The Sick, the Dying … and the Dead!

During the protracted recording of Megadeth’s 16th album, founding bassist Dave Ellefson was canned, his parts erased and re-recorded by Testament bassist Steve Di Giorgio. Surprisingly, The Sick remains a strong, cohesive statement, led by Dave Mustaine’s matinee-horror-flick vocals and incendiary guitar from him and Brazilian shredder Kiko Loureiro.

Listen to Loureiro flat-out blaze on “Life in Hell,” while Mustaine conjures fat Schenker tones on the title cut. Of course, rhythm guitar is crucial to Megadeth’s post-thrash musing, heard in the terrifyingly riff to “Night Stalkers.” The album’s purest slab of metal, “Dogs of Chernobyl” has chilling lyrics and power chords forged from the most-saturated distortion imaginable. “Sacrifice” is graced with Loureiro’s spellbinding flash. “Célebutante” is a high-tempo shuffle, with a thrashy midsection and hot-potato solos tossed between Dave and Kiko. High marks should also go to co-producer and engineer Chris Rakestraw for rendering Mustaine and company in thrilling arena-volume detail.

If you think 60-something Dave Mustaine is getting long in the tooth for such unrepentant metalisms, cue up the closer, “We’ll Be Back.” It’s fast-and-furious proof that Megadeth is thrashing harder than ever.

This article originally appeared in VG’s September 2022 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.

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