In terms of overdue reviews, this takes the cake only because this album came out while I was keeping this blog and I've pretty much have held off since it first was released because I wanted to sit down one day and really write it. Now that the year is almost over and I want to start compiling my Best of 2007 list, it's time.
This album finally graced store shelves, as well as my CD collection, on May 15, 2007. Dave Mustaine and Company (The Drover Brothers and new and former Black Label Society bassist James Lomenzo) have formed what is, without a doubt, the single most solid and best line-up since the Rust In Peace era of Ellefson, Menza, and Friedman!
Left with the task of not only providing a great follow-up to 2004's The System has Failed, an album that, overall, was met with mixed reviews (even from me), but also to ensure that the title of Thrash Metal legends was held firmly in their grasps, the result is nothing short of incredible; The single greatest Megadeth album since Rust in Peace!
Many will find a statement like that blasphemous, but in reality, this album is the best Megadeth disc since 1990.
The album starts off with "Sleepwalker", a thrash-metal riff attack that sees Dave and Glen Drover trading guitar leads and squeezing every single insane riff they can create melting into one of the fastest and heaviest songs of 2007! Singing about what he would love to do to certain reporters in his sleep, "Sleepwalker" sets the stage for the album.
"Blessed are the Dead" focuses on the four horsemen of the apocalypse, giving way to a song that rises, builds, and releases a great solid song! The album closer, "Burnt Ice", discusses an addiction to crack and the horrors of the drug. There are some ghosts of the past; "Never Walk Alone... A Call to Arms" opens with the same riff from "Vortex" and we there is an incredible re-recording of "A Tout Le Monde (Set Me Free)" with Cristina from Lacuna Coil! It is great to not only hear and have this version, but to also have Dave reclaim it after the tragic murder done in it's name.
Dave's political views, as well as his new religious outlook, dominate a large majority of this album.
"Washington is Next!" stands as one of the best songs written by Dave Mustaine in his career, taking a cue from jazz, the song rarely stops as the song flows, using the immortal lyrics "The quiet war has begun with silent weapons / And the new slavery is to keep the people / Poor and stupid, 'Novus Ordo Seclorus" and "How can there be any logic in biological war?" The song is a burning indictment at the current state of America and contemporary society, and tears away at everything from the war on the poor to the modern political landscape of today.
At the same time, I feel now I need to discuss my own political views and the reason this could, very easily, become an essay more than a review.
Dave Mustaine has shown more of a Republican leaning with this album. But, at the same time, his overall sense of political outrage is more potent than ever and the result is nothing short of amazing. It is safe to say that when most people here the words "President Bush" or "War in Iraq", we immediately feel repulsed, and simply wait to hear what failings and fault we are to hear next. Rarely is a positive opinion of either something we want to hear, or believe.
In "Washington is Next!", Dave mentions the "culture war". " Promote sex, and war, and violence in the kindergartens / Blame the parents and teachers; it’s their fault, 'Annuit Coeptis' / Attack the church dynamic, attack the family". When we get to the lyrics, "I am a King who had a dream with no idea / What it could mean and nobody could interpret", it's difficult to determine just what Dave is referring to. The song itself is about a nuclear war and a new world order simply taking over, but at the same time, it draws basis in real life to the 9/11 terrorist attacks and the effect the U.S. Government has had on this fragile democracy of ours.
Dave Mustaine has said that this song is based on the Bible as well as his own personal beliefs, stating that he feels that America is the 8th False Throne. He states that he feels that the world is in it's final days and that Armageddon is coming close, and in Revelations 17:10, There are also seven kings. Five have fallen, one is, and the other has not yet come. And when he comes, he must continue a short time. A Biblical Scholar posting on a message board wrote this:
It speaks here of seven kings. In the beginning of the Revelation, Jesus is speaking to the seven churches but as His revelation unfolds, He makes us that have ears to hear, understand that the churches are following the foreshadowing of Israel and going after other gods just as they did. The King of the church was Jesus and now they have set up and appointed their own “kings”, there are different christ's and gospel's than the one Truth given by Christ and His Apostles, it is a “king” and a “christ” that they follow after in the lust of their flesh and the imagination of their heart.
Just as God brought them out of Egypt to serve Him and they chose to serve another god by making an idol of gold and saying that it had brought them out of Egypt and out of bondage, today, they also set up a new king that they want to serve with the flesh in a way that pleases them and not in spirit and truth.
Read the full text here.
When we arrive at "United Abominations", a proverbial can of worms are opened in terms of this. Someone from the UN dissected it better than I ever could, but basically the song praised the war in Iraq and declares that the UN is, in essence, the One World government mentioned and warned about in the Book of Revelations. I don't agree with the snippy tone he used, but he did make a ton of good points. The song itself is nothing short of amazing, offering a mix of what "Washington is Next!" has to deliver, adding a dose of heavy riffing and a bit of mid-tempo that is followed up beautifully by "Gears of War", but more on that later.
"Amerikhastan", though, throws a wrench into any argument that Dave is now hell-bent on supporting Bush. The song starts with lyrics "Recruting the ill-fated for 'The War'", it serves as a background to either America as it is, or an America where the Terrorists have won. It also mentions the horror that Bush and Cheney has done to America, as the Statue of Liberty has been tattooed as "Property of the USA, A subsidiary of Halliburton". Musically, it is beautifully arranged and offers a wonderful piece of music.
When all is said and done, politics mean nothing for this album. The very fact that my own political leanings are so far against what he says, and that I can not only listen to this album, but love it, and listen to it nearly non-stop for 6 months is a testament to not only his craft as a musician, but to his ability to write simply incredible lyrics!
This album stands tall and is a triumph to the writing ability of this band! It is amazing to sit back and listen to this album and enjoy the incredible song writing skills that are on display here. The production is top notch, everything is perfectly cued, and it is tough to argue that this album is anything less than great!
9.8 out of 10!