farah Siraj returns with her gentle voice in Poisonous Shadows, a pensive and melancholic aria that will please most fans of the band where Kiko Loureiro displays some of his abilities on the piano, and guest musician Charlie Judge takes care of the orchestrations amidst the song’s gripping riffs.

The beautiful instrumental tune Conquer or Die! sets the stage for the heavy as hell Lying in State, my favorite of all tracks by far. This kick-ass chant will penetrate your mind and soul and crush you mercilessly, with Chris and David demolishing everything that crosses their path with their boisterous drums and resonant bass lines, respectively. Needless to say how violent and acid the lyrics are in this awesome Thrash Metal anthem, right? Anyway, in the high-octane thrashy tune The Emperor, the biggest question is who the lucky person being “honored” by its lyrics is (“You look so perfect, but everybody knows / Their petrified to say the emperor has no clothes / So bloody perfect, but everybody knows / Their just so petrified, the emperor has no clothes”). Even if you have no clue about the answer, just enjoy this straightforward Megadeth tune, where Dave steals the spotlight with yet another intense performance. And closing Dystopia in solid fashion, Megadeth offer us their flawless cover version for Foreign Policy, one of the biggest hits by Fear, a Hardcore Punk band from Los Angeles, California (take a listen at the original version HERE).

In a nutshell, if there were any fans still a bit skeptical about the direction the music by Megadeth was taking after the good but controversial Super Collider was released in 2013, I’m pretty sure their fears are completely gone with Dystopia. As aforementioned, Dave Mustaine didn’t disappoint at all, providing his legion of loyal admirers another marvelous chapter in the band’s history. Thus, it’s sad to realize we’re actually living in a dystopia, where everything surrounding us seems to be tending towards a tragic ending. However, at least the dystopian world created by the iconic Dave Mustaine and his Thrash Metal army is indeed beyond awesome and will surely make our lives less miserable for years to come.

Best moments of the album: The Threat is Real, Dystopia, Lying in State and The Emperor.

Worst moments of the album: None, of course. This is Megadeth at their finest.

Released in 2016 Universal Music

Track listing
1. The Threat is Real 4:22
2. Dystopia 5:00
3. Fatal Illusion 4:16
4. Death from Within 4:48
5. Bullet to the Brain 4:29
6. Post American World 4:25
7. Poisonous Shadows 6:02
8. Conquer or Die! (Instrumental) 3:33
9. Lying in State 3:34
10. The Emperor 3:54
11. Foreign Policy (Fear cover) 2:28 

Japanese edition bonus track
12. Me Hate You 3:44

Spotify bonus track
12. Melt the Ice Away (Budgie cover) 3:28

iTunes & Best Buy edition bonus tracks
8. Look Who’s Talking 4:14
12. Last Dying Wish 3:49

Band members
Dave Mustaine – lead vocals, lead, rhythm and acoustic guitars
Kiko Loureiro – lead, rhythm and acoustic guitars, piano on “Poisonous Shadows”
David Ellefson – bass guitar, backing vocals
Chris Adler – drums

Additional musicians
Farah Siraj – guest vocals on “The Threat is Real” and “Poisonous Shadows”
Charlie Judge – orchestral arrangements on “Poisonous Shadows”
Miles Doleac – voice-over in “Conquer or Die!”
Steve Wariner – steel guitar
Chris Rodriguez – backing vocals