Megadeth - _United Abominations_
(Roadrunner, 2007)
by: Jeremy Ulrey (9 out of 10)
Jesus. For someone who's taken to coming off like an altar boy in recent interviews, all capitulated and talking brotherhood and atoning for divisive relationships, good ol' Dave has certainly reverted to an atavistic bloodlust on _United Abomination_'s opening moments:

"I should be calling collect from jail
For the things I commit each night in my head
Like last night in my sleep I got to snuff you
But then I woke up again, safe in my little bed"

So much for live and let live. But whatever's going on behind the scenes, I welcome Dave's atavism on a musical level. Riff-wise "Sleepwalker" has sharper teeth and more of a nasty snarl than anything since _Rust in Peace_. Alright, so let's get it out of the way up front: _United Abominations_ is the best album Megadeth have recorded since 1990's career defining effort, but depending on who you ask that may not be saying much. Fans have welcomed the return to form of _The World Needs a Hero_ and _The System Has Failed_ while simultaneously lamenting the mostly second rate songwriting, both being chalked up as well meaning failures by all but the dyed in the wool. _United Abominations_ is no _Rust in Peace_, but it's as close as we're going to get in 2007 and, truthfully, it ain't bad.

Just from the title alone you know Dave's back to his old form, throwing out one cheesy pun after another, each one all the more endearing for the simple fact that Dave seems to have no idea they're at all cheesy to begin with. Check out this humdinger from the title track: "The UN is right, you can't be any more 'un' than you are right now." Wow. I enjoy tossing about groan-inducing puns myself, but there's a self-conscious fear of ridicule at a certain level that acts as a sort of on/off switch, diverting the creativity away from embarrassing trains of thought when in danger of truly bottoming out in awfulness. The beauty of Megadeth is that Dave doesn't have this switch: he truly seems to think shit like "answering the call / From New Yorqatar to Califarabia" is inspired stuff! Probably the best line on the entire album is the over-the-top spoken word "Hey, Jihad Joe, guess what? We're coming to get you!"

And yet, Sir Mustaine has focused that snarky, overly earnest sense of sarcastic rage like a laser into the most caustic album Megadeth have recorded in seventeen years. And as usual, Dave comes across as someone who's reasonably well read on the issues of the day but has no additional insight of his own to add to the forum. Try telling him that. Dave rants and raves in one gloriously overwrought diatribe after another like he's totally reinventing the wheel each and every time out. You know what? Whatever it takes. The enthusiasm is fucking contagious, I gotta tell you, to the extent that I'm even on board for the obvious, cynical cash-grab that is the re-recording of "A Tout le Monde" (here subtitled "Set Me Free" in an admitted attempt to woo radio programmers!). Sure, the inclusion of Cristina Scabbia (Lacuna Coil) on duet duties absolutely reeks of "gimmick" and doesn't advance the integrity of the song one iota, but Dave goes a long way toward making up for it with surprisingly inspired singing that, on that level at least, easily tops the original.

A previous single, debuted on some video game or another that I'm too Playstation-complacent to bother looking up, and which is titled in blushing retro pride "Gears of War", is nothing if not a supremely catchy if simplistic mosh staple along the lines of _RiP_'s "Take No Prisoners" or even the seminal "Wake Up Dead". Lest this effusive write up degenerate into a track-by-track lovefest, let me just synopsize a couple of quick bullet points and leave it at that:

_United Abominations_ as a whole is a well crafted valentine -- nary a duff song one -- to all the fans who waited patiently over the years while Dave Mustaine indulged some complex within himself that led him to believe he was capable of creating brilliance in any musical milieu he might have chosen to assert his presence in. Now it seems Dave has realized that not only was thrash his only penchant for talent, but that he couldn't even earn a little extra grocery money selling out, and now he's back home in the warm embrace of the loving sweat hogs who made him what he is today... and always was.

- OK, time for me to come clean on something as well: musically this is really only an 8, maybe an 8.5 on a generous day, but I'm rounding up to a 9 just on sheer goodwill alone. I harp on his shortcomings and idiosyncrasies, but damn if Dave doesn't have me in his corner and rooting for him again. Affectionate barbs and playful criticism only turn to humorless fatalism when the potential's just no longer there, and Dave has earned his keep in 2007 by no less than running a decade-long gauntlet of career missteps and boneheadedness to once again lift the yoke of greatness back onto his rejuvenated shoulders. I see the wizened visage of Dave Mustaine looking out over the field that he has sown, where the unconscionable shit that he's been peddling the world as "music" for the last decade is now fertilizing the seeds of the future, and as the sun breaks wistfully over the horizon a smile crosses Dave's face... a smile that quickly fades into a defiant sneer. Welcome back, old boy.

Contact: http://www.megadeth.com

(article published 6/23/2007)


ALBUMS
7/29/2004 B Meloon 5 Megadeth - The System Has Failed
7/14/1997 D Schinzel 8 Megadeth - Cryptic Writings
GIGS
10/5/2007 G Filicetti Megadeth / In This Moment / The Confession Nothing If Not Consistent
12/9/1999 D Rocher Megadeth / Iron Maiden Armageddon With La Vierge de Fer
8/12/1997 P Azevedo Scorpions / Megadeth / Moonspell / Cradle of Filth / Anger Porto's Own Metalfest?
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