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Well, here it is. Megadeth's highly acclaimed second full-length album. Released a year following the debut "Killing is My Business...and Business is Good!", "Peace Sells...but Who's Buying?" showcases the band already evolving vastly above what they were doing before. And again, it amazes me how these guys made this music while on all of the drugs. This album took their thrash/speed metal sound and basically lessened the speed metal aspects. They're still there of course, because thrash metal basically evolved from speed metal. However, overall, this album is far more a pure thrash piece than anything. It is far more sophisticated musically, in terms of songwriting, technicality, and melody. This was also the album that pushed Megadeth further into superstardom, and gained them even more positive media attention than they were already accumulating.
"Wake Up Dead", although only having a few lines of lyrics, was already one of Megadeth's finest pieces of music the band had yet to create. It was placed right at the beginning of the album. The riffs in this song are heavy as balls and pure thrash! This album seems to be a bit darker than the first record. There are still lyrical ideals of the occult, with tracks such as "The Conjuring", "Devils Island", and "Good Mourning/Black Friday". The third track I just mentioned also has a beautiful acoustic intro which screams an influence of classical music. It's dark and haunting and quite beautiful at the same time. These songs, unsurprisingly with their lyrical themes, are among the darkest on the album. Not only that, but some of the darkest the band has ever written. This album also was where Dave began to include political themes. Of course, I'm speaking of the title track "Peace Sells". The lyrics are basically questions of a political nature with Mustaine answering them afterwards. This is one of the most recognized, iconic Deth songs, and with good reasoning. It positively rips! In terms of guitar, with this album's many overly impressive solos and riffs, we are treated to an absolute masterpiece that Megadeth wouldn't top until "Rust in Peace", which would come four years later in 1990.
Dave's vocals are, again, my least favorite aspect of this album. I've stated I'm not a huge fan of his singing and that still stands with this record. That doesn't matter though. The music is just too good. As with the previous record, Gar Samuelson preformed drums on this album. He was a skilled drummer playing in jazz fusion bands before and the jazz influence in his drumming is completely obvious here. He was probably the most skilled drummer Megadeth ever employed, dare I say. His technical proficiency is unmatched. Unfortunately he would not play on anymore Megadeth albums, as he was fired due to his hard drug abuse. I believe Mustaine was trying to clean up at this point, and did not tolerate Gar's drug use (which is totally understandable). Still, it's quite sad, and he would eventually pass away. His legacy definitely lives on with this record.
I really can't say more about this album, honestly. It's not their best, as I said earlier, but it is very close to a perfect thrash metal album. With these classic releases, so many people have thrown their input in and provided reviews. I feel like I owe these albums reviews, though, and so I shall. I love that we can provide reviews for the music we enjoy on this website and I love how relevant it had become. "Tell me something, it's still we, the people, right?"
In my mind, Megadeth have always been one of all too few thrash bands that have a real identity. I don't mean that they have an identity as a thrash band, because there are thousands of groups who only have an identity as a thrash band to make them memorable, which of course backfires as they get lost in the masses; what I mean is that Megadeth have always had an identity apart from as a thrash band, meaning that they really do stand out distinctly from their multifarious generic peers and imitators. In fact, if we really think about it, Megadeth are not really that pure a thrash band. Ventures into hard rock and commercial territory aside, Dave Mustaine and his many cohorts forged a thoroughly unique sound from the beginning, as 'Killing Is My Business' is quick to prove if you listen to its speed metal riffing, baggy bass, and frantic shredding. Probably for this reason, Megadeth can easily lay claim to being my favourite of the "Big 4" bands and - if they truly play thrash - also my favourite thrash band.
In this regard, 'Peace Sells...But Who's Buying?' is a typical Megadeth album, exhibiting all the assets and the few drawbacks that have made Dave and co. so consistently entertaining for so long. There are lots of riffs and speed; there's Mustaine's idiosyncratic voice(s); no sense of restraint in terms of solos; hooks that never lose their hard edges; finally, there's that ever-present sense of excitement that mostly comes from the friction between white-knuckle technicality and enraged sloppiness, which is almost certainly the defining factor of early Megadeth. What makes 'Peace Sells' a little more than just a typical Megadeth album is its invention and daring. Whenever Mustaine has gone all-out and fired everything at an album or a song, it has come out exponentially better than the times he has played it safe, even if the song is riddled with weirdness or poor production or that imposing sloppiness that only someone really crazy could ever pull off (not Metallica, naturally).
The invention is all there in the bulk of the songs on this record, often coming from the guitars, though by no means limited to them. The entirety of opener 'Wake Up Dead' is a testament to an intensely different way of thinking about music, right from the splurge of words that leads the album out of the gate to the combative riffs that chop up the middle of the song with so many different time changes to the stomping feel of the closing solo section, which remains one of the most distinctive moments of Megadeth's career. The creativity on display here is inimitable and fearless, making the entire song feel thoroughly unpredictable and exciting after the hundredth listen, however much it might spin the listener's head at first. Then there are those broken riff licks on 'The Conjuring', the legendary bass line from the title track, the bloodied tatters of fingers flying off guitar strings during 'Black Friday', the funky dip and groove of 'I Ain't Superstitious', and the climactic gang shouts in 'My Last Words' - this album has a lot going on in terms of ideas. It shouldn't really work with this kind of hectic creativity, though that's the difference between being good and being unique.
Four men do their best to make this a great listen. The first one, I don't need to talk about, though I would like to say that Mustaine is underrated as a vocalist, since he crafts a whole load of different shapes from his voice and never sounds as though he's doing anything inappropriate. Chris Poland, while not as celebrated as Marty Friedman, may actually be as worthy of praise as the later axeman, particularly as his fills on the Willie Dixon cover and the album's title track are at once playful, skillful, and sound cool as fuck. David Ellefson has had his plaudits in the past, though 'Peace Sells' must be his best performance in Megadeth colours, doing way more than scraping around the guitarists and frequently putting his own stamp on fast and more measured sections alike. Gar Samuelson has not been endowed with the most robust drum tone on the 2004 remastered version that I'm listening to (there are a few beats that sound like he is throwing drum sticks at his kit from across the room), but he is super tight when the string players take off with their right hands and scatters fills about whenever he can. Perhaps his proudest moment might be the transition between 'Good Mourning' and 'Black Friday', where he rolls around all the drums before locking into a rock-solid beat.
For all this praise, however, there are some weak points in this album. The first one is the production, which I feel is imperfect on both the old and newer versions (I haven't heard the 25th anniversary version, but I have the original remaster). On the 2004 addition, everything still sounds pretty loose, with Ellefson's bass twanging tastily at times and rattling annoyingly at others, while OlympicSharpshooter's about "chickenscratch" guitars is apt in several places, where the E-string gets busy and we don't get a lot of joy from any real notes, just speed. A few of the solos also become rather abrasive at high-pitch, though that's not such a problem, since it gives these parts a physical punch that they would otherwise lack, guitars occasionally being thin. The second problem is a much more regular one, and that is the fact that 'Bad Omen', but especially 'Devil's Island', don't match up to the others in terms of quality or interest, remaining fairly predictable, though not completely bland. Since the other songs needn't resort to speed in order to surprise, these songs feel restrained in comparison whatever their pace, even if I rather suspect there are a fair few thrash bands who would have made them focal points of any of their own albums. The most bizarre complaint I have is that no else seems to be able to hear the totally obvious chant of "Neville's island" replacing the actual title of that song at some point in its latter half.
So, to sum up, 'Peace Sells' is a pretty obvious classic and plays more like an obvious classic nowadays than a few other 1986 peers, despite the signs of weakness in the production. There is a whole lot of quality packed into a relatively short album and even the less essential songs are exactly that - less essential, rather than inessential. The real selling point, however, must be the entirely unpeaceful attitude of this release, since it never lets up in terms of creativity and rarely gives the listener pause for thought either, unless that thought is, "Fuck, I like this."
Killing Is My Business, And Business Is Good was an excellent debut and a sure sign that this band could go on and easily emulate it. It was fast and heavy but the production value left a little to be desired. However, this band was in their infancy but quickly formed a musical relationship which culminated in the making of a phenomenal album [A word I will continue to use a lot for this album]; perhaps one of the greatest, if not the greatest heavy metal albums of all time.
Peace Sells...But Who's Buying is a phenomenal album which displays great musicianship from Mustaine, Ellefson, Poland and Samuelson. Every aspect of this album is a major musical and technical step up from the previous album, and all of this achieved while the aforementioned were high as a kite with the latter two members becoming somewhat unruly. Perhaps this "high as a kite" situation enhanced the quality of this album, but then that's a topic for another discussion.
Peace Sells was inventive, and Mustaine was miles ahead of his rivals Metallica. [there, I mentioned the other band] This album has it all; it has the attitude, the aggression, the band members have the technical skills to execute the tracks with complete precision. They are in control as musicians but there's still this feeling about them being out of control and this "feeling" is projected out of this album. The song writing covers a range of topics but maintains a conceptual unity. Not a moment is wasted on this album by which I mean we don't get the pointless extra riffing and poor solos often heard on their peers albums i.e. MOP and AJFA.
The musical relationship between the band is phenomenal. Mustaine was the driving force, Ellefson was the accomplished wing man and Poland and Samuelson were unruly musical virtuosos. They complimented each other like no other thrash band at the time. Both Poland and Samuelson were from a jazz/rock fusion background and this gave the music a unique sound, and musical edge. It wasn't a one dimensional thrash fest; they [Poland and Samuelson] gave the album a subtle melodic, rhythmic, and harmonic texture while Mustaine and Ellefson also providing musical texture, gave the album its anger and aggression.
The song structures are also interesting. If we revert back again to Killing Is My Business, the title track along with a couple of other songs use a chorus in the outro. This is also applied to Peace Sells. Tracks such as Wake up Dead, the title track, Devils Island and My Last Word all use this kind of song structure. It's not a unique style but it's competently achieved and is another reason why this album gets plus points.
To sum up Mustaine succeeded in making one of the best heavy/thrash metal albums of all time. It's one of Megadeth’s finest moments, and it's my personal favourite, although Rust in Peace sits comfortably alongside it. This album gets a 10/10.
Killing Is My Business...And Business Is Good! was intended to be the fastest heaviest record by the most dangerous band in the world but that terrible production and comical cover ruined Mustaine & co.’s honest effort. However, it achieved certain success in the American underground scene and took the attention of the major label Capitol. Now that the band had refined their sound by extensive touring, having a record on which they started defining an own identity behind them and eventually finding the right producer (Mr. Randy Burns), they we’re ready to take revenge on their eternal rivals (wasn’t that their main objective back in the early days?). Peace Sells...But Who's Buying? meant a huge improvement musically and technically for the band – acclaimed by Lars himself, it reflects the great musicianship of these uncontrolled angry kids, which certainly redefined the concept of the whole subgenre, along with other vital records of that glorious year.
The opening classic “Wake Up Dead” and title-track are the only straight-forward tunes of the pack (excluding the Willie Dixon cover, of course), even though their level of difficulty is smaller compared to every other album song, they offers a competent configuration, whose spine are those incendiary riffs that introduce distinct sections and variations of song-structures – guitar lines evolving fluidly, giving the music versatility and continuity. Aggression and velocity take greater control on that number; those essential thrash elements are omnipresent as well on “Bad Omen” and “The Conjuring”, which on other hand present a more technical composition, bigger progression and detail of sequences of tempos, instrumentally richer and more advanced. Definitely, Megadeth have achieved a superior sound, still thrashy and ferocious, introducing truly frantic rhythms – yet putting attention on alternative characteristics as melody, complexity and certain sophistication too. Undoubtedly, as the epic “Good Mourning/Black Friday” demonstrates in particular, these guys are working harder on instrumental passages, the development of riffs and the diversity of tempos and sections, displaying admirable talent and creativity. So their music is now significantly perfectionist and polished but maintaining intact Mustaine & co.’s innate philosophy of velocity and heaviness. “Devil’s Island” increases the complication of the music, its variety and heterogeneity adding certain touch of melody among the however predominant supremacy of dynamism and roughness, exposing a sophisticated vision, which is no longer putting emphasis on brutality and energy only, in contrast with the primitive perspective of most subgenre groups by 1986 – meticulousness, rigor and precision of tunes as “My Last Words” make a big difference from the dominant poor technical level and rudimentary execution of early thrash stuff, making Megadeth’s methodology and potential unique.
Peace Sells...But Who's Buying? was absolutely innovative, ahead of its time completely as most groups were still stuck on a primitive sound and technical limitations, abusing of clichés and topics, being intolerant with any musical element besides aggression and speed. As I mentioned, Megadeth didn’t only have the necessary skills to execute their songs with efficiency – they also were ambitious song-writers, capable of composing something musically advanced and challenging. The exhibition of complexity and virtuosism is stunning, Mustaine & his team control technique and speed totally, the performance of the most intricate loose sections is absolutely professional and accurate. Unlike other bands by that time, direction of all that velocity is reasonably determined and progression ain’t excessively pompous or exhausting – the vigor of the music is contributing to its development and diversity, not taking absolute control, serving a simplistic scheme and these guys are able to display complication and progression in less than 8 minute overlong songs as well. Melody ain’t denying the essence of the music, which remains crude and intense so as you can see, they eluded the weak spots the other Big 3 couldn’t escape from. The harmony between each member of this formation is fantastic too; you couldn’t find such musicianship in other thrash acts around – the jazzy combo Poland-Samuelson is giving this material a singular touch with unusual textures and details, making an unusually ideal combination with Mustaine & Ellefson’s rage, fury and arrogance. And those amusingly nihilistic lyrics are providing the group of a dark imagery they’d later dispose of, that you can’t expect the current line-up to bring back, proving that the genuine concept of Megadeth as the band name suggested was truly different from the polite power rock they’re playing nowadays – don’t you feel nostalgic for all this controversy and ferocity?
This is one of the most influential records in the history of metal; it specially explored new possibilities that refused the typical limitations of a subgenre that was still stuck on its earliest primitive stage. Megadeth contributed tremendously to the evolution of this kind of music, fortunately without succumbing to excessive politeness and refinement or tiring progression as most upcoming power thrash bands they notably influenced. Aggression is still here, their punkish attitude and those explicit lyrics remind us how firmly decided Mustaine & co. were to push away the fashionable commercial mainstream trends of glam groups that killed the NWOBHM, though thrash wouldn’t succumb to money and fame yet. It was albums like this that saved heavy metal from disaster and parody, an absolute classic.
Old man: “What is this garbage you’re watching? I want to watch the news”.
Headbanger: “This IS the news!”
Megadeth returns with their second classic and second album in total. Its a very heavy, technical and powerful album. Often advertised as brutal, but to be completely honest only grindcore, deathcore, raw black metal and brutal death metal feel brutal to me (and I only like 3 of the 4) I've just never found music to be extremely brutal. The album is less aggressive then before.
The solos shred at quick tempos, calculated, melodic at times, like an all in one combination. They show an impressive amount of skill. A nice sample of virtuosity. The riffs aren't all fast like they were on Killing is my Business. Some go at a midpaced tempo (Peace Sells and The Conjuring) others hit breakneck speed giving a nice diversity between tracks. There are also good melodic moments to be found (intros of Bad Omen and Good Mourning/Black Friday). Pretty well balanced.
The bass keeps up with the tempos, giving a nice backbone. It takes a nice spot in the mix where it can be heard pretty easily. It actually drives songs forward (Peace Sells) which is pretty unusual. He throws in little tricks of his own to remind us that the guitarists aren't the only showcasings of skill of here. The drummer doesn't use all the jazz tricks that were used before but he keeps some nice tempos. He shows his own skill in a way that is a bit more subtle and surprising to hear. He makes sure to use plenty of double pedal as expected from metal drummers and he makes sure to pound it out frequently.
Mustaine's vocals are energetic, enthusiastic and strangely charismatic which makes up for his lack of range and odd voice. Not as aggressive as before but he still spits a bit of venom and does this sort of one man call and response things at times (Peace Sells, where it also seems as if does call and response with the guitar). The composition is solid, the parts work well together instead of battling for your attention, clearly having more thought given to the whole instead of the individual performance.
Standout tracks: Wake Up Dead, Peace Sells and Bad Omen
For my taste, this is the greatest thrash album of all time. This might seem bizarre to some, but this is the one that registers with me the most. Peace Sells is also the album that got me into Megadeth. This has great riffs, an excellent vibe, very good instrumentation, and good lyrics.
This is a great collection of riffs, probably Mustaine's best. Some have stated that the previous album had a greater variety of riffs, but I'm uncertain. Even if it did, there are more great riffs on this than Killing. Compared to Rust In Peace, these riffs are of a very different nature. Those riffs were of a very technical variety. These riffs thrive off a frantic feel. On songs like the Conjuring, song that got me into the band, the riffing has this intense feel as though they could lose control at any moment. Usually the technical variety would do more for me, but I prefer the frantic on here. Most of these are written by Mustaine, but that's pretty much how Megadeth worked back then.
Normally a one-man band like that would get on my nerves, but it is to Mustaine's eternal credit that he didn't demand the spotlight. He gathered talented musicians around him, and he gave them plenty of breathing room. The solos on here are quite good, and I can more easily distinguish between the two. Poland has an interesting style, jazz adapted to metal. It's common for a rhythm section to do that, but not a guitar. As far as I know, there's Iommi, Poland, and Skolnick. I enjoy various amounts by all these guys, and I will say that Poland's jazz-fusion is very interesting in its own right. Gar is also from a fusion background, but it's not as obvious here as it was on the debut. Don't mistake me, his performance on here is still pretty good, but it's a little simpler than what it was. Dave's bass is very audible on here. If you can't hear him, you're not listening. Aside from his classic intro, he has some very good parts on Devil's Island and Black Friday. In general, I'd actually argue that this is his best performance. He might have grown in technique later on, but this is his most enjoyable.
There is still some of the dirtiness found on the debut, but it works better here. The lyrics aren't of the political nature that he would become known for, but they're more serious than the debut. They possess an underlying sense of social discontent, and this is helped by the grimy production and atmosphere. This would be where the punk influence comes in, as much of this was par for the course in punk a mere few years prior. Mustaine's vocals as well likely have punk origins. I could also draw a parallel to Killers, as a punk-informed metal album, and much like that album there are several songs dealing with the streets. Taken as a whole, the vibe is a very aggressive, punky look at the world.
Mentioning influences, this album is as diverse as the previous reviewers have claimed. Some early Maiden is evident on Last Words, Mustaine's vocal delivery hearkens to Henry Rollins, AC/DC influence is detectable from place to place, aspects of the instrumentation retain its fusion origins, and there's some Priest and Sabbath tossed in for good measure. For most bands, this would be a horrific mishmash. On this album, they make it work quite well and consistently. Even the weak song on here, the blues cover, ends up being quite fun and worth hearing.
There is not a thrash album I enjoy more than this one, only one or two even come that close. As far as metal as a whole goes, this is still easily top five. I would honestly say that this is near mandatory to anyone who enjoys any form of metal. Even if punk or hard-rock are more to your liking, there is enough influence visible that the overall quality could push it over for you.
Ah, Peace Sells. When this came out, Megadeth was still a fledgling band. To see their career this strong at only their sophomore debut is an impressive feat indeed. Megadeth would go on to a more consistent, thrash sound for their next couple of albums, but here they work with a unique sound that dares to combine elements unheard of in thrash at the time. The blend of sounds and styles makes this an easy standout in the many-headed beast that is Megadeth's catalog.
Production on Peace Sells...But Who's Buying is phenomenal. Keep in mind, at this time Megadeth were still very much an underground band, which doesn't exactly pay the bills. However, this makes Peace Sells' production all the more impressive. Contrast is nice, no sounds are underplayed, the instrumental tones are crisp, and Mustaine's voice sounds as raw as you would want it to be on a classic 'Deth album. Congrats to Dave and Randy on their efforts.
The writing on Peace Sells...But Who's Buying is fantastic. Dave Mustaine tackles the issues head-on in the title cut and the songs that try to be "spooky" or "demonic" actually succeed in an uncommon stroke of luck for Megadeth. Mustaine's singing is just vicious; he sounds ready to bite your head off. Definitely one of his better vocal performances, if not his best.
Instrumentation is lightning fast. Most of it is great and I have to give Chris Poland a shout out for his phenomenal solos, particularly on the title cut, Wake Up Dead, and Good Morning/Black Friday. Samuelson's drumming is fantastic and his fills are absolutely ridiculous. David Ellefson can rarely be heard, but when he gets his chance to shine, he REALLY shines. Mustaine's riffs are adequate, but lack the structure and finesse of Rust In Peace's many memorable cuts. Poland and the rhythm section, however, manage to pick up all of Mustaine's slack and then some.
This is probably Megadeth's most aggressive album (unless you count So Far, So Good...So What as legitimately aggressive and not just stupid) and puts a heavy emphasis on speed. There are lots of different influences here as I noted previously, and I'm going to acknowledge some more of them here. Mustaine's vocals clearly take some cues from the punk rock greats such as Sid Vicious or Henry Rollins. Songs like Bad Omen or Good Morning invoke a Sad Wings of Destiny-era Priest feel, particularly with their sinister, slow-burning opening sections. Unsurprisingly, there's a little Maiden influence noticeable here and there (The Conjuring, especially), but a metal album having Maiden influence goes without saying.
As far as highlights, the album maintains a very fast, thrashy feel, rarely slowing down except for the occasional intro and the swing tempo of their cover of I Ain't Superstitious (probably the album's low point). It's hard to pick highlights when most of the songs sound the same. That's not necessarily a bad thing in this case. Peace Sells is more "consistent" than repetitive. This isn't Megadeth's best, in my opinion, but it is great (an easy second) and the influences were incredibly groundbreaking at the time. If you're looking for essential thrash metal, definitely pick this one up and give it a few listens.
Megadeth have always been an odd band for me, and more than a bit of a mixed bag. This was the first album I heard by them, from samples on iTunes, and I'll fully admit this right from the bat: When I first listened to those samples, I thought they were a joke band.
Blasphemy? Perhaps, but only to absurdly obsessive elitist faggots. Or, to be more precise (and fairer), I don't really believe in blasphemy; Metal has no sacred cows. Well, it does, but I couldn't care less, and so to me, they don't exist. A feeling that Megadeth's music, their lyrics, and their vocalist are all a big joke is no more an insult than the overstated (and ridiculously obvious) observations of some metalheads that Metallica have meant nothing since the Black Album. As if, and that's the irony - a lot of those people are simply jealous and angry of Metallica's stunning success in becoming full blown rock stars. Sure they'll deny it, but if you look deep enough, it's there.
Anyway, the point I am trying to make is that whether I believed Megadeth's music was a joke or not at the time was purely arbitrary. Anthrax was often jokey, did that make early classics like Among the Living and Spreading the Disease lame? No. Of course, Megadeth's music isn't a joke, and never has been; putting aside Peace Sells's value as a sacred cow (whether or not to be slaughtered), I fully admit to simply having been ignorant when I first heard the album. Wake Up Dead was, to me, very odd, yet not jokey - just odd. The Conjuring sounded a little like a silly attempt at being evil that, in comparison to Slayer, just didn't work. (I still hold this opinion to this day - more on that later) And the title track? Yeah, that one was an oddball. It was this song, with its not all that heavy riffs and its seemingly jokey vibe, that made me think of Megadeth as a joke band for a while. That was, until I realised the lyrics, despite being sarcastic and snarky, were meant to be taken seriously - I had thought of them as a joke because I'd never heard anything like that in metal before. Previously, it was all either depressing doom metal, brutal thrash, vicious death metal, evil and often raw black metal, or classic metal that I thought of at the time as hard rock (that's for another time). Megadeth were thrash, and they were faster than Metallica, but they weren't brutal like Slayer. They were...well, different.
Some point later, I listened to Rust In Peace, and this...well, again, it was odd. Holy Wars worked for me, but the rest of the album didn't. Again, I had trouble connecting with Megadeth.
Finally, I went back to this album, and this time listened to the songs properly.
My opinion changed entirely.
Put basically, no matter what you may think of him as a vocalist, Dave Mustaine is, in my opinion as well as that of many others, a somewhat twisted, yet definite genius of a man. In fact, a twisted genius may be the best way to describe him, on this album especially, which is crammed full of crazy yet workable ideas that all come together as one to form a classic thrash album. Yet, this isn't typical thrash at all...nothing on the album is. It's all unusual, very unique, in that way that simply stands out, and like so many others places Megadeth amongst the top metal acts of all time as much because of that uniqueness as anything else, if not more.
Wake Up Dead exemplifies this in so many ways. The drum and bass only intro that explodes into...well, odd riffage, with Dave's very odd and, here, very low vocals. Almost like he's whispering, or talking drunkenly. Then this crazy solo kicks in, all the while tempo changes galore have already begun...and we haven't even reached the first memorable riff yet. That's just coming up. As the solo fades out, a new riff begins, eventually shifting into that crushing thrash riff that makes use of Mustaine's unique "Spider Chord" style of guitar playing. It repeats four times, then the ending is altered with more Spider Chords...then comes another tempo change, into something even faster, with another crazy solo played over some riffs that sound like they're in the pentatonic scale, except so fast that it's hard to be absolutely sure. Then the song speeds up even more into truly crushing, windmill worthy speeds, with yet more new riffs, now played atonally! Then a somewhat memorable riff kicks in again under Dave's now more prevalent and obvious vocals...and we see that the song is about being found out by your girlfriend after cheating on her. A joke? Not really, as the song's structure indicates. It's odd, frenetic, even disturbing more than funny.
Suddenly it all stops. Then a crushing drumbeat signals the arrival of a new riff - an angry, vicious, slower riff. A few moments later one of the album's greatest solos begins. This is a real killer, a dark harmonic minor scaled solo with a somewhat middle-eastern vibe, but whose real purpose is to sound tense, angry, aggressive, even deathly. The speed and ability of Dave as a guitar player is really pushed to the forefront here. As the solo fades, cries of "WAKE UP DEEEEAAAD!" ring out over the continuing riffage. Finally, after this repeats a couple of times, the song ends with a final, almost forlorn "Wake up dead!".
And all of that, ladies and gentlemen, happened in less than four minutes.
That's Mustaine for ya. Crazy, fucked up on drugs, booze, and chicks, but oh so clever in his own warped manner.
The rest of the album is a similarly bizarre, sometimes schizophrenic affair, with a mixture of slower, sometimes more "normal" songs, mixed with some insanely fast numbers. "The Conjuring" has an intro that tries too hard to be sinister and, in comparison to Slayer, simply doesn't work (this keeping in mind that Hell Awaits was released a year before this album, too). However, once it speeds up, this song is a great thrasher, again with tempo changes, crushing riffs, and crazy solos galore.
The title track is absurdly simple, far simpler than almost anything Metallica was doing at the same time, yet it works. Unlike Metallica, Dave didn't have this hypocritical view of being above MTV. He used it, and it worked. Ironically, he was still less popular than Metallica was even before they released the Black Album. In another silly irony, Metallica changed their tune entirely when they released a music video for "One", then just decided "fuck it" and released the Black Album. I don't hold anything against them for doing that, and in many ways it may simply have been a natural progression. But if they had been less overly anti MTV and anti-commercial from the start, they would probably have got a lot less criticism when they changed, since they wouldn't have been hypocrites.
Anyway, moving on. The point I was trying to make was that Dave didn't care about whether being on MTV made him a sellout or not - he just did it. And yes, Peace Sells is a fairly accessible song by thrash standards. Still, it works, and his snarky, sarcastic delivery is part of that charm. Without it, the song just wouldn't be the same. Once I got used to it, I grew to quite enjoy the song. Not as much as many of the others on the album, but it's still great in its own way. Whether it's a metal classic or not is indisputable, but to me, it's never been more than very good. The lyrics are the best part, both in that they are about being a metalhead (to a point) and just as a general "fuck the system, I'll do as I please" song in favour of individual choice, which is very much a metal thing.
"Devil's Island" is a very straightforward thrasher, probably more straightforward than any other song on the album in fact. It starts off slow and crushing, has a tiny bass interlude, then becomes a speedy crusher. It's a decent song, yet not much more. For this reason, I have to place it as amongst my least favourite songs on this album (along with the Willie Dixon cover). It's not bad, just very ordinary, which by Megadeth standards is a bit of a bummer.
Now we come to one of this album's true masterpieces. Good Mourning...Black Friday is one of the heaviest, darkest, most aggressive, ugly, nasty, vicious, and fucked up thrash songs not in the category of brutal thrash that you'll find anywhere. By Megadeth standards this is pure evil. Sure it's not that nasty compared to Slayer, Kreator, Sodom, Destruction, Dark Angel, Sepultura, etc, but those all come under the umbrella of brutal thrash, which Megadeth does not. As such, this song is extremely dark and a really vicious thrasher, probably one of the most extreme songs Dave ever wrote.
It begins ever so slowly, calmly, yet in a sinister way, with a doomy, gloomy vibe suited to a song about a crazed serial killer. The solo here is phenomenal; filled with emotion, bluesy, and dark as fuck, and it just plain works. Continuing over the clean, creepy intro riffs, the song then explodes into heaviness around the 1 minute mark, with the clean guitars overtaken by the distorted ones. The solo then disappears, to be replaced by more clean riffs, except by this point, they are building up and up, tension mounting, reaching a deeper and deeper level, while Dave's vocals appear, now properly after his brief "Good Mourning" exclamation earlier. "Hey, I don't feel so good...something's not right...something's coming over me...what the fuck is this...?" Boom! That pick slide, and the guitars explode along with Dave! "WHHHOOOOOOAAAAAA!" DUN, DUN, DUN, DUN DUN - DUN DUN DUN, DUN, DUNNNNN...it goes on and on.
Then it changes. Very abruptly. Screaming riffage kicks in, along with a new solo, before it all stops again. Then a new riff begins. Some of the most crushing speeds yet heard on the album now can be heard in earnest, along with a crazed performance by Dave. The song stays this way until the end, a maelstrom of madness suited to a twisted, killer looney. Something's not right, indeed.
"Bad Omen" is another very dark number, but rather more 'normal' when compared to its predecessor. After a sinister intro, it gets heavy, with some odd sounding pick slides that work very well. Afterwards it's just a straightforward thrasher, but a hell of a lot better overall than "Devil's Island".
Now the cover. I'm sorry, but covers of this nature have never really appealed to me, and I'm rather grateful that this stopped following So Far, So Good, So What. I mean, a blues cover on a thrash album? Yes, I know that without blues there would be no rock, thus no hard rock, thus no metal, and thus no thrash...but still, this just doesn't really work. It comes across as very light and silly.
Thankfully, one cannot say the same about the very last song here, which is a masterwork in almost every way. "My Last Words" opens with a somewhat sinister clean guitar intro, before the distortion kicks in, but without drums, so no actual heaviness...yet. Then the song gets very bluesy, but heavy and fast as fuck. Very much like speed metal here, as much as thrash if not more, but that doesn't matter - Megadeth's unique character has always made them standout, usually in a good way, and this is no exception. Well, the riffs are a little repetitive, I'll admit. I wish it wasn't just the same two riffs repeated ad nauseam for over two minutes. In fact, this is a rather annoying point that could have easily been averted - Dave has more than enough writing ability to have come up with a new riff. Unfortunately he doesn't, not until about 3.10 into the song, at which point everything changes. A vicious (I've really overused that word on this review) speed metal riff kicks in, and the song gets really FUCKING FAST. Seriously. This cross into something almost insane is what makes the song so special. The solo is also phenomenal here, with tons of melody, a few arpeggios, and a great vibe. Finally, the song closes with the same riffs and Dave screaming: "You! Come on! Next victim! Your...turn to DIE!". The only silly part is that the song is about Russian Roulette, which is a game usually played by choice. Nevertheless, what a closer.
So yeah. This album is a masterpiece in almost every way, with a couple of weaker moments. You've got killer songs (pardon the pun) like Wake Up Dead, Good Mourning, and My Last Words. You've got great songs in The Conjuring and Bad Omen. You've got a good song in the title track. And you've got an average song in Devil's Island, plus a barely average cover of Willie Dixon's "I Ain't Superstitious".
I've added this up to around 90. The album is great, hugely influential, and some parts of it are masterful. Suffice it to say, looking past the weaker elements that are still here, if you are a fan of thrash, or any metal at all, this is an album you cannot do without. Sure it's got some bad spots, and some rough edges here and there (remember, Megadeth at this point were still a fairly young band - Mustaine's genius aside, they were youthful and in some ways even inexperienced - something that would change drastically by Rust in Peace), but that's part of the charm. That wild abandon, sheer madness in places worthy only of a heavy metal musician. At the end of the day, Peace Sells, for all its flaws, is a winner.
Because this album just fucking rocks.
Many people know that Megadeth are my favorite band, and Peace Sells is just one of the reasons why. This, my friends, is one of the most unique thrash metal albums ever released. The sound here hasn't been replicated to this day, which is a testament to Megadeth's brilliance. This is where Mustaine and the gang really set out to make an album would turn James Heitfeld's wet dreams turn into nightmares. Killing Is My Business was an excellent debut album, but Peace Sells was just better. PSBWB took all the basic proponents of KIMB, ironed out the rough parts and maximized all the positives, while bringing some new ideas into the fray, all at the same time.
One of the things they ironed out was Mustaine's vocals. His vocals on KIMB were tired and uninspired; not something you'd expect from someone who (at the time) wanted to beat the shit out of Metallica. Mustaine sounds genuinely angry here, something he could not replicate again for 21 years. Another small but not insignificant thing that they managed to turn around was the tracklisting. The tracklisting on KIMB's was a strange affair, to say the least, with the Mechanix and Looking Down The Cross pairing sticking out like a sore thumb. The third thing which Megadeth attended to was the production. Now, the production on KIMB sucked balls, and I actually like the remastered version of KIMB better because the riffs can actually be heard. In Peace Sells, the production is just perfect. The riffs can be heard clearly (except for the odd moment when the riffs get drowned in the drumming.) Its great that the bass is higher in the mix, because there's nothing like the driving sound of a bass to pick up a song. If you are new to Megadeth or haven't heard Peace Sells, I suggest that you listen to the original version of Peace Sells instead of the remastered because the production on the remastered version is complete jackshit.
As for things they improved on, the aggression stands out. People argue that KIMB was Megadeth's most aggressive album, but I disagree. Peace Sells is more aggressive than KIMB, and in a more controlled manner. Remember children, aggression doesn't need to be wild. Controlled aggression is at times much better than just wild aggression because when your aggression is controlled and held firmly in place, you seem more menacing than you really are. The aggression in KIMB was juvenile and laughable at times, while here in Peace Sells it's mature.
Megadeth brought some new ideas into this album as well. Poland's jazzy solos are more prominent than before, and conjure up a dark and evil atmosphere, even in some of the more “bouncy” songs like Wake Up Dead and My Last Words. This feature of the album is sadly overlooked, despite the fact that the atmosphere was one of the defining points of Peace Sells.
So far I've talked only about the pro's. What about the cons? To sum it up... the riffs. Don't get me wrong, the riffs are fantastic. But they don't show a lot of variety. Almost all of them sound the same, with the exception of some of the riffs in Good Mourning/Black Friday. Mustaine's riff tank almost dried up in KIMB and Peace Sells drained it completely. This actually explains why Megadeth's first two albums sound so different from the rest. But if I'd have to choose between KIMB and Peace Sells, and if my choice was to be based on the riffs only, I'd take Megadeth's debut over their sophomore. This is just one of the two flaws here, the other being the lack of memorable songs. Rust In Peace had timeless classics in Holy Wars, Hangar 18 and Tornado of Souls. Peace Sells has none. All the songs are good, and the album is very consistent... but there's nothing here that stands out as being timeless.
Overall, it's a great album. The two small problems only manage to dock 1% from the album, which really says a lot about the album's quality and consistency. Listen to it if you haven't, and you WILL enjoy it. To dislike this album would be the highest form of denial.
(Note to reader: “Peace Sells” refers to the album and not the song.)
Peace Sells is one of the most important thrash albums of all time. This album changed Thrash metal and even other metal genres. Many bands consider Megadeth to be one of their prime influences. However is it still an album that every metalhead should have? Are you better off listening to newer Thrash albums despite the increased quality of the new remixed and remastered version?
I don't think so. While some songs are a bit bland at times, it still has a couple of the best Thrash songs there are out there. Everything sounds a bit predictable in parts though but there are newer Thrash albums that sound quite a bit more predictable.
The production does have it's flaws. The guitars have some unwanted distortion when playing higher notes and sometimes the album sounds like it has been recorded in a basement. Not that it feels like you are with them in the basement. Instead you hear just the negative side of being in the same basement as the band. The vocals are the best example of this. The guitars however are always at least above average. Black Friday even has some of the best riffs of any metal song I know and it's not the only song with impressive guitar work. Bad Omen, Peace Sells, My Last Words and Devils Island all have very good guitarmanship. The bass is a bit mixed bag however. There is the legendary opening of Peace Sells, a bit bland bass on the I Ain't Superstitious cover to the very nice bass again in the last song My Last Words. The vocals have always been the most critized part of Megadeth. Some people can't either stand the vocals at all while others think it isn't great but it fits well. I am one of the last group. The vocals on this album are never superb but they just fit pretty damn well. The production helps at times with this but also sometimes makes the vocals sound a bit worse. The drums are the weakest part of the album. Granted metal drumming in the 80's wasn't impressive most of the time and with Peace Sells it's the same story. The drums are average compared to the other Thrash bands of that era. However if you listen to the songs as a whole you will hear that everything does fit together very well. Sometimes the instruments really enhance each other like in My Last Words.
What does this all make Peace Sells for the newer metal fan? Well, that it is still a very solid release that has aged well. It isn't an album with very complex song structures or just super riffs and solos but that doesn't matter because it sounds very well this way. Peace Sells is still an album every newer metalhead should get and as it looks now it will continue to be an essential must have album forever. It may not an album that leaves you in awe after you listen to it but you will never get tired of it. I'm giving it 85%.
There is no doubt countless stories of children who discovered the phenomenon of metal in their early teens or late pre-teen years, I myself had been subject to such an experience at the dusk of the genre’s prominence. My brother, like many adherents of the 80s metal scene, had decided it was time to hang up his fixation with the seemingly obsolete (in his mind) genre and thus I inherited a sizable supply of audio cassettes and a couple of vinyl records from an era that was fast being forgotten. “Peace Sells”, the album in question, was my first real experience with metal outside of the mainstream glam scene that I had been into as a younger child.
I was taken in by the album for a number of reasons, but the most salient one was my desire to grow as a musician, which was bolstered by the impressive display of instrumental virtuosity expressed both by Dave Mustaine and Chris Poland. The former of the two has a keen sense for riffs and song structure that can be observed in every single song on here, to speak nothing for his agitated pentatonic shredding. The latter’s soloing style is highly unique, blending a powerful dose of technical ability with a rather uncommon mellowness reminiscent of older soloists of the blues/rock persuasion.
The politics of the album obviously took a little while to grow on me, if for no other reason than that a teenager knows only as much as he is taught, and what schools teach children is contrary to the more accurate picture of American politics as portrayed in Mustaine’s lyrics. I still have my share of differences with him on certain things, but I have found his sentiments on the foreign policy and internal policy of the 80s to be highly accurate, particularly the rise of the Christian Coalition and various other malformations of the New Right. Some may look at his current Christianity and see hypocrisy under the guise of maturity, but as a practicing Catholic that loves metal, I can appreciate the courage of both choosing to believe something while simultaneously fighting those who use the same belief as a tool of oppression.
Considering that the thrash genre has often been pigeonholed as one-dimensional (it began this way of course), this album is revolutionary in its measured approach to consistency and variation. “Wake up Dead” places a large emphasis on instrumental sections and lead breaks, being steeped in solos and tempo changes yet having only a small collection of lyrics. “The Conjuring” has a bit more atmosphere to it at the beginning, but follows the same emphasis on riffs, lead and speed that the opening track features. The title track and “Devil’s Island” are the most traditionally formatted of the bunch, feature some fancy bass work, choruses with a lot of sing-along value, in addition to the usual sectional development.
“Good Mourning/Black Friday” is a double feature of sorts that throws some sand into the gears with a quiet and gloomy acoustic/electric intro, before exploding into a blazing fury of speed. “Bad Omen” begins similarly, though the intro is less sorrowful and more menacing and the eventual body of the song is not quite as fast. “I ain’t superstitious” defines the thrash sense of humor, drawing upon the old 12 bar blues model (though obviously elaborated more than is common to that older style) and injecting it with witty yet profane lyrics deriding something absurd. Our closing track “My last words” is another soft intro followed by classic speed/thrash, a final brief break before the last fateful burst of brilliance.
For the prospective buyer, the greatest perk offered by the re-mastered version is 4 songs in their original format as bonus tracks. The principle difference to be observed between the older mixes is the vocal presence, which is somewhat mired by overuse of reverb, which was typical during the 80s. The result is a radical difference in the dimension of the lead vocals and the backup parts that occasionally pop in and out. Although I experienced the original first, I wholeheartedly endorse the changes made, as they have done nothing to corrupt the timeless music contained on here. This is a piece of thrash history that not only championed all the best components of the genre, but also changed my life as a guitarist and musician.
Though these days it seems as though Megadeth is less of a thrash act and more of a standard metal act, back in the late 80's the band was universally considered one of the premier thrash metal bands in the world. When you release albums such as Killing is my Business, Peace Sells…But Who's Buying, and Rust in Peace, it isn't quite hard to achieve those lofty heights. But Megadeth did, and was readily grouped with fellow thrash stars Metallica, Slayer, and Anthrax in a group known as the Big Four of Thrash. 1986 had three of the four Thrash juggernauts (Megadeth, Slayer, and Metallica) releasing albums and each of these albums were incredibly successful, with all three being considered classics in the genre.
Peace Sells is a fan favourite of Megadeth fans for a reason. Very rarely does the band stray from the thrash sound that made them so famous in the metal realm, and the result is a very focused effort. Guitarists Dave Mustaine and Chris Poland show off their skill through countless riffs and solos. These two elements are the basis of Megadeth's lightning fast thrash metal assault, and are both generally the most enjoyable parts of the album. Every track, save for the Willy Dixon cover, I Ain't Superstitious, features this traditional Megadeth sound. However, tracks such as Wake Up Dead, Devil's Island, and Good Morning/Black Friday showcase this talent very well. The album has a raw feel to it, as do many of the old school thrash albums do. Overall, this is definitely my favourite part of the album, and where the band impresses the most.
By many, Dave Mustaine's vocals are not exactly considered among metal's best. Admittedly, I enjoy Dave's singing quite a lot. However, on Peace Sells, he does not give his best performance. Though in tracks like the title cut, he does a very good job, at times, such as in The Conjuring, his effort borderlines on annoying. His trademark snarl is once again present, but at this point in time, it too feels very raw. Albums like Rust in Peace and Countdown to Extinction definitely exhibit a big improvement over this particular album, likely due to the fact that he has had less time to hone his skill (or lack of, according to some). The 2004 re-issue definitely affected his voice positively, as it did away with the poorer sound quality found on the original. Fairly good effort from Mega-Dave, but he's had better moments.
My only concern with the album is quite similar to that of Rust in Peace: the length. At 36 minutes, it's pretty damn short. Now, I'm aware that many of metal's (especially thrash) older records are a lot shorter that they are now, being around the 30-40 minute mark. But I feel the band could have definitely recorded a few more (or at least longer) songs to make this a longer album. Keep in mind that while the 2004 the re-issue contains 20 extra minutes of music, none of the bonus tracks are new material, rather they are just new mixes by Randy Burns.
Peace Sells…But Who's Buying is definitely among Megadeth's better albums. There isn't much to be disappointed about, save for perhaps the length. A bona-fide thrash metal masterpiece, it possesses everything a fan of metal could ask for. Rapid-paced, heavy riffs that scream through the ears of listeners for the better part of 36 minutes; excellent musicianship from the entire band; and top notch song writing all propel this album to the top of the crowded thrash scene. This album is perfect for those who want to get into both Megadeth and metal, as it contains many of the genre's important aspects. It's pretty cheap too.
(Originally written for Sputnikmusic)
I used to be inclined to give this album the backseat among Megadeth’s classic albums, but after listening to it again for this review, it seems I’d truly forgotten how great this album really is. Taking the essential elements that Killing is my Business established and polishing them to near perfection, Peace Sells is one of the best overall displays of Megadeth’s skill in songwriting, technical flair, and intense, high-speed metal destruction.
The album hits hard immediately with the killer track “Wake Up Dead.” It’s a prime example of Megadeth’s increased instrumental skill since their last album. All the riffs are heavy, original, and very easy to headbang to. Guitar solos are frequent and virtuosic. Drumming is pounding and precise. Bass guitar is poignant and incredibly effective. Lyrics are dark and foreboding, as are Dave’s vocals. And that’s just the first track off this album. Every song after gets the same professional treatment. Some feature magnificent clean riffs, but most rely off of intricate, skull-crushing, distorted rhythms. A lot of the band’s most memorable riffs, leads, and lyrics appear on this album. The riff halfway through “Wake Up Dead,” the bass line throughout “Peace Sells,” the extended intro of “Good Mourning/Black Friday,” all the stuff of legends.
And it’s not just the music that’s spot on. The album just sounds cool. Far from being overproduced, the mix adds to the incredibly dark atmosphere already created by instruments. Dark indeed is the atmosphere, also added to by the lyrics and vocals. Dave Mustaine is criticized as being a sub-par vocalist, but his signature snarl adds an unprecedented amount of necessary evil to every track. The only time this isn’t the case is on the cover “I Ain’t Superstitious.” Here his ‘singing’ actually sounds pretty good, however raspy. A lot of people don’t like the way this song fits into the album, but it’s just a fun, cool mixture of blues and thrash to change up the pace. It’s a lot more well done than the blues thrash on Violent Playground’s so-called “Thrashin’ Blues” LP anyway. As for the lyrics on the album, they’re as dark as the music, with Dave beginning to express his political agenda a bit. Other topics hit on are black magic, Russian roulette, and mass slaughter.
This album is arguably Megadeth’s best release, though that can be argued about any of their first four albums. Regardless of personal preference, Peace Sells is a welcome addition to any metalhead’s collection and a timeless masterwork as far as lyrics, music, and complexity go.
Finally, Mustaine’s monster is properly unleashed on this eight-song terror that offered a slightly more technical countermeasure to his former bandmates’ “Ride The Lightning” album. With rising interest in heavy metal happening during this period, “Peace Sells…But Who’s Buying” is a record that was in the right place at the right time for a group that would be settling down to record albums for that glowing stack of records on the corner of Hollywood and Vine for a good long while. Megadeth’s brand of speed metal was a bit leaner than Metallica’s and much of the time, The General was meaner as well.
Check out the appropriately wicked, standout cut “The Conjuring” for all the proof you need that Megadeth ’86 was a plunge face first into the dark side of musical ambition. Featuring one of Mustaine’s most compelling early arrangements, this track made metal mathematic, burning intensely with an appropriate amount of evil reflective of the one-time black magic dabbling frontman. MTV leaped all over “Peace Sells”, making David Ellefson’s bass line immortal as part of their MTV News theme, inserting the busy riff highly conspicuously into the piece. On “Devils Island”, the group step back into “Killing…” mode, with Gar Samuelson’s snappy snare providing the perfect backdrop for Mustaine and fellow axe-ripper Chris Poland.
Both “Black Friday” with it’s relentless hammering and “My Last Words” display Megadeth focusing on getting the job done with power, stamina and dexterity, while “Bad Omen” comes off as this record’s hidden gem, it’s cold, wicked vibe being the product of an slow building torrent and Ellefson’s spidery bass work. Here, in the early stages of The General’s master battle plan, it’s looking as if someone might have made a mistake by putting Mustaine on a bus home from New York. But there would be even more major battles ahead for this nuclear-powered metal war machine. "Peace Sells..." stands as Megadeth's first major victory in a metal war that is raging still today.
"Peace Sells... But Who's Buying?" A classic of thrash metal of course, and a legendary sophomore from one of the biggest thrash bands, back in the day when they were truly Thrash with a capital T. With some of the heaviest riffs they ever did, they rage away furiously, and the remaster sounds absolutely devastating - now I haven't heard the original, but since Dave wasted all their production cash on heroin and other fun substances, I can't imagine it sounds too good. But whatever, the one I've got sounds brilliant.
The fast, heavy and generally quite technical riff-style of classic Megadeth is ever present, and combined with alot of melodic elements infused perfectly into the riffs, this turns into a thrash album which doesn't sound very much like anything else, and is definitely a must-have for any thrasher.
Songs like "The Conjuring", for example, have riffs that fit into the thrash category, but that are very technical and melodic. That one and "Bad Omen" especially have very jumpy and unusual riffs that are executed very well.
Opening tack "Wake Up Dead" is pretty interesting as well, with a whole bunch of catchy riffs and quite few vocal parts.
The most standard thrash song on here is "Black Friday", which is also one of the best Megadeth songs ever. Mainly single-note riffs demolish everything here, combined with the odd but lethal vocals in classic early Mustaine style. Top that off with the crazy soloing of Mustaine/Poland and you have one hell of a thrasher. "Devil's Island" with it's galloping riffs is also in a more standard thrash vein, but rages away excellently just as well.
For other highlights, we have of course the classic "Peace Sells", with it's quite simplistic but oh so fucking catchy beginning - the lyrics are as classic as it gets, and with hard-hitting midpaced power chords the song is fit for headbanging. Then Dave does another of those classic Megadeth-styled fast and difficult melodic riffs building the song up to a climax and an excellent finish.
And then of course, we mustn't forget the closer "My Last Words". The clean guitar and bass intro build up a very nice atmosphere, and goes into another one of Megadeth's best songs. The main riff is about as cool as that of "Tornado of Souls". It's technical, but unlike the technical shit of prog bands, this is also fucking cool and catchy. Combined with more simple power chords during the fast paced verses we have an awesome set of riffs backed up by excellent driving bass work and insanely catchy, dramatic vocals.
The atmosphere builds more with every second, feeling as the main character (or whatever you wanna call it) in the song gets closer to dying from a thrilling game of russian roulette. The song is later perfected into the dark, sinister breakdown ("Does anybody play!?") and the amazing riff/solo section that follows it. Probably the best Megadeth song ever. It's either this or "Tornado of Souls".
But there really isn't a bad song on here. Dave Mustaine and Megadeth had their very own brand of thrash metal, and he's always done his thing, which he needs respect for. And since he doesn't really follow any standards and does what he wants, a few moments here and there sound a bit "off", but he quickly redeems himself constantly, and all in all, this is an essential thrash masterpiece, though most of you probably know this already.
God, this review needed a fucking rewrite. So here's a rewrite.
I’ve always had a real soft-spot for Megadeth. I think it has something to do with my undying affection for the underdog. In spite of being one of the biggest bands in metal history (sales-wise they’ve gotta be in the top 10) they are always being compared to the incomparable, and it just doesn’t seem fair. Whether or not you love/loved Metallica, they are the biggest metal band in the history of popular music and by light-years. Sales mean approximately shit-all when you’re talking about music, but Dave Mustaine’s undying urge to compete with ‘Tallica is a hallmark of the Megadeth catalogue. Thus Dave is the underdog, and in his hopeless guerrilla war against Metallica there have been precious few wins. Megadeth has been better than temporally adjacent Metallica on certain albums (or songs, or riffs), but never more successful.
Megadeth opened up shop early in the thrash game, but rather than be a baby Metallica Dave began consistently pumping out good to fucking great records that showcased a virtuosity and verve that made them the musician’s choice of the subgenre. On this record, Peace Sells... But Who’s Buying?, this sound is still going through growing pains. It is fast and tricky, but some of these songs come off as half-baked or generic (in that way that only Megadeth songs are generic). The technical play is often rather rockscrabble and some of the songs have transitions that are simply bafflingly wrongheaded. The nuts and bolts of the mine cart aren’t screwed in very tightly, and Dave’s mind is one hell of a treacherous road to travel down in such a rickety contraption. But damn if it isn’t a charming ride, and a ride with squarely classic moments that are as good or better than anything else released in ‘86, probably THE watershed year for thrash. And that my friends, is a damn good sign.
Consider the Grade A riffing on “My Last Words”, the gleefully desperate performance by Mustaine, the power-thrash ride out, the lengthy and memorable solo by Chris Poland... Dave had a real feel for how to write quality thrash back in the day, and it says something that he still retained that touch well into the 90s. On the other end of the album “Wake Up Dead” is a perfect intro to the record. It isn’t even that the song is that well thought-out, its just such a great intro when considered as an album opener. The thing begins with a 02:30 riffstorm (really no other word would be correct) before a very brief surge of virtually inaudible mewling indicates that this thing isn’t actually an instrumental before surging into a bloody excellent solo and yep, more fucking riffs.
“The Conjuring” finds Dave trying on one of his ever present over-the-top characters (he’s really one of the few vocalists in metal who goes so far as to do accents during songs) during the intro before giving us a surprisingly smooth solo/riff barrage before finally switching gears into a scrap-metal KIMB riff, before dropping into a sick groove for the chorus, back into a spiky thrash riff and then, more killer headspinning groove-thrash. Every time you think know where Dave is going he goes somewhere else, all the while branding it with an echo-heavy distorted lyric that drips with demon wax.
I use “The Conjuring” as an example of how this album refuses to do what you expect of it. I mean, few if any thrash bands had attempted the almost danceable bass-hook on the front half of “Peace Sells” and few would even after. But that isn’t because it didn’t work. It’s more likely because they couldn’t pull it off. Dave Mustaine has always had a little Alice Cooper in his blood and even hardcore thrashers were willing to follow him as he spun his fiendishly creative and punk-drenched little manifesto because he was so damned entertaining doing it. I don’t discount Dave Ellefson’s gift in this area either; he is certainly one of the most versatile bassists in the thrash game and the fact that he could actually inject a bit of funk into Megadeth on this track and make it into one of the best-loved intros in all of metal is an accomplishment of no little merit. And hell, thank Chris Poland for those police-siren lead fills that give the song more edge than it might’ve otherwise possessed.
For all the creativity Peace Sells has, it is riven through with filler. We’re looking specifically at “Bad Omen” and “Devil’s Island” here, both pretty uninspired and derivative thrash that might’ve turned heads back in ‘84 but are now swallowed whole by the five good-to-classic songs around it and the incredible surplus of thrash glory outside of the album. It isn’t that they’re bad (“Bad Omen” is actually quite good, with its “Gates of Babylon”-like verse riff), its more that they have been completely obscured by the rest of the album and there’s really no reason to trouble your brain to recall them. And kindly ignore the hideous “I Ain’t Superstitious” which, in spite of a fun vocal performance, is one for the refuse pile. Why was Megadeth always so terrible at covers anyway?
Peace Sells is also scarred by heaviness-robbing overly trebly production (like Rust in Peace), poor mixing (Dave’s voice is way too low), and a somewhat frequent occurrence of what I’ll call “chickenscratch guitar” which refers to the way the guitars are sometimes too raw and have a tendency to poke and prod at the ears. Dave’s yowling cat-in-heat vocals are also quite underdeveloped here, which is sometimes good (“PAINT THE DEVIL ON THE WALL!”) and sometimes... not.
All in all, well worth getting but certainly bearing the marks of a band that hasn’t quite gotten their shit together yet. For every classy moment (gore-soaked epic “Good Mourning/Black Friday”) you get an amateurish mistake. In the end, Peace Sells... But Who’s Buying? makes up for its short-comings in hapless charm, devil-may-care attitude, and oh yeah, neckwrecking riffs. Good shit in my book, but there would be better stuff to come.
Stand-Outs: “Peace Sells”, “My Last Words”, “Good Mourning/Black Friday”
Following Killing is My Business..., Megadeth made a record that was tenfold its superior. Mustaine addresses some of the problems with the first one here, fixes them, and takes a huge leap in terms of songwriting, as huge as (dare I say it) Metallica did when they released Ride the Lightning. The insanely fast tempos from the debut still abound on this one, but they are complemented by slower sections, some very melodic and tasty leads, and some excellent clean guitar (see Mustaine's instrumental, Good Mourning).
Of course, you can't have classic thrash without speed, and the boys deliver here, with astounding results. Some of the riffs on this record are just mindblowing: they're not as technical (generally speaking) as most of the stuff on Rust in Peace, but they're raw as fuck and have a hell of a groove. The leads are as stunning as always, with Mustaine's blisteringly fast pyrofretnics pairing up nicely with Poland's fluid, fusiony style. One of the tunes that illustrates this combo most effectively is the anthemic title track: Poland and Mustaine sear the joint with excellent fills, in what is quite simply some of the most exciting guitar playing to ever grace a metal record. Personally speaking, I prefer this guitar attack to the Rust in Peace era slightly. The rhythm section of Gars and Ellefson is also very good, even though the drums are a bit buried in the mix and the bass has a slightly ridiculous sound: it's very loud. Mustaine's vocals, as always, are a bit of an aquired taste: either you like em or you don't. His snarling, growling delivery on the record is very effective tohugh, even if it's almost unintelligible.
Highlights are Good Mourning/Black Friday, Wake Up Dead, Peace Sells, My Last Words, Bad Omen, hell the whole album. From the incredibly scatching eastern-tinged leads in the opener, to the tapped frenzy that comprises most of Devil's Island, to the insanely fast, Maidenish glory of My Last Words, there isn't a bad moment on this album. I've heard quite a few people complain about the cover of Willie Dixon on the record, but it's extremely fun to listen to: I mean, a thrash band doing blues should be enough to pique your curiosity.
I think it's amazing the way Megadeth and Metallica carved up the world of technical thrash between them: everything we still hear today is basically descended directly from them, with new bands shamelessly aping their style, or mixing it with others. While Megadeth have had a very, very inconsistent career, this record (and Rust in peace) more than justify their fame and the respect they command in the metal community. Highest possible recommendation.
This is where Megadeth really got their shit together. This album manages to be both hyper-brutal at times, while some of the melodic leads rival Judas Priest and Iron Maiden, especially during the last song.
There are some pretty standard thrashers here: Wake Up Dead, and Devil's Island are two good examples. Both are nicely developed, and have some well-done riffs, much more so than the previous Deth album. The Conjuring is also in this vein.
Peace Sells is a pretty interesting song - it's a bass-driven midpaced headbanging number with only one overt time change, but it's still catchy as Hell. Black Friday and Bad Omen are both insanely fast thrashers - they're both only around 180bpm but have that quadruple-time (!) single note riff to drive the music along.
The two songs that must really be noted are My Last Words and Good Mourning - both show off the flashy guitar work that Dave Mustaine was capable of. Good Mourning is a nice little intro to Black Friday (I have this album on tape, so I'm not 100% sure where Good Mourning ends and Black Friday starts, but it's a really cool melodic build-up intro - I think it starts right after the fast solo over the first heavy riff, the really catchy 3 note one that is why we're noting Good Mourning).
My Last Words is the best song Megadeth has ever done, beating out Tornado of Souls by a small margin. It's similar to "Looking Down the Cross" in general, but the lead guitar work is absolutely incredible. It's more a speed metal song than an all-out thrasher - it would actually not be all that out of place on the Painkiller album! This thing is just complete fucking ownage - you!! You're next to die!!
There's one throwaway track - the cover of I Ain't Superstitious, but that's what skip buttons are for (unless you have it on tape, in which case you are forced to suffer.) Most people tend to remember this album for the insane brutality, but the lead guitar work must also be mentioned - the two together are what make this album so good.