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Revenge- (n.): to exact punishment or expiation for a wrong on behalf of, especially in a resentful or vindictive spirit.
So put yourself in Dave Mustaine's shoes for just a moment in 1983.
You're just about to record your debut album which is sure to have an intense following and will be remembered throughout the history of metal as one of the seminal offerings in the beginning of the thrash movement. Your chops are better than anyone else's in the band and you've written half the album's songs and nearly all the solos. Your riffs are completely unheard of for the time period in terms of speed and precision and you have been known to steal the spotlight on and off the stage. Next thing you know, you wake up, your bandmates say you're out of the band, basically tell you to fuck off, and leave you to travel 2600 miles back home on a Greyhound bus (Yes, I did the math if you're wondering). Not much later, you find out the album is released with your songs AND SOLOS on it and they're being copied by some dude named Kirk Hammett and your so-called bandmates.
This must have been the single biggest kick to the nuts Dave had ever received at this point in his life and there wasn't much he could do about it, except become something greater than he was before. High on revenge and taking no prisoners Dave formed Megadeth and struck back with a searing vengeance.
The demo starts off with Bach's Toccata and Fugue in D Minor played on the piano by Mustaine (Haha this is literally the only part of the demo that won't crush your skull in) along with Junior on bass then completely fucking erupts into your face with the riff from Loved to Death. You like the KIMB version of Loved to Death? Well, this one is played at about twice the speed and has the concussive power of a nuclear bomb. The distortion on Dave's guitar is on complete overhaul and is sure to melt even the most veteran metalhead's skull. Believe it or not, for a demo, you can hear every instrument and vocal pretty damn good....maybe because everything is pushed up so damn high! The beginning screams and vocals reek of pure hatred and contempt in Loved to Death and the attitude on here is undeniably bloodthirsty and savage. The breakdown towards the end is evil as hell with the tortured screams and Dave laughing like Satan himself. That verse riff that almost sounds offbeat is even more manic and complex on this track due to the speed it's played at too. It doesn't take an idiot to realize that just a couple three minutes into listening to this demo, it's already surpassed the energy level of everything in its day, not just Kill 'Em All.
Now the Mechanix. Dave scrapes the guitar 8 times to set the beat and off it fucking goes. This version of the Mechanix is played inhumanly fast. Compare this speed to Wehrmacht's Shark Attack album or Dark Angel's The Burning of Sodom. Yes. It's that fucking fast. It is the definition of supersonic. You think Dave plays fast on Holy Wars? Five Magics? Rattlehead? You don't know shit. This is at least, AT LEAST, 280 beats per minute. Dave is just as unforgiving on Mechanix as Loved to Death. The breakdowns in the middle of the song with the E and F chords just slice away. The riffing will turn heads and lay waste to all who oppose it. The solo in this song is bar none the best on the demo. It does not let up...and why should it? You've already signed your death warrant after the intro to Loved to Death didn't you? Insanely fast chromatic and pentatonic runs end in an explosive finale and Dave screams one last roar. I cannot stress enough the sheer terror and relentless assault this track holds. It is very overwhelming and will kick your ass over and over again.
Skull Beneath the Skin is noticeably different from the first two tracks because of the sound. The sound on this actually feels like a garage setting and the sound is kinda flat. That's not to say it lets up in the least bit. The vocals are a tad whiny but Dave is all over the fretboard on this one. The solo fills are well thought out and this version is many more times menacing than the KIMB version.
On a side note: Although I would never doubt metal-archives I have heard of many different line ups on this demo. I've heard Rausch-Mustaine-Ellefson (I believe this one), Mustaine-Poland-Ellefson-Rausch (the one Metal-archives says), and Mustaine-Ellefson-Samuelson. I found this confusing because I always thought Samuelson was in the band first then Chris came along once Gar gave Mustaine a tip about him. Who knows.
Last Rites is an amazing look at the anger, ferocity, and uncontrollable lust for revenge Dave radiated back in 1984. Running through thrash releases in my head, I cannot think of one that is faster and more ferocious than this one for the year, 1984. Haunting the Chapel and the Overkill EPs come close but falls short of the pure energy and viciousness of it. Every solo on this demo is beyond anything anyone back then was playing and proves that Dave was only a shadow of his true potential in Metallica. The riffing is ingenious, complex, manic, and unrelenting. Did I mention it was fast? ......Fuck. You have to listen to it to believe it. The cover art is killer too. Last Rites showed that Dave had the means to take on the world and, I think, proves he is the architect of thrash metal. If Metallica ever listened to this back in the day they probably shit their pants realizing they released the thrash metal equivalent to Pandora's box.
I only docked points for the sound on Skull Beneath the Skin. Besides that, this demo is the rawest most over the top Megadeth release ever. It hits hard from beginnning to end and has never disappointed me. Dave surely got his revenge and it showed from the very beginning how much he craved for it.
LIVE FOR METAL........DIE FOR ]/[EGADET]-[
There have been some who have speculated that if Dave Mustaine had never been in Metallica, they would never have gotten off the ground, particularly considering the massive songwriting credits attributed to him on that album. While I’m not sure of it myself; one thing is certain, he was the principle source of Metallica’s thrash orientation. This can be readily observed in the contents of this, the first demo by MegaDeth, in its completely unrestricted aggression.
Obviously the production is rough as hell, but for a demo, it ranks high for its time in terms of quality. When compared with the recently re-mastered versions on “Killing is my Business”, it is hard to believe that this was done on a 4-track in 1984. Dave’s vocal delivery is not quite as dead on as it was on the LP that followed, in fact it is downright ugly, but it never really comes across as sloppy or amateurish in its entire eleven minute duration.
“Last Rites/Loved to Death” is a break with the current established standards of no keyboards with a nice little classical piano intro, but one should consider that in the beginning these rather silly limitations on the genre didn’t exist, because Dave was one of the ones who originally defined it. “The Skull beneath the Skin” takes the lead in terms of riff content, blazing through a series of skull crushing guitar figures with an occasional vocal part in between two of Dave’s crazy leads.
The obvious point of interest on here is “Mechanix” which is a shorter version of “Four Horsemen” which is free of the repetitive quasi-epic riffs that Hetfield and company contributed to their version, as well as jacked up on coke to boot. The shuffle riff that bears a lot of similarity to the main riff of Children of the Grave is to damn fast that to this day it kills my wrist when I play it along with the CD. The subject matter of the song has obviously been altered from a fit of self-promotion in the case of Metallica to a nice little analogical comparison between some hard thrashing sex and fixing a car, E.E. Cummings would be proud.
Thanks to renewed interest this demo is now available along with the re-mastered version of “Killing is my Business”, an added bonus for any MegaDeth fan, young or old, who has yet to get that particular album on CD. It is a great listening experience that is completely removed from all of the slick productions, pomp, and fanfare tendencies that would later creep their way into the genre.
This is Megadeth's first ever released collection of songs, and it still remains to be their fastest, most brutally heavy material even to this date. The songs on the demo would eventually evolve into the ones that are found on the debut album, "Killing is My Business...And Business Is Good!".
On to the music, "Last Rites" opens up this show up with a "morbid church" sounding piano intro. Very haunting, I wish it was longer than 45 seconds. This is probably one of the best intro pieces in metal, because it actually goes somewhere and is not just ambient noise for 2 minutes.
Next is "Loved to Deth". An incredibly fast riff gradually builds up and Mustaine's surprisingly brutal scream opens up the song. The verse is VERY fast and would be headbangable if the production didn't lick goat sac. The main riff is decent at best, but at least it is thrashy and fast, so that is a definite plus. Mustin'es vocals are pretty damn whiny, but then again, they never really changed until "Countdown to Extinction" and reached an all time low on "Rust In Peace" (except "Dawn Patrol", of couse!). Back to the song, the solo is pretty insane, and is mainly just scales, but once again, at least it is fast. The song thrashes right until the end, no lame fade out endings here!
The infamous "Mechanix" follows, and the slow intro part is missing. It's better like this. The famous riff opens the song, it sound a bit faster than was performed on "Killing...". The lyrics are lame, but the riffs in this thrash classic easily make up for them. The production on this seems to be a bit cohereant than on "Loved to Deth". The next cool riff ends the second chorus, and one of the coolest parts in all of metal comes in at 2:07, that transition is just great! This has got to be one of the best thrash songs of all time, that ending solo is much better than the one on "Loved to Deth" and actually seems to follow an appealing pattern.
Closing the demo is "Skull Beneath the Skin", and the intro is much slower than the previous songs. The first riff is really cool, and has that build-up feel to it. There is a solo very shortly into the song, which is cool in itself and leads to a completly owning riff. At this point, the song really speeds the fuck up and gets heads banging with its abrupt riff changes. The riffs on this song are fucking INCREDIBLE. Halfway through, the guitar stops for 2 seconds, leaving the bass alone, then rips right back into the kickass riffs. Mustaine's voice is still shitty, but one could say it suits the aggression of the music very well. A "Mechanix"- styled solo closes the show with a bang.
Why didn't Megadeth play this fast and brutally on their debut album? Although the production is shit, the riffs and the speed are so damn enjoyable. Very hard to find, so just download it and hear Megadeth at their loudest, fastest and most brutal.
Yes, it's short, but Last Rites is a very important landmark in thrash history. Before this, most bands were still playing at a moderately galloping pace. This showed the world that you can play FAST and still be good. And play fast they did. The songs at hand are around 260 bpm each!
The Mechanix is the ultimate highlight. Clocking in at just under four minutes, this song just completely rushes at you with these lightning-fast riffs. This is what thrash is made of - uncompromising brutality and speed but also an eye for melody. This is faster and more brutal than the version featured on Metallica's No Life 'Til Leather demo and later Kill 'Em All. The other highlight would be Skull Beneath The Skin. That main riffset just screams "Anthrax!" This has a lot of good riffs and some above-average basswork, particularly in that creepy middle section. As good as this is, the band would soon get even better...
There really isn't anything spectacular to mention about this demo... Mustaine had wanted to form the "fastest band in the world", and maybe he succeeded (after all, Mechanix is pretty fucking fast around 260 beats per minute), but more importantly this just sounds fucking VICIOUS. More so than Killing is my Business, which suffered badly from the production.
Here, apparently they managed to jack themselves up nicely for the songwriting sessions (ever notice that Dave's songwriting is always better when he's abusing substances??) and then sober up enough to operate a 4-track recorder correctly.
The highlight... Skull Beneath the Skin. Man, that fucking riffset. Holy pwnage. If you like the debut album (and who doesn't??) then you will like this one even more!! The remaster of the debut has these songs as bonus tracks, but one should hunt around a bit for Rattlehead, which was never part of the official demo but was recorded in the same session and floats about as well.
Fuck yeah, this thing rips your face off - did I mention that? It's similar to Overkill's Feel the Fire demo (Feb '84) in terms of sheer viciousness and general guitar tone, and came out about 3 months later... another good comparison is Exodus's Turk Street demo (June '84 I think) - this one definitely deserves to be mentioned with all those other classics of early thrash metal.