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Megadeth: United Abominations (remaster + bonus track)

It always feels a little strange to assess the musical worth of an album when the main person behind it has much bigger issues on their plate, and with his recent throat cancer diagnosis, it’s fair to suggest that Megadeth’s Dave Mustaine has much more to focus on right now than whether I rate his United Abominations album and my thoughts are with him as he fights to return to full health. Reissue campaigns are, however, long in the planning, so there’s little doubt that the timing of this three album retrospective of the band’s Roadrunner years is nothing more than coincidental.

The earliest of the trio, United Abominations, was initially released in 2007 and in the ever shifting line-up world of Megadeth found singer and guitarist Mustaine joined by brothers Glen (guitar) and Shawn (drums) Drover alongside much travelled bassist James Lomenzo (White Lion, David Lee Roth, Black Label Society and many more). Glen, who also has links with King Diamond and Testament, was a strong choice of guitar partner, combining well with Mustaine as the pair went some way to rekindling the classic Megadeth thrash sound from their Rust In Peace era. Coming off the back of a slew of albums - Risk, The World Needs A Hero, The System Has Failed - viewed as somewhat uneven in quality (although the last in that list was a strong effort), the crunch and grind of “Sleepwalker” was welcome. Immediately Mustaine’s rasping vocal attack is given a strong base through the aggressive production from the man himself alongside Andy Sneap. And with “Washington Is Next” backing the bristling introduction through an Iron Maiden like guitar line that weaves its way between a proud double kick drum assault and controlled but still dangerous guitar attack, business is indeed good.

Where things aren’t so strong is, as has often been the case in the Megadeth catalogue, the direction in which Mustaine chooses to aim his lyrical ire. Politics are never far away from this songwriter’s mind but with clumsy, clunky, questionably xenophobic nonsense like “Amerikhastan” outdone by the misguided and misinformed “United Abominations”, taking either seriously is either a bad idea or quite frightening. The staccato pummel of “You’re Dead” gets things back on track, the intent and anger this band can use as their main weapon thoroughly locked and loaded, while “Blessed Are The Dead” does a good job of injecting a little more melody without losing focus. Whether we really needed a reworking of the Youthanasia track “A Tout Le Monde (Set Me Free)” with Cristina Scabbia of Lacuna Coil adding co-vocals, I’m not so sure. The bonus cut included here is a cover of Led Zeppelin’s “Out On The Tiles” and while Megadething a classic like this is an interesting exercise, in the end it makes for an odd bedfellow with the rest of the album and falls well short of the original.

I’ve been fortunate enough to be able to assess both the CD and vinyl versions of this reissue and I have to say that while the CD does an excellent job of revitalising the sound and attack of the original - thanks to a remaster by producer Ted Jensen (GnR, Mastodon, Machine Head) it’s the vinyl that really breathes new life into United Abominations. And while the artwork may not have hit the spot with Megadeth’s fans, the well presented gatefold sleeve compliments the music nicely.

Along with its predecessor, The System Has Failed, the United Abominations album was a good return to form from Megadeth and it stands up reasonably well over a decade down the line. Some of Mustaine’s lyrical musings may take a little of the shine off a fine set of songs but musically the band were on an undoubtedly firm footing.

Track Listing
1. Sleepwalker
2. Washington Is Next!
3. Never Walk Alone… A Call to Arms
4. United Abominations
5. Gears of War
6. Blessed Are the Dead
7. Play for Blood
8. Á Tout le Monde (Set Me Free) (featuring Cristina Scabbia of Lacuna Coil)
9. Amerikhastan
10. You’re Dead
11. Burnt Ice
CD Bonus Track
12. Out on the Tiles

Added: July 19th 2019
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: Megadeth online
Hits: 1182
Language: english

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