Less than a minute into United Abominations opening track, "Sleepwalker," Dave Mustaine and Megadeth make their intentions clear: to deliver nothing less than a jarring, shocking and absolutely awe-inspiring rude awakening to the heavy metal community. A classically tinged intro that instantly recognizable, nerve-rattling, gut-wrenching chug-chug that unmistakable, sneering wail and then BAM: Wake Up, Heavy Metal Masses! Wake Up, Dead! Megadeth is back to spark your mind and stir your soul with a shot of adrenaline that forces you to react. United Abominations possesses an arsenal of weapons sharpened and honed like no heavy metal album before it. The venomous raw aggression of Killing is My Business...And Business is Good!, the political bite and bile of Peace Sells...But Who's Buying?, the haunting darkness of So Far, So Good...So What!, the razor-blade mega-riffing of Rust in Peace, the sheer song-craft of Countdown to Extinction and the personal-demon-exorcism of Youthanasia and Cryptic Writings all coalesce into a career landmark album.
"It's kind of a defibrillator for the metal community," Mustaine says with his trademark grin. "Somebody's got to step up to the plate, play solos again, and play heavy rhythms that are actually recorded live in the studio -- because it ain't the same six seconds pasted 300 times. Somebody had to do it again." And who better than one of the men who invented the style? A genre born of the marriage of AC/DC, Led Zeppelin, the New Wave of British Heavy Metal and punk rock whose influence continues to dominate. Writing in the New York Times of a recent Megadeth concert, Ben Ratliff noted, "Mr. Mustaine was one of speed-metal's originators, and his double-time riffs are propulsive bending over his guitar, long blond tresses hanging down, he gives his solos the direct feeling of wrestling with the music as he plays it, with some chaos and aggression" (9/30/06).
Mustaine's fingerprints are all over a particular style of attacking the guitar, of opening your mouth to speak the truth that's on your mind regardless of consequence, of forging ahead and overcoming obstacles. This is a man that people who have felt the sting of rejection and the sorrow of failure have rallied behind for decades. After a brief experimentation with more commercial leaning material on the aptly titled Risk, Mustaine began a steady climb to reclaim his crown with The World Needs a Hero and the critically hailed tour-de-force that was 2004's The System Has Failed. What began as a solo project concluded as the answer to every true Mega-fan's prayers. As Revolver hailed, "The System Has Failed is Megadeth's most vengeful, poignant and musically complex offering since 1992's Countdown to Extinction...it's clear that are not just back, they're paranoid, pissed and motivated to destroy" (September 2004). And now United Abominations, with the Drover brothers (guitarist Glen and drummer Shawn) and bassist James LoMenzo delivering top-notch performances, Megadeth has reached a new peak.
"It's really invigorating to go back to playing thrash and speed metal," enthuses Mustaine. "I started playing this type of music because I loved the way it made me feel. When I started the turnaround with The World Needs a Hero and The System Has Failed, it was obvious this was going to be where the buck stops." With worldwide sales close to twenty million, a website that was arguably the first true rock 'n' roll destination on the Internet and several releases universally considered to be among the best metal records of all time and his acclaimed cross-country Gigantour festival tour that he created and headlined in 2005 and 2006. Mustaine is a true legend. He conceived a band that would become the most technically proficient of the "Big Four" of thrash on a cross-country bus trip fueled by a desire to stake his claim.
That band continues to innovate and inspire all over United Abominations songs like "Pray for Blood" and "You're Dead." Rap-rock is dead. Nu-metal is gone. And after the people get their hands on United Abominations, all of the over-processed, computer sounding garbage clogging heavy metal's arteries is about to go extinct. United Abominations benefits tremendously from the true-to-life performances (blisters and all) captured in several recording sessions with long-time Megadeth cohort Jeff Balding and legendary metal-maven Andy Sneap. "We were in the studio and Glen had put his rhythms down on 'Sleepwalker.' And Andy said to me, 'You know you don't really need to put your rhythm down there,'" Mustaine recalls. "And I said, 'Oh yeah I do. My rhythm style is totally different from anybody's.' And as soon as I started playing, he goes, 'That's right! It's an old-school digging in, innit?' And I said, 'Yeah Andy. That's it.'" Mustaine's gift for outspokenly critiquing the slow moral decay of society is stronger than ever, from the Book of Revelations-themed "Blessed are the Dead" to the sure-to-stir-conversation "Amerikhastan," a purely fictional song inspired by the Fox Network's Emmy winning series "24," featuring Keifer Sutherland. "If you have the goods musically, you can say whatever you want, and [on this album] I basically said it," states the man who once covered the Democratic National Convention for MTV News. "I said how I feel about the United Nations. I said how I feel about the New World Order. I said how I feel about the ignorance and apathy of our fathers right now that are leading our country who are just letting everything be taken away from us." "It's OK to practice freedom of speech, assembly, the press, religion, except when it comes to making you unpopular," Mustaine says with a particular pointedness. "When you take a stand for what's right you often become unpopular. I'm not a really popular guy. I may be semi-famous but I'm really more infamous than famous." With United Abominations, it's clear Megadeth have arrived at their finest hour, as illustrated by the near-deafening rattle of the guitar-tones, the overt blunt force of the lyrics, the complex yet catchy mechanics of the song-writing. "I know there are some people who are prejudiced against this type of music," Mustaine says. "But I'm ready to get out there and see what the response is going to be like from the public. "I can say that I have absolutely made my best Megadeth record, ever."