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.
-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)
RUST IN PEACE -1990
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:
-Countdown to Extinction
-Foreclosure of a Dream
-Architecture of Aggression
This album hits with a bit of a heavier 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:
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.
-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:
-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:
-Use the Man
-I'll Get Even
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)
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!
-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!)
All cover images from either: