Megadeth have unleashed Night Stalkers, the latest track from their forthcoming album, The Sick, The Dying... And The Dead!, for which they’ve recruited US rap royalty Ice-T.
It follows the record’s lead single, We’ll Be Back, the heavy metal icons’ first new material in six years, following the release of Dystopia in 2016.
And just like We’ll Be Back, Night Stalkers is a six-string adrenaline rush of the highest order. The bombardment of electric guitar jabs have a machine gun quality in their speed – very apt for the track’s black ops-inspired storyline – and serve up a non-stop supply of high-octane rhythms.
There are some sublime soloing skills on display. The six-minute-plus runtime has ample space for the furious fretboard blazes of both Kiko Loureiro and Dave Mustaine, who go toe-to-toe with a smattering of scorching lead lines throughout.
We mustn't forget Ice-T’s surprising guest appearance, either – which occurs at the 3:00 mark in the form of a brief spoken word momentum-builder – or the acoustic guitar breakdown that precedes the track’s pummeling, riff-fueled finale.
Mustaine spoke about Night Stalkers while in conversation with Jose Mangin of SiriusXM earlier this year, and revealed that it might just be the fastest track on the whole album.
“There is a song called Night Stalkers – it's a brutal song,” he said. “I can't remember if that was the fastest one or not but Night Stalkers is about the 160th Battalion with the United States Army, and it's all the black-ops helicopters that go in at night, nobody knows they're there – they're in, they're out.”
It was because of this underlying meaning that Mustaine sought out the help of Ice-T – aka Tracy Lauren Marrow – whom he claimed served as a ranger in Afghanistan and thus could bring “real credibility” to the track.
“When I asked him, I thought it would be great to have him because of his bravado and then the fact that he's got real credibility as someone who was there,” Mustaine recalled. “And then we've got several other guys to participate in the track just to make it as real as possible.”
There is no evidence that Ice-T, nor the 25th Infantry Division in which he served, fought in Afghanistan in the years he was enlisted. In what sounds like a scene out of The Last Detail, Ice-T actually went to military jail for stealing a rug. He told Howard Stern in 2017 that he saw no action, just a lot of training.
But nonetheless, he is a very cool guest for Megadeth. And Mustaine says he is guesting on Ice-T's as-yet-unannounced forthcoming album. The pair previously collaborated on Body Count's Civil War.
The Megadeth leader also went on to touch upon the Night Stalkers as-yet-unreleased music video, which features extensive helicopter footage and authentic military sounds that were captured from a base in Brazil.
When it does arrive, it will presumably follow the precedent set by the We’ll Be Back music video – which featured similar military action and violence – and serve as the story’s second chapter.
The Sick, The Dying… And The Dead! will arrive September 2 via UMe. It was first scheduled for a release in early 2022, though was pushed back as a result of distribution issues.
Another delay occurred after the band fired longtime bassist David Ellefson last year. Mustaine subsequently recruited Testament’s Steve Di Giorgio to re-record all of Ellefson’s bass parts, and tapped James LoMenzo to fulfill live duties.
The Sick, The Dying… And The Dead! is available to preorder now.