Thursday, November 15, 2007

MEGADETH-The Full Review

Post #7
I Know I've already posted about Megadeth's Rust In Peace album, but I need to have a post about their career as a whole, so here it goes...

Killing is My Business... (...and Business is Good!) -1985
Mustaine's first recording since being ousted from Metallica 2 years before gives true merit to his metal song-writing skills. Megadeth establish a fast/shredding metal sound that is different enough from Metallica to establish a loyal following in their own right.
-Last Rites/Loved to Deth
-Mechanix (this is a new arrangement & lyrics for the Metallica song "The Four Horsemen" which Mustaine co-wrote as well- Megadeth speed it up as you will see if you compare the 2)

Peace Sells... But Who's Buying? -1986
With Megadeth's 2nd release they establish a level of consistency with their fast metal sound. This recording also seems to have more direction & consistency within itself as well. Political themes make their way into some songs here too (most notably on the title track), a premonition of what will become a trend for Megadeth in the years to come.
-Peace Sells
-Wake Up Dead
-My Last Words (An awesome song about Russian Roulette!)

So Far, So Good... So What! -1988
By Megadeth's 3rd album, the drug habits of the group begin to take a toll on their song quality. Although there are certainly some great metal songs on this album, I must bring myself to say it is probably their 2nd-worst album. Don't let this deter you though, it's still a great deal better than many other heavy metal albums that are out there.
-Set the World Afire
-Hook In Mouth
-In My Darkest Hour (this is possibly the best song in Megadeth's whole catalog- funny that the rest of the album doesn't live up to this standard)

I won't spend too much time on this album here. For a more in-depth review, see my "Rust In Peace" post! In a nutshell: This is the BEST Megadeth album ever.

Do not miss: Holy Wars... The Punishment Due

Countdown To Extinction -1992
Here is where Megadeth really make a change to their sound & push for the mainstream-radio sound in metal. There are a great number of slower tempo, more melodic songs to be found on this album. Although this move kind of went against their previous trend of heaviness & speed, the album is still an overall success, and highly regarded by many long-time Megadeth fans (myself included) as a great album. My personal favorites:
-Sweating Bullets
-Countdown to Extinction
-Foreclosure of a Dream
-Architecture of Aggression

Youthanasia -1994
This album hits with a bit of a heavie
r feel than Countdown does, however Megadeth do drift a bit further away from the speed element of their earlier work. The only down side to this album is probably the fact that so many of the songs sound too similar to each other. There are still good ones to choose from, the most distinguishing being "A Tout Le Monde". Other recommendations:
-Reckoning Day
-Family Tree

Hidden Treasures -1995
Since the late 80's, Megadeth had been contributing many songs to various movie soundtracks and compilations over a number of years. Most of these contributions never appeared on an official Megadeth record... until now! This is a collection of previously released songs, none of which had been on a Megadeth release. In essence, it's almost like a Greatest Hits record of all new songs.
Check out:
-Angry Again
-99 Ways to Die
-Go To Hell

MD.45-The Craving -1996
With this side project, Mustaine collaborates with Lee Ving (from the 80's Punk Rock band Fear). I think they were aiming for a blend of Punk and Metal. The overall feel is a very raw sounding metal album. The end result is not bad, it's actually better than a couple of Megadeth's own records. It sounds pretty much like a Megadeth album with Lee on lead vocals. However, when Dave remastered the Megadeth back-catalog, he apparently re-recorder the vocal tracks on this album in his own voice. I haven't heard the remastered version yet, but I'd imagine it makes it sound even more like a real Megadeth album. I'll leave you with a couple of my favorite tracks from this CD:
-Hell's Motel

-Designer Behavior
-Nothing is Something

-Roadman (some parts of this one remind me of Rattlehead from Killing is My Business)

Cryptic Writings -1997
As the 90's wore on, grunge and alternative rock grew to dominate the mainstream of rock & metal music. So much so, that Metallica tried their hand at the craft and saw huge success with 1996's Load. With Cryptic Writings, Megadeth seem to make another lunge at radio-friendly song writing. Of all Megadeth's albums, this one comes closest to repeating the level of mainstream success they had with "Countdown". The songs on this album bring back a variety of sounds and tempos that were missing back on "Youthanasia". A bit of the influence of the alternative rock scene can be heard on the song "I'll Get Even", but overall it's not as evident as it is on Metallica's Load from the previous year. There are a lot of good songs on this album:
-Almost Honest
-Use the Man
-I'll Get Even

Risk -1999
Ok, this is it: the only Megadeth album I would actually NOT recommend you buy. It is hands-down the worst Megadeth album. This is the most experimental album they've ever recorded, and it falls short of any expectations. There are elements of Industrial mixed with metal, and other songs are almost pop-metal. Few if any songs can be compared to the rest of Megadeth's work. If you're still curious, a couple songs it wouldn't hurt to try are:
-Prince of Darkness
-Time: The Beginning (& The End)

The World Needs a Hero -2001
This album marks the start of a new era for Megadeth, as Mustaine replaces Friedman on lead guitar and Menza on drums. New members Al Pitrelli (guitar) and Jimmy Degrasso (drums-also from the MD.45 project) help Dave Mustaine right the direction of Megadeth on this effort. The vibe here is definitely closer to "Classic Megadeth" than the previous couple of albums, but it's not quite on the level with "Countdown" or anything that came before that. Still, the good songs on this CD are really good. Check out:
-Dread & the Fugitive Mind (This one originally appeared on "Capitol Punishment: The Megadeth Years", a best-of album that Capitol Records needed from the band before releasing them from their contract. Megadeth switched to Sanctuary Records afterward)
-Return to Hangar (Yes, it's a sequel to Hangar 18! Not as good as the original, but not bad.)
-When (This is a nice long, epic track dedicated to a bad relationship-much like "In My Darkest Hour" was)

The System Has Failed -2004
This album was intended to be Dave Mustaine's debut solo-album, however the legal-schmegal fine print of record contracts made it easier for Dave to keep the Megadeth moniker, rather than drop it. From this point on, one may want to view any Megadeth material as Dave Mustaine's solo project.
In spite of another line-up change and the bad-terms exit of original Bassist Dave Ellifson, this CD really gets back to old-school Megadeth thrashing even more than "Hero" did. For the studio work, Dave even brought in former guitarist Chris Poland to help on a lot of the guitar solos. Chris, at one point described this album as "Rust In Peace Part 2". Some of the better songs on this CD truly live up to that praise, too. Mustaine & Poland have several dueling lead guitar solos on the album, much like they used to do up until RIP. Political themed lyrics are back with a sharp tongue as Dave criticizes a variety of issues including the judicial system and international affairs. The only gripe I have with this CD is how the lyrics sometimes don't flow well with the riffs, they seem a bit forced in places. And other lyrics seem to dwell a bit too long on Dave's new grudge with Lars Ulrich (at least it seems so to me). Here are my top suggestions from this album:
-Blackmail the Universe
-Kick the Chair
-Die Dead Enough
-Back In The Day
-Truth Be Told

United Abominations -2007
If "System" was a true return-to-form for Megadeth, then United Abominations may become known as a masterpiece. Here is another solid step in the direction of unyielding thrash. Mustaine has changed the band's line-up (again), but the speed and technical masterwork on lead guitar doesn't skip a beat from "System". If you thought some of the lyrics were controversial on the previous album, then you better brace yourself for some of these. I've never heard good ole' Dave tear into politics without holding anything back as much as he does here. I'll take a moment here to say that although I don't always agree with some of Dave Mustaine's out-spoken opinions, I truly admire him for having the balls to say what he believes. This is what Rock music & Heavy Metal are all about: sticking it to "the man" (thank you, School of Rock). Much of the criticism on this album is aimed at US foreign policy and the actions (and inactions) of the United Nations. But if you can put some of your opinions aside for the sake of banging your head to some shredding metal, then United Abominations is sure to cause you some well-deserved headaches!
Recomended Tracks:
-Washington is Next!
-Gears of War
-Set Me Free (A Tout Le Monde) (this is the exact same song as the original "A Tout Le Monde", just rerecorded and some cool new vocals from Cristina Scabbia of Lacuna Coil. I find it better than the original!)
-United Abominations

All cover images from either: or
11/15-12/13/07 -Headbanger_71369

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

The Ultimate Paul Stanley Power-Ballad Collection

Post #6
Okay, Please forgive me this segue into what some may consider the very abomination of what Heavy Metal should be about: the Power Ballad! I swear I'll get back to real METAL quickly with my next post... I'm compelled to write this particular post because of an hilarious video I saw on called "Paul Stanley-Lullabye Guy" (here's the link if you want to see it for yourself:)

(Although I was ROTFL myself as I watched & listened, I also was able to appreciate this guy's voice as he was actually pretty good at imitating Paul's singing style). It also made me realize that Paul has had a ballad or power ballad on pretty much every KISS album I could remember. So I looked into it a little more closely and came up with this list (in case anyone wants to make a mix CD or i-pod play list of Mr. Stanley's ballads through the years). ('74)-LET ME KNOW (this album may not have a "true" ballad per se, but this song is close enough, I think)
Hotter Than Hell ('74)-COMIN' HOME
Destroyer ('76)-DO YOU LOVE ME? (the famous ballad from this album is of course, "BETH" sung by Peter Criss, but Paul presents this much harder-rocking pseudo-ballad as well)
Rock & Roll Over ('76)-HARD LUCK WOMAN (written by Paul, but sung by Peter)
Love Gun ('77)-THEN SHE KISSED ME (cover of the 60' pop song, but Paul sings on this track-closest song to a ballad on this album)
1978: PAUL STANLEY's Solo album is packed with ballads-pick one you like!
Unmasked ('80)-SHANDI
Music From "The Elder" ('81)-ODYSSEY
Creatures of the Night ('82)-I STILL LOVE YOU (this one lifts Paul's Power-Ballad skills to a new level!)
Lick It Up ('83)-A MILLION TO ONE
Animalize ('84)-THRILLS IN THE NIGHT
Crazy Nights ('87)-REASON TO LIVE
Hot in the Shade ('89)-FOREVER*
Carnival of Souls [The Final Sessions] ('97)-I WILL BE THERE
Psycho-Circus ('98)-DREAMING (Paul-vocals) or I FINALLY FOUND MY WAY (written by Paul, sung by Peter)
Detroit Rock City [movie soundtrack] ('99)-NOTHING CAN KEEP ME FROM YOU (this one was actually written by Diane Warren- who'd penned "I Don't Want to Miss a Thing" for Aerosmith on the Armageddon soundtrack. This song could be referenced as another example of KISS trying [and failing] to duplicate some of thier peers' glory. I must admit that since Aerosmith's comeback with Permanent Vacation in '87 they've been the better band, but that's a story for another post...)
Live To Win ('07)-This is Paul's new solo-album (post-KISS). Similar to his '78 solo album there are several ballads to pick from. Try EVERY TIME I SEE YOU AROUND, or SECOND TO NONE.

*-If you're like me and can only take power-ballads in small doses, or one at a time, then this is the one I say to go with...

(Images from

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Stone Sour

Post #5
In today's Heavy Metal scene Stone Sour started up as a side project for a couple of the guys in Slipknot. The primary reason being that the material they wrote for this new band was such a departure from the blistering & brutal over-the-top heavy sound that Slipknot had become known for. Personally, I think this was a brilliant move: StoneSour is much more main-stream than any previous Slipknot material, and because of that they have opened themselves up to a whole new audience without the worry of preconceptions deterring those who may not prefer to listen to anything Slipknot are associated with.

Stone Sour first caught my ear with "Through Glass" from their 2nd album, Come What(ever) May. This song has gotten plenty of air-time on hard rock radio stations across the country, and probably represents the softest side of Stone Sour. Don't be mistaken, they can still thrash out some heavy tunes, although even these have a bit higher vocal quality than most of Slipknot's music. Corey Taylor really taps his vocal potential in this "side-project", which I hope sticks around for many years to come.

My only regret with this band is that I didn't discover them sooner. The song "Bother" from their debut album, has since caught my attention, & I plan to add that CD to my collection soon. For now I'll recommend some of my favorite songs from Come What(ever) May...
-Come What(ever) May*
-Through Glass
-Zzyzx Rd.

* I especially recommend this song due to its STRONG ANTI-BUSH Political theme! There need to be more songs like this out there... maybe I should do a post dedicated entirely to anti-Bush rock music?...

(Image from

Dated January '09: I must correct myself! Thanks to the November '08 issue of Revolver magazine, which featured a cover-story on Slipknot & their new album "All Hope Is Gone", I stand corrected on Stone Sour's origin. It turns out that Corey Taylor was in Stone Sour originally, before either band had a record deal. The members of Slipknot invited Corey to join the band when they competed against each other in a local "Battle of the Bands" contest. When Taylor agreed, they gave their old singer the boot and landed a record deal shortly after. Once Slipknot had established themselves, Corey Taylor got back together with Stone Sour during one of Slipknot's breaks. Having the work from Slipknot under his belt, a record deal now came much easier.

I hope both bands can continue their careers for quite some time. My apologies for getting these details wrong on my initial post. I'll leave the original content as proof that I don't know everything about heavy metal (too many sometimes claim they do!). A little humbling does us all some good every now & then. I'll try to keep up on my facts in the future, but correct myself when I do find errors. Happy headbanging!