Dave Mustaine set the tone for United Abominations with the well-received comeback album, The System Has Failed. So what how does the second album of MEGADETH’s second life measure up? First off, United Abominations is the most politically charged album in their career with Mustaine vehemently expressing his opinions on the current state of the world with the current wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the United Nations, terrorism, the U.S. government, etc. Just the album artwork’s allusion to the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the mass murder scene inside the U.N. displays Mustaine’s unabashed viewpoints on the subject. However, it’s probably a safe bet that one would best be served by not blindly adopting the political viewpoints of a historic flip flopper as Mustaine has proven to be.
Opening track, “Sleepwalker,” is easily the heaviest and most intense track and sounds like a compromise between Rust in Peace with the more streamlined mainstream metal approach of the early to mid-90’s material. “Washington is Next” is a proto-metal track that eases back on the throttle while maintaining an uptempo tone. The majority of the album is reminiscent of material found on Youthanasia, Cryptic Writings, and Countdown to Extinction: riffy, catchy, and polished and accessible enough to avoid being intense or abrasive. The title track sees Mustaine spouting off extremely damning criticism of the United Nations. Musically, it’s solid and catchy, even though hearing Mustaine sing the line, “United Abominations,” sounds a bit sour. “Blessed are the Dead” is one the best songs on the album with its meaty riffs and flawless songwriting. Unfortunately, longtime fans will be turned off by the fact that Mustaine chose as the song’s topic, The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse - the same four horsemen that METALLICA used to rework the Mustaine-penned “Mechanix.” Similar to The System Has Failed, there are some throwaways in the form of “You’re Dead” and the ill-fated guitarathon of “Burnt Ice.” Perhaps the biggest atrocity on United Abominations is not the flat soda-esque Gears of War video game song but the re-recording of Youthanasia’s “A Tout Le Monde.” Mustaine has not made it a secret in the past that he intentionally wrote Youthanasia, Cryptic Writings, and Risk for maximum radio airplay and this stunt is no different. Cristina Scabbia, from the flavor of the month band LACUNA COIL, lays down a duet with Mustaine that simply adds little substance to the original. Scabbia’s adequate albeit unexciting contribution actually sounds like Amy Grant.
United Abominations clearly shows that MEGADETH in 2007 can still dish out strong riffs, catchy songs, some guitar wizardy, and solid song arrangements. However, it’s safe to now say that we’ll never see MEGADETH going for an all out speed metal massacre and that the band is satisfied with their streamlined mainstream metal sound of the 90’s. Unfortunately, it also seems as though we also won’t be seeing another classic album from MEGADETH. (Roadrunner Records)