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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)