I decided to rank every Metallica album last week in an effort to keep my mind busy.
I figured it was only fair that I should take a look at their natural foil, Megadeth.
As such in a similar fashion I have decied on my own order of greatness for every Megadeth album, take a read below and feel free to let me know via firstname.lastname@example.org
You can also request a classic to close or submit a track for airplay on Dancing With The Dead on a Saturday night!
Much like the Metallica list, picking the first entry at the bottom of the pile is an easy choice.
But in comparison, Megadeth can’t blame any outside influences, this one is entirely their fault. A misguided attempt to slow down and introduce melody, that wasn’t wanted by the fans and that Dave’s sneer couldn’t deliver.
Risk is a very appropriate title, it’s a shame it didn’t work.
After the new lease of life that Endgame has displayed a few year previous, this was a huge disappointment. Plodding along through mid paced thrash by numbers. I think this is one area that Megadeth has always been guilty of, they don’t seem able to self edit, like they have to release something every 2 years or the world would end, when if they had taken an extra 12 months to refine some of the ok ideas on this album into good ones it could be amazing, instead we have a collection of half ok ideas with some terrible lyrics.
I saw the band on their tour to support this album.
They only played one song from it on that tour. That should tell you just how much confidence they had in the songs.
Acknowledged it does contain the fun reworking of “A Tout Le Monde” with Cristina Scabbia of Lacuna Coil adding a nice melodic sheen to the chorus, which is a nice variation, even if do prefer the original myself.
There’s nothing wrong with it, but, it’s Megadeth, you kinda expect their albums to grab you and hit you like a shot of adrenaline, this is a light sugar rush at best.
The World Needs A Hero
Having to follow up Risk, this album could have been the final nail in the coffin if it was another stinker.
Whilst it was a complete life saver, it certainly got the heart beating fast enough to remind the fans that Megadeth could still thrash it up if needed, the singles of “MotoPsycho” and “Dread and the Fugitive Mind” both grooved more than head banged, but they were heavy again and the album thrashed away with “Recipe For Hate… Warhorse” and the first of what would become a running theme in the later albums revisiting/reworking a classic in “Return To Hangar”.
The System Has Failed
Finally, after lurking for what felt like forever in the rock wilderness, this is the album that Megadeth returned to thrash.
Huge guitars, frantic riffing, cynical and sarcastic lyrics. Yup, all present and correct.
This was Megadeth asserting themselves again, despite it having an almost revolving door approach to the musicians present for the recording of said album, “Kick The Chair” “Back In The Day” and lead single “Die Dead Enough” all come armed with killer riffs that most bands would sell their souls for.
But after the insane level of quality Megadeth had produced elsewhere, this album is often overlooked.
With a band as old as Megadeth, most of them have an experimental stage where different sounds are tested, that is where we are with Cryptic Writings. With a completely different guitar tone to everything else in their career and a lighter style of song overall, this was not something the fans saw coming. The response wasn’t great, which is a shame as despite having some truly awful lyrics, maybe some of the worst Dave has ever penned, this album does manage meld rock and metal with great success on singles “Trust” and “Almost Honest”, which was also remixed for the Mortal Kombat soundtrack, see, experimental stage! But the ball was heroically dropped on “She Wolf” “Have Cool, Will Travel” “FFF” and sadly more than I would like to list.
Overall it has some great moments, but much like other bands that deviate a little too far from their core sound, it was reviled by the fans.
Megadeth back on form, it saw the meandering half effort of Super Collider ditched and a sharper, focused band hitting it’s stride.
Armed with a clean, clear and pristine production allowing every element of the music to shine, especially the playing between Mustaine and new guitarist Kiko Loureiro.
The aggression was back, the venom was back in the lyrics as Dave spits bile at the whole world and the state it’s currently in.
The album that saw the return of Dave Ellefson to the band, this reuniting of the Dave’s got the fans suitably excited as some found the material on the previous albums a little hit and miss.
For me, this is a great album. The one I think Megadeth were trying to make with Risk, as there is just as much rock as their is thrash on this album, as it easily grooves just as much as it head bangs. I think it nails everything it aims for, especially with the inclusion of some reworked songs, acknowledged most of them were either released in demo or b side form, so not every fan had heard them at this point, and to the bands credit, they have presented them in their best form on this album.
So Far So Good So What
This for me is a marmite album, the songs are either masterpieces, and with “In My Darkest Hour” my favourite Megadeth tune, or utter trash, such as the dismal cover of “Anarchy In The UK” or “Mary Jane”, which contains arguably the worst vocal performance from Dave Mustaine in his entire Megadeth career. As such I love half of it, and hate, not even too strong a word, I hate half of it. It’s a shame, as it does contain easily some of their best work and some of the best thrash metal ever recorded, the doubleheader kicking off with the legendary instrumental “Into The Lungs of Hell” managing to be catchy and loaded with melody as well as thrashing like an electrocuted ADD sufferer before it leads you innocently into “Set The World Afire” with its quirky little intro again suckering you in before trying to remove your head from its shoulders.
On the aforementioned “In My Darkest Hour” Dave sounds, in a rare moment, genuinely a bit of a mess, which if the legends of the excessive lifestyle he was leading at the time are true, he probably was. And for this song it lends itself perfectly, sadly on other points in the album, it just sounds messy.
Comparisons with Metallica were inevitable for this band, and to an extent their careers deviated into differing areas at similar times.
This is the Megadeth equivalent of Load.
Acknowledged, it’s got a beefier sound in comparison, it’s still got half a foot in thrash,and it’s got a lot more groove than any other Megadeth album. It’s probably the slowest, and possibly because of those gigantic grooves possibly the heaviest.
Each song is armed with a huge chorus, pristine production, bigger bass sound than previous and some quite frankly ridiculous solos at times, yes “Killing Road” I’m looking at you!
That said, the opener “Reckoning Day” kicks like a mule, “Addicted To Chaos” grooves and punches like a champion, “Victory” snarls and spits venom over its rights riffs and knowing wink lyrics.
An album that’s often missed as it’s not one of the thrash classics and it’s before they band really went off the rails for a few albums.
After roaming in the wilderness of rock, groove and alternative metal for the best part of 15 years, with 2009s Endgame Megadeth stamped both feet back into the thrash world.
The first album to feature Chris Broderick as Mustaines guitar opponent has both of them flying and flaying fingers at each other from start to finish.
This album is not just a fantastic Megadeth album, it’s a fantastic modern metal album, immense production from the legendary Andy Sneap brings every instrument into sharp focus, exemplified in the double header of “This Day We Fight!” and “44 Minutes” as both songs manage to change pace and style within their combined 8 minute runtime but neither feel forced, neither feel contrived, both just feel like joyous expressions of how exhilarating thrash can be when it’s done well.
That said, “Bite The Hand” , “Head Crusher” and “The Right To Go Insane” all keep the standard up throughout the rest of the album.
Killing Is My Business… Business Is Good
An album that is driven as much by youthful exuberance as it is by venom and vendettas.
Much like it’s Metallica equivalent, this album pumps with as much a punk blood in its veins as metal, the speed and simplicity of some of the songs are lifted straight out of the punk rule book.
But in comparison, there’s a higher level of playing throughout and the screeching , howling solos push this album into overdrive.
“The Mechanix” , “Last Rites/Loved To Death” , “Rattlehead” and that cover of “These Boots” all made names for the band, and despite the muddy production the quality of the material shines through, and this is another in the cornerstones of the creation of thrash metal.
Rust In Peace
Without a doubt one of the tightest albums ever released. Riff upon riff upon riff, thrashing over lightning drums and thundering bass, this is the metal apocalypse, fuelled by paranoia and conspiracy theories from the height of the Cold War, this album finds Megadeth in exceptional form.
Any album that could open with “Holy Wars” and “Hangar 18” (which features my favourite guitar solo duel, ever) was always going to good.
The fact that despite the insanely good opening, the quality doesn’t dip over the course of the rest of the album is testament to high standard of thrash metal on this album.
After they had already released 2 genre defining albums with “Killing Is My Business” and “Peace Sells” they did it again with this masterpiece.
Bonus points to the band as well for slowing it down to the bass driven groovefest that is “Dawn Patrol” at the end of the album, love that track!
Peace Sells…But Who’s Buying
Thrash metal as it should be.
Lots of riffs.
Social commentary or political lyrics is usually a must, some bands have gotten away with it, but when they are at the top of their game, Megadeth were always shouting about concerns of the country as much as the punks were.
A wry sense of humour where possible.
Amazing solo duels.
Beefy production, but with some grit, thrash isn’t meant to be shiny!
In theory if all of the above is complete, the songs should be good, we know this really rarely happens though, especially as exceptionally as it did on this album.
The album is perfect, it’s that simple, it barely stretches past 37 minutes in run-time but every second is vital, every beat is needed, not an ounce of fat is present on this album, it’s stripped back to its bare and required essentials to get the ugly job done.
From stories of getting caught by your partner where you shouldn’t “Wake Up Dead” to prophecies of the end “Bad Omen” it’s all amazing, and it manages to thrash as well as headbang you into submission as the pace changes , usually within the same song with alarming ease.
If you want a prime example of how to make a perfect thrash metal album, this is the place to start.
Countdown To Extinction
So, if “Peace Sells” is perfect, how on earth is “Countdown To Extinction” better than perfection?
Well, in theory it’s not possible, and yet as with many things Megadeth have done over the years, they have achieved the impossible.
This album is everything that Megadeth have ever tried throughout their career, perfectly executed.
They thrash it up on “High Speed Dirt” , get political on “Symphony of Destruction” , explore personal demons on Sweating Bullets” , get their groove on with “Captive Honour” and even bring up the cheerful subject of game hunting on “Countdown To Extinction”, which unsurprisingly is on the receiving end of some scorn.
All of these points would be worthless if it didn’t sound any good, this also tops that poll as well, as it’s easily the best sound Megadeth have crafted, but heavy and sleek, but still with sharpened edges capable of taking off your skin if played loud enough.
There really aren’t enough ways to describe how or why every metalhead, and especially thrash fan should have this album in their collection. Without a doubt one of the best albums of the 90s.