LIIIIIIISTSSS… LIIIISTS SEEEEELLS… LIIIIIIISTSSS…
LIIIISTS… LIIIIIIIISTS SEEEEEEEEEEELLSAAAUHGHGH…
LIISTS SELLS… BUT WHO’S BUYING?
LIISTS SELLS… BUT WHO’S BUYING?
Our good friend Leif Bearikson delivered a killer listing of the best of the best of Metallica a few days ago. It ruled and the discussion rattled through the readers of our humble project. Weirdly enough, my magical perception started to induce me several headaches for some kind of disturbance on the cosmic fabric of the energetic conducts of this side of the galaxies, and that is because you cannot escape a Metallica argument line without citing Mustaine and The Megadeths.
I know Dave Mustaine is a very divisive figure these days, even more than yesterday. But, please, let’s just concentrate on his music and his band members this time (I also don’t know about your politricks, so you have that too! My only saying about this topic is GO TO HELL!).
That is how life is. You have the white and the black, but you need them both to form the grey, isn’t it? To ease the appetite of the Metallic Overlords we need to do this sacrifice. We need to talk a little about Megadeth, and to parallel Mr. Mustachioed Bear, we will be following his magical setting. Let’s pick the best of the best on the Megadeth catalog. THE ENTIRE CATALOG, I SAID.
The best song from each Megadeth album
Killing is my Business… And Business is Good!
Best song: “Last Rites/Loved to Death”.
Besides the loose production values, the Megadeth debut saw a band thirsty for blood and flesh on the metal scene. Mustaine trademark snarl is on his primitive form and “Last Rites/Loved to Death” proves how manic their sound was since day one. Gar Samuelson’s jazz background shows in the swinging nature of his performance, but he really printed some cool speed runs too; on the other side of the spectrum, guitar riffing is caustic and it features some of the typical Megadeth sound ideas that permeates their thrash era: the descending chord progressions, the chaotic soloing and the high point musicality of their eclectic line-ups.
Peace Sells… But Who’s Buying?
Best song: “My Last Words”.
The title track of this one is a staple on their concert, so let’s delve more into this record to find the real diamond in here. Peace Sells is considered one of the milestones of the thrash genre for multiple reasons and picking one song on this release became a pain, since we have a nearly pristine album if we take out the Willie Dixon cover, which only seems to slow the listening. The production improved drastically in par with the arrangements and ideas; this is a record that touches slow territories and fiery fast scorchers. Gar’s last recording was, probably, his best job until he sadly parted away, and Chris Poland precisely put into the album a terrific array of master soloing. “My Last Words” starts ominous and dark, and the song never stops of pummeling heads until the last drops of sweat and blood falls. Fast, aggressive, moody, obscure and emotive. Such a grandiose closing!
So Far, So Good… So What!
Best song: “Into the Lungs of Hell/Set the World Afire”.
The third album of Megadeth sees the band entering into a gritty progressive territory that formed the last parts of the first era of the band. Replacing their drummer extraordinarie and the wonder guitar player of their debut era, Mustaine thrown into the arena their drum tech, Chuck Behler, and a guitar teacher, named Jeff Young, of course he fired them after a while because we all know how the history goes. But, yeah, the new guys injected a little bit of their precision to level the flashy and alien performance of their previous counterparts and the introduction to So Far, So Good… So What! is noted for the unexpected changes and the mathematical approach to the guitar work. “Into the Lungs of Hell” is a desperate instrumental intro that conjures the darkness and “Set the World Afire” starts with a war cry and then moves sinuously between fast and groovy segments that end in an explosive guitar dueling.
Rust in Peace
Best song: “Take No Prisoners”.
Continuously tagged as one of the best metal records ever made, Rust in Peace is the debut of the famed lineup comprised of Dave Mustaine, Dave Ellefson, Nick Menza and Marty Friedman. Now with more anger and bite, the leader of the band channeled all the fury he accumulated during all the bitterness against his previous band (you know, the multimillionaires corporate rockers of San Francisco), his demons and the uncertainty of his own life; all of this resulted in a record plagued with technical nuances and wizardry everywhere. “Holy Wars… The Punishment Due” and “Hangar 18” became staples, but we still have incendiary thrash gems like “Take No Prisoners”, that contain all the elements that made great this genre: guitar burnings, pounding bass playing that enhances the experience, warfare lyrical content, chants and neck breaking pace. All of this is maximized to 11: Nick Menza doubled the speed of this footwork on the drums, Marty Friedman laid a perfect final solo, Dave Ellefson increased his playing to the stratosphere and… Mustaine? He was the vicious, dangerous and angry lead singer and rhythm guitar of a band called Megadeth for this time. And damn! It was a great time!
Countdown to Extinction
Best song: “Architecture of Aggression”.
Another hard time for me to pick just one. I asked Bimmy MacÑulti, our detective friend, for an advice on this release and he just yelled at me: “ASHES IN YOUR MOUTH” IS THE ONLY GOOD SONG ON THIS ALBUM. I loooove Ashes in Your Mouth, but I definitely go with the “Architecture of Aggression” because the architecture of this song is very aggressive, eh? Well, Countdown to Extinction saw the light in a time in which the band merged the thrash sound into the traditional heavy waters, and that favor to the metal gods paid well to the Megadeth crew, because this is the most commercially successful album to the date. Besides toning down a little the fast section, the band gained a powerful sound amplified by the tight rhythmic department which concluded into a vast display of colorful groove. “Architecture of Aggression” focuses all his might into using the instruments as an expressive outlet of war commentary. Nick Menza reminds the primitive side of his drumming, employing bulletproof double bass works to unease the listener into the deadly combats and Ellefson bass delivers an impossible groovy riff that morphs into that great pre-solo bridge; everything is just in the right position on this song.
Best song: “I Thought I Knew It All”.
The logical following of Countdown to Extinction had another huge batch of heavy metal goodness, splashed by incredible arrangements and riff crafting. Max Norman and Dave Mustaine, once again, produced and mixed an amazing sounding album that gave new life to the songs. The main difference against its predecessor is the weird overlaying of certain guitar parts the entire record, pursued in order to have a massive sound, a fuller guitar tone and to enhance the melodic aspect of the band’s songwriting. “I Thought I Knew It All” has the entire mood of this album in just one song. The introspective and thoughtful nature of this piece shines with the overlapping and delicious harmonies of the riffing, a jaw breaking solo and the only time Mustaine sang like he should be. What a great performance.
Best song: “Vortex”.
The fallout of the band started here, but some alternative rock sounding tracks, inspired by the mainstream sensibilities of their time, does not discredit this record of having some other righteous tunes that dabbled with the punk attitude of Mustaine own musical tastes, and “Vortex” is one definitely of those second type of songs. Marrying the speed, the violent attitude and the technical progress of their catalog, this piece fuels the entire place into flames with that sensual riffing that morphs between verses, choruses and solo with ease. The guitar gymnastics are not the focus point, it is the entire exercise of alchemic resolution to grab this riff and twist it into form. Also, what do you do with such a sexy riff? Well, you place a sexy solo, of course!
Best song: “Prince of Darkness”.
Now we are sailing into treading waters, Nick Menza is gone, giving the throne to Jimmy DeGrasso, a great drummer in a bad moment of the band; Marty Friedman jumped off the boat too. This album is a low point and should be avoided, but if I have to take just one song of this one to save my life, it could be “Prince of Darkness”. The alternative rock tenure of the past experiments is fully formed here like a giant fetid homunculus, but the occult touches on this one and the theatrical vocals can save this turd of a record of being just a regular turd.
The World Needs a Hero
Best song: “Dread and the Fugitive Mind”.
I checked this record because of this song. The record is super-duper forgettable but this song does not. “Dread and the Fugitive Mind” employs a similar structure to “Sweating Bullets”, in which the start/stops rhythmic base leaves Mustaine in a storyteller archetype vocal style, but instead of going to the atmospheric side of the Countdown to Extinction it retorts the formula into the mid-era Megadeth, the one with the kicking ass solos, the harmonized riffing and the tight bass and drum combo. Al Pitrelli really delivered a premium work on his string attack, pairing with Mustaine a powerful end song that goes full throttle in the metal. Like everything in this life should be!
The System Has Failed
Best song: “Blackmail the Universe”.
This was originally a Dave Mustaine solo record, but he had to use the Megadeth name, so here we are looking at it. At the time, the band was almost destroyed, Mustaine was having serious health issues and Ellefson was out of the camp when he fought a really hard legal battle with his old partner. But, in the end, Mustaine assembled a lineup of session musicians to aid him on the recording, including the legendary axman Chris Poland. The opener, “Blackmail the Universe” could be considered the best choice on The System Has Failed, remembering the old days and viewing through it with modern eyes. The frenetic thrash riffing got inspired by “Set the World Afire” and the Peace Sells era, which is a good in my #LinkNotebook, exchanging a little the formula with the melodic mid-era of the band. The scorching final segment of the song goes to the stratosphere with gusto. It is such a good song.
Best song: “Burnt Ice”.
A hit and miss album, in which the bad songs were mediocre and the good songs were really good. In an attempt to restore the glories of the past, Mustaine brought to his headquarters new mercenaries of metal: James LoMenzo on bass, Glenn Drover on guitars and Shawn Drover on drums; and together composed United Abominations. I still think Glenn Drover is one of the best guitar players that Dave brought to Megadeth for his precise execution on the scale runs, and the real best cuts of this album proves his melodic approach to the soloing, like in the Iron Maiden worship “Washington is Next!”, the reimaging of “Vortex” riffing on “Never Walk Alone… A Call to Arms” or the ominous “Sleepwalker”. In comparison to those songs, “Burnt Ice” really sets the mood for the nostalgic thrash attack morphed onto heavy metal fury. What starts with a big groovy rhythm is juxtaposed to a sharp riffing on the verses and a “Sweating Bullets” type of paranoid monologue; but the final segment all the psychotic attack sees the light with frenzy walls of guitars and drum rolls all the way.
Best song: “This Day We Fight!”
I never understood people’s fixation with Endgame since I felt all the riffing was kind of “square” with no flavor, but it was very successful on the critic’s reviews and the commercial aspect. This was the time in which Andy Sneap mixed everything to sound shiny, like the bathroom of a soap commercial, you know, super clean and hygienic. The band tried very hard to sound more thrash of the days of yore, and in some moments it paid in a positive way and in others not. The lineup remained nearly the same, except the departure of Glenn Drover, exchanged by Chris “Mr. Robot” Broderick, a skilled classical guitar player that played with Jag Panzer and Nevermore. Some groovy-oriented tracks showed the band’s stagnation, and some others unveiled Mustaine need to please everyone with vicious strikes directly to the jugular. In “This Day We Fight!”, though, the thrash attack is back with a vengeance and feels like a well-rounded tribute to the entire catalog and the onward future.
Best song: “Thirteen”.
The return of Dave Ellefson promised a lot of good changes for Megadeth, but weirdly enough; the thirteen record of the band is not what the forecast told. The album, mixed by Johnny aKa ”the guy who produced Disturbed’s ohWAAHAHAHJAJAJA”, was graced by four rearranged old compositions, but the selection was unfocused and all the songs chosen were almost forgettable (Except for “New World Order”, that one has some sweet melodic verses). On the other side, the album was plagued of boring hard rock hooks and was scattered all over the place. I do think the title track has certain charm, with the middle acoustic section and the rock styled soloing. And no, “Sudden Death” is not good! It’s a masturbation fest that goes nowhere.
Best song: “Kingmaker”.
I am suffering through all the bad albums just for you, and I hope you really appreciate my effort just like Leif did; I mean, Leif had to listen all the bad Metallica albums, right? Ahhh… The days of the Super Collider… I remember those days like if it was 3 years ago. The metal blogosphere flipped to the bathrooms to make a world barfing symphony of unprecedented magnitude, but hey! Th1rt3en was awful and at least it had two salvageable choices! Well, the thing with Super Collider is that it was boring to me and it has a DAVID D. DRAIMAN FEATURING that killed one of the few cool songs of it, but I genuinely hate the previous record even more than this one, and that is because Megadeth teased everyone with “Kingmaker”, and at least that song used “Children of the Grave”, from Black Sabbath as a template, and that song freaking rules.
Best song: “Dystopia”.
We arrive to the final station, folks. The trip was long and arduous, and I am glad I can finish writing to concentrate on my daily job; you know, edit conjurations on magic tomes and spread the arcane knowledge through an energetic interconnected net of sentient beings. Dystopia was indeed another hit and miss record, but at least is superior to the Megadeth’s last three records. It is close to United Abominations in terms of quality. The record drags a lot in mid tempo after the first songs and nearly all the songs are constructed in the same way, with chugged verses, a melodic chorus and a solo. But, some of those solos are simply amazing, thanks to the acquisition of Kiko Loureiro, a great musician, best known from his work with power metallers Angra and his solo progressive work. “Dystopia” architecture takes the old intro/verse/chorus/verse/chorus/solo jam formula of “Hangar 18” and shakes it up a bit with Kiko’s jazzy background, in which the proud Brazilian shows his technical capabilities in the whole segment; the rest of the song is not that bad neither!
So, that was all, folks! Shoot me on the comments, it is not the first time I am probably wrong; or maybe it is not the first time you are all wrong. Who knows? At least the balance is restored.
Now I can go back.
Photo cover: VIA
H/t to Tyree Grindhart for making me lol with that freaking gif.