I would love to go on about technical stuff about this album, like riffs and that, but honestly I don’t even know what a riff is. So, I guess I’ll write this stuff my way and hope someone else feels it.
Who is Megadeth?
I’m dumbfounded when I hear this question, and always think to myself, “What, have you been sleeping under a rock for the past 20-some odd years? How the hell do you not know who Megadeth is?!”
So, to begin: Dave Mustaine is the heart and soul of this band. The ones that fill the void and complete Megadeth are Shawn Drover, Chris Broderick, and James Lomenzo.
If you venture onto any of the Megadeth websites you would see firsthand that this band is about more than just the music; in my opinion this is part of the attraction.
Megadeth has a sound all of its own, and could never be mistaken for anything else. Dave’s versatile voice has a unique, coolly erratic sound to it and words never do it justice; I won’t even try. You really just have to hear it for yourself.
In my mind, Dave Mustaine is almost untouchable when it comes to his abilities as a guitar player (lead and rhythm, electric and acoustic). Maybe this is one of the reasons he has reached legendary status — this and the fact that he was one of a handful of creative and driven minds that breathed life into a new genre of music, thrash metal.
For all you Megadeth newbies, this part is for you. It’s a little about Dave Mustaine’s history that usually helps new fans appreciate him more.
Dave has been referred to as “the man too maniacal for Metallica!” Yes, they kicked him out cuz he was just too badass. But like a phoenix rising from its ashes, Dave Mustaine’s Megadeth was born, built by the pain of a great betrayal. He used his pent-up anger to overcome and excel.
Megadeth has a riveting history but it’s too much to tell here. Megadeth: VH-1 Behind the Music is what you need to fill in all the blanks. This DVD is worth every penny, and once you see it you’ll want to get the rest of the collection, but this one is a good place to start.
Now, you can’t talk about Megadeth without mentioning how dedicated their fans are. Besides the fact that the music is impeccably perfect to the ears of most metal lovers, I believe Dave’s followers defend him so fiercely cuz he’s just one of those people you can’t help but like. (Some want to have him as a close friend or brother, while others want to be like him.)
Shielding him has always been a top priority for his fans, cuz we don’t want anyone that may have bad intentions to get close enough to hurt him like others have in the past. It’s not like Dave can’t take care of himself, but you know how it is with a friend — you protect them cuz friends just do that.
United Abominations and 9/11
There are quite a few songs on United Abominations that seem to be about things surrounding or regarding 9/11 and other current events. See, my problem is some of this stuff scares the hell out of me and I know I can’t fix these things. So, in cases like this I shift my focus to something else, like maybe the outcome I want.
Dave Mustaine is my polar opposite. He appears to be much braver than myself and seems to have no problem facing these issues. Everybody deals with things in their own way, and that’s cool. I know Megadeth has always been passionate about these topics and I mostly just take Dave’s word on all of it, while I continue to enjoy the way his music makes me feel.
9/11 sucked! I can’t imagine the pain it caused the American people or how it’s still affecting them now. I’m Canadian, and United Abominations got me thinking about the people of the US. They are so patriotic and proud to be Americans. They have an “unstoppable” attitude along with an inner strength that I’m not sure can be matched. I don’t know if I could be as brave as they are to go off and fight some war knowing they may not return home.
I’m also wondering if Americans felt abandoned at some point. These days there are many that judge the US for all sorts of reasons. But I was thinking maybe Canada goes untouched cuz the US is right there protecting us just by being our neighbours. If we were located anywhere else on the map I’m wondering if Canada would be enjoying the freedom we sometimes take for granted.
I just don’t want to see any more of our neighbours lost. Dave refers to himself in the song “Recipe For Hate…Warhorse” off of the CD The World Needs A Hero as “a man without a country.” I guess in my mind that’s kinda how I saw him. He might not have meant it this way, but his chosen profession has lifted the borders and fences that would have made the US his only home — maybe, in reality, the whole world is now his home.
But United Abominations reminds me that Dave Mustaine is still a proud American, and 9/11 did touch Megadeth (and everyone else). Parts of United Abominations, in my opinion, hurt to hear; but maybe in its own way it’s also healing.
Megadeth — United Abominations: Track-by-track review
You always make an excellent cadaver
I roll your body up in a carpet to make music in the
Trunk of my limousine, wrapped up in a rug
A fitting end, is that I send you up the river like a punk
No one is safe when I close my eyes
I come to take your life
Dave Mustaine says he dreams about killing people while he sleeps, and Sleepwalker” has very vivid imagery of just that. I love that he brings his dreams into his lyrics. I can’t straight out say why “Sleepwalker” is my favourite cuz maybe it would be inappropriate. So, I guess I’ll just leave you with this:
“Sleepwalker”‘s melodic intro captivates as it seems to seductively lure you in. Once it plays you into a trance, you’re abducted, and as it proceeds to break the sound barrier it wrestles you to your knees.
Yes, close your eyes and sleep so you don’t have to witness the unspeakable things Dave’s about to do to you as he spits fire through his snarl and gritted teeth. As “Sleepwalker” dominates you, your only option is submission cuz if you fight it, it will beat you senseless. Pleading for mercy will only take the attack to an increased level of severity. Who knows, you might even like it so much you’ll be back for seconds.
Dave even puts Freddy Krueger to shame on “Sleepwalker.” One, two Dave’s coming for you… three, four better lock your door!
2. “Washington Is Next!”
An ancient mystery, nobody could interpret
Of seven empires falling, the wolf is at my door
As predicted years ago, that that was, that is, that is no more
The word predicts my future and tells the truth about my past
Of how the world’s leaders are waiting to usher in
The eighth world power of modern Rome
Washington is next!
Some of the predictions in “Washington Is Next!” I’m sure I’ve heard before. These predictions (maybe from a time that’s already passed) coupled with things occurring socially and politically in our day and age make for a disturbing vision of what’s to come.
“Washington Is Next!” launches you back and forth through its wormhole of time. As you ricochet off of its transparent walls, its force field holds you inside as you watch time and space go racing by. Like a sliver in your mind that’s driving you mad, it all appears vaguely familiar as you try to remember something lost in our past that points the way to our future.
Being pulled into a guitar-generated black hole, you spin out of control in its vortex while you find yourself soaring at the speed of light across the universe. Now on your way back and with time running out you reach out for anything to hold on to.
Dizzy — your equilibrium thrown out of balance (and forgetting that this song’s trip will soon be coming to a close) you start to freefall back to Earth. Hoping motion sickness doesn’t start you lay back and wait for the world to stop spinning so you can open your eyes again.
3. “Never Walk Alone…A Call To Arms”
As if speaking to you in a tongue you just don’t understand, “Never Walk Alone” does “wrap its arms around you,” and with a strong but gentle touch it holds you while still trying to communicate.
With the message maybe still too intricate to decipher it’s pushed away out of your fear and ignorance. Grief-stricken it watches, seemingly in silence. Unable to attain by force, it waits, holding all the answers; it waits, and until the end of time it waits. Waiting for you to return to its arms.
I’m sure there have been things said by Megadeth about a lot of the songs on United Abominations. Unfortunately, for whatever reasons I think I’ve missed most of it. So, without any commentary that Megadeth may have provided on other CDs in the past that I freakin’ missed, I’m left trying to figure out what it all means to me. (There is a website that you can go to and actually ask Dave Mustaine questions (askdavemustaine.com) but just the thought of talking to him intimidates me!
Maybe “Never Walk Alone” a love song? The first time I read the lyrics, a story did come to mind. It’s about this father that has a shitload of kids that he’s totally into, but they won’t even acknowledge that he exists. Which must bite!
I suppose these things always have a way of working themselves out in the end. But I don’t know; maybe “Never Walk Alone” is really just “a call to arms”? It also has a video that’s really cool. I’m pretty sure you can check it out on Megadeth’s Myspace.
When you feel that something’s wrong
I’ll shelter you and keep you warm
I’ll never let you walk alone
I loved you and you still hated me
Let me wrap my arms all around you
Suffer the trespasses that you’ve made
I will drink your pain away, forever and a day
If you’d just call out my name-even whisper it
4. “United Abominations”
“United Abominations,” being the title track of this CD, is getting some special treatment. So, this track’s guide is extra long because duh, it just deserves it. The review touches on the actual track as well as events I experienced and a few of my thoughts regarding the CD.
First, this song is about Dave Mustaine’s view or opinion on how the United Nations is failing at whatever purpose it is suppose to be serving. It’s got a list as long as my arm of the UN’s… should I call them crimes?
It was May 2007 and the eve of the release of the new Megadeth CD United Abominations. The excitement on the Megadeth web sites was palpable.
Dave even wrote to all the fans that night. He told us how excited he was for us to hear United Abominations for the first time and that he hoped we would all love it as much as Megadeth did. Dave was sure that it would keep getting better every time we listened to it (but in my experience every Megadeth CD has this same cool quality).
I had pre-ordered United Abominations through the website, and the day it was released I hadn’t received mine yet. I read the comments of everyone that had already had the chance to hear it.
The album got nothing but rave reviews, but there was a reccurring word I kept seeing: “haunting”.
I didn’t give this too much thought at the time. I’m naturally an impatient person so by the end of the day I had come up with a really good excuse to just go buy another copy of the CD. Yes, a birthday present for my brother! Did the fact that his birthday wasn’t until October stop me? Hell no!
I was sitting in my Jeep in the Future Shop parking lot when I ripped the plastic off the CD. I admired my favourite new picture of Vic on the CD face as I found a place for it in my 6 CD changer. Some of the songs were released earlier on websites so I had previously heard (and loved) “Sleepwalker” and “Gears of War.” I could barely contain myself, waiting to hear the rest.
Of course I pulled the sleeve out and started flipping through it as I gave Megadeth my undivided attention. Just before the song “United Abominations” began I started reading the part at the very back written by Matt Michnovetz — “Jack Bauer”.
I was completely blindsided by that next song. That “haunting” thing everybody was talking about hit me with full force. I feel like such a girl admitting this, but: there I was in broad daylight, around rush hour, people everywhere and me not being able to stop myself from bursting into tears.
I sat there in disbelief that Megadeth had made me cry. Why this surprised me I don’t know because honestly it’s not the first time. But the last time I didn’t cry like this. So, I had been emotionally destroyed by my new Megadeth CD!
I saw the movie Immortal Beloved again a while back. There is a line in this movie spoken by Beethoven that is my best guess and attempt at explaining my strange reaction to the song “United Abominations”.
“It is the power of music to carry one directly into the mental state of the composer. The listener has no choice! It is like hypnotism.”
When this song begins, whether you’re conscious of it or not your soul is being torn wide open, forcing you to look inside to your darkest depths where forgotten and ignored memories were once buried. The memories of the sounds of cell phones echoing through the rubble of Ground Zero in New York. Ringing desperately with fading hopes that they’re not gone and that they’ll walk through the door like they’ve done a million times before.
This song “United Abominations” shook me to the core. Many months later it’s still difficult to listen to. If there were to be a soundtrack of 9/11 I’m thinking the intro of this song would be it.
I’m sure most people have seen Schindler’s List. This movie in my opinion was technically perfect, and it won so many awards. But none of this matters when you sit down to watch it. The emotions it provokes are undeniable. The feelings of this tragic story were captured in every frame and touched everyone that viewed it in one way or another.
In my mind, the United Abominations album is Megadeth’s Schindler’s List; it’s perfect, but maybe it should have a warning label regarding that “haunting” thing! Megadeth always take you for a ride if you let them. But be forewarned: strap yourself in tight because once this intense ride leaves the platform there’s no getting off until Megadeth is done with you!
5. “Gears Of War”
“Gears Of War” slowly ascends the steps leading to the doors of your mind with dark and menacing sound waves — frequencies set to “sinister,” it penetrates.
As the familiar voice you trust whispers “gears of war” to you, the song erupts; pouring out, it saturates your senses. Its cloud envelops you. Making you lose your footing and impairing your vision, its pulse pounds in your head blocking out all other sound. Letting go, you sink into the many layers of this song. As the waves of solidifying rock carry you to the journey’s end, you realize the whispering voice never left your side.
There is something buried deep in Megadeth’s music that I can only compare to dreams I’ve had. All I can recall of these dreams are the way they felt. The feelings are always just as strong when I wake up as when I was first having the dream. A lot of these feelings are familiar but I’m unable to categorize them or give them a name.
“Gears Of War” is one of my favourites off of United Abominations. Sometimes I’m so mesmerized by a song as a whole I don’t pay much attention to the lyrics. This is the case with this song. It’s probably some sorta crime, but most times, on songs like this I don’t even try to learn the words because in the past when I have they end up losing their mystique.
Megadeth is an exception to this rule; I know in time I will know the lyrics because I catch myself singing some of them now; subconsciously it’s in there. But lyrically the title does say it all: “Gears of war!”
When the smoke has cleared, the devil’s in the mirror
And you see his warheads paint the sky, now you die!
6. “Blessed Are The Dead”
As “Blessed Are The Dead” opens, it builds gradually just like the “dark and gathering storm” its lyrics speak of. You can feel and almost hear the galloping horses drawing near.
From the beginning to the end you’re plugged in. “Blessed Are The Dead”‘s humming electrical current moves through you while its vibrations are dancing off your nerve endings. Regrettably, the sensations don’t last. The closer you come to the end, the more you can feel everything start to fade. Caught in between worlds, you can’t stop yourself from coming down, and the cold feeling sets in as the freeze’s strength weakens.
I’m thinking this song is referring to the story of the four horsemen from the book of Revelations. It has also become one of my favourites from United Abominations. “Blessed Are The Dead” for some reason reminds me of three other songs: “My Kingdom” off of The System Has Failed (also by Megadeth); and “The Creed” and “Chutney,” both by MD45 off of Cravings (a CD that was the result of a side project Dave Mustaine did a while back).
When I sit back and listen to these four songs they take me somewhere; another time, maybe. I have the same experience with Led Zeppelin; with Zeppelin’s songs like “Gallow’s Pole,” I’m seeing the Renaissance era (14th to 18th century, as in the movie Ever After).
With Megadeth I get more of a warrior feel; maybe the Middle Ages or the Viking era (8th to 11th century, like the movie Beowulf).
7. “Play For Blood”
Last man that’s standing wins the fight
Too late, I see your end zero in on you
Even mortal enemies, they can’t deny
Let me help you up again
I love this part of “Play For Blood”‘s lyrics. Dave Mustaine has the chance to deliver the final blow, but instead… mercy!
“Play For Blood” at first sounded to me to be a song about a war game or a battle between gladiators. Over time I wondered if there was a deeper meaning; maybe it was about Dave getting off on playing metal. He doesn’t play for this, he doesn’t play for that; he “plays for blood!”
With a shot of adrenalin your heart beats harder and your blood pumps faster. Well one way or the other, when it comes to Dave’s skills as a guitar player he would definitely be ranked in the class of a great gladiator.
Hearing “Play For Blood”‘s guitars first ignite, you can almost visualize their flames accelerating in your mind’s eye. Their heat escalating and with an appetite that needs to be fed they consume everything in their path.
Climbing to dizzying heights, “Play For Blood” burns out of control. Now unstoppable and changing course, you realize it’s coming straight for you. Will you survive its searing heat? Watch out for second and third degree burns if you get too close or try to touch.
It drinks up its fill, but its thirst can’t be quenched so it searches for more. Left in its wake is nothing but ash, and in the blink of an eye “Play For Blood” dissipates, as it burns itself out.
8. “A Tout Le Monde (Set Me Free)”
Megadeth remade this song for United Abominations with Cristina Scabbia of Lacuna Coil. I have to say I was a little envious; I’m not sure if other female fans felt the same. But anyway she rocked and the video was awesome. I loved how dark it was and, well, I guess Cristina was a little eye candy for guys that love Megadeth.
With each note of “A Tout Le Monde” you feel yourself dragged further from the safety of the shoreline. Carried out by the swells you drift alone in an ocean of tears with an undercurrent so strong it almost pulls you under. In the distance you hear Cristina’s voice cry out; as it increases in volume it pierces your heart and burns until you go numb. You quickly learn that if you let “A Tout Le Monde” all the way in it will consume you.
This is the controversial song that so many people interpreted all wrong. It’s not about suicide; it’s a love song. When people pass away, they haven’t always had the chance to tell others how they felt about them. I take “A Tout Le Monde” as a song about letting people know before it’s too late.
I know some people preferred Megadeth’s original to this remake (my brother being one of them) but I like them both. I don’t think you can even compare them because they’re so different from each other.
“A Toute Le Monde” is the only mellow song on United Abominations (well, mellow in comparison to the rest of it). I think it needed to be there because it’s like a roller coaster ride; you need a break from the whiplash to catch your breath before the next onslaught of intense speed and G-forces splits you in two.
“Amerikhastan,” like a setting sun, moves with a fragile sadness that is quickly crushed by the anxious frustration of guitars in a tug of war with vocals raining down an agitated sarcasm. It’s all too much. “The state of things” playing on your last nerve, causing an unsettling feeling in your gut that just won’t pass, a pain in your chest that keeps growing. Heartache?
This is one of the songs on United Abominations that I’m not sure I get:
New Yorqatar to
The first time I heard this song and looked over the lyrics I had a memory of an episode of “Three Wishes” pop into my head. It was a special episode. They were doing face lifts to the homes of people returning from fighting in the Middle East.
On the reveal, they had a group of young kids lined up in the driveway. They were all in formation, saluting and wearing full army fatigues. It reminded me of pictures I had seen of kids from the Middle East with bullet belts draped around their little bodies and holding guns that towered over them. When I watched the kids in the driveway I thought wow, the west is looking a lot like the east at this moment. (Maybe it’s the names combined together like California and Arabia (“Califarabia”) that made me think of the “Three Wishes” show; I don’t know.)
In the lyrics, Dave Mustaine describes a social setting of what I was assuming was the US, but certain things made me think that maybe he’s talking about a place other than the US. In the end I was wondering if that’s what the name combining is all about?
But maybe the two most important lines in this song are:
When God versus god
The undoing of man
Promising a vapour
In the end they become one
The world keeps spinning and blood keeps being spilt over a question of religion. “In the end we become one”; “Do onto others as you would have them do unto you?” In my opinion, in the end it’s really not going to matter what you believed in; maybe it’s all about how you lived and if it was a good life!
10. “You’re Dead”
Comparable to the most violent Japanese drumming, beating its chest this song unfolds feverishly. “You’re Dead,” lumbering, creeps up on you from out of the obscurities. Confidently unmasked and ruling unchallenged, this king of the jungle moves through its kingdom, intimidating without, apparently, the slightest effort.
Revelling in its own glorious power it can’t help but stimulate your senses. As “You’re Dead” rises, you climb after it trying to reach and glimpse the heights at which it exists. Proudly it reveals itself to you, and then like a funnel cloud it draws you up and as it gains speed it rouses you.
Riding its gale force winds, it propels you for miles and then, slowing, ejects you. Unscathed by the track’s high velocity and strength, and trembling from the rush still coarsing through you, you now try to find your way back down.
Spoils go to the victor and dead on time
Your time is going to come
I’m not exactly sure what this song is about. But I’m guessing someone’s done someone else wrong. Maybe as much as Dave Mustaine would love to get revenge, he mostly just takes it out on his guitars and creates masterpieces like this instead. The line “your time is going to come” brings to mind that old saying “what comes around goes around”… he’ll just celebrate when it finally does.
11. “Burnt Ice”
“Burnt Ice” gains momentum and never lets up; pulling you by the hair, it forces your head back to be sure you get an eyeful of the picture show as it leads you down into the basement. Distracted by the cobwebs clinging to your clothes, you almost don’t notice something staring back at you from the shadows.
Dave Mustaine brings you face to face with another’s harsh but true reality. You look on as addiction tightens its grip upon its victim like a boa constrictor strangling the life out of a creature caught in its scaly coils. Like a nature documentary gone wrong, it looks as if one lacking the will and strength to fight for its own existence will be taken out by the predator, poised and waiting to feast on anything that crosses its path. Captured and swiftly descending, you exit “Burnt Ice” while watching the victim caught in the jaws of a vicious death roll, slowly fading.
If you didn’t get it: this song is about a man with a bad addiction that appears to have taken over his whole life. In an article in Revolver last year, Dave said the following about “Burnt Ice” and its subject matter, crystal-meth:
“I wanted to write something that would make it easy for the young people to look right into the abyss and see what it’s all about. I’ve never done it, so I asked a guy I knew who had been a crystal-meth user to give me some lingo. It’s so insane what that stuff does to you, because of all the stuff it’s cut with. It’s like taking a drill bit to your brain!”
Whenever I hear “Burnt Ice” I can’t help but wonder how much Dave drew from his own experiences with his past addictions when he wrote it. It’s cool he’s clean now; people don’t always win that battle, ending up six feet under instead. I’m just relieved drugs didn’t get to claim another brilliant and talented artist.
United Abominations by Megadeth
“Washington Is Next!”
“Never Walk Alone…A Call To Arms”
“Gears Of War”
“Blessed Are The Dead”
“Play For Blood”
“A Tout Le Monde (Set Me Free)”