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The most evident characteristic of “Peace Sells…But Who’s Buying?” is the sheer progression from their first album, “Killing is My Business…And Business is Good!”. This also had the luck of being released in 1986, considered the golden year of thrash release’s by some.
As mentioned this albums most remarkable note is its progression from their debut. This is the largest single progression that Megadeth would make in their career, most other ones being minor or much less far reaching as this one. The production of “Peace Sells…But Who’s Buying?” is momentously improved from their debut, and along with the better songwriting make for a better album on those two aspects alone.
One of the main changes is the advancement in Dave Mustaine’s vocal abilities. On “Killing is My Business…And Business is Good!” it was much more of a whiney instead of a sneer on this album. Also it seems that his vocal aptitude has grown much more.
Other advancements are their newfound grasp of rhythm and melody. The bass and rhythm guitar take hold and drive the album. They have also given up just being fast to be fast, and allow the album to flow naturally. Also the songs are much more developed and throughout the album.
The main focus is still Dave Mustaine’s vocals and guitar work, which, with his ability, especially on guitar, isn’t a problem at all. As said his vocals have progressed from the debut, but are still very much an acquired taste.
Also on guitar is Chris Poland. And once again his guitar work is solid, but this time around it has a much more dual lead attack quality to the album.
Along the same lines, Dave Ellefson’s bass work has progressed, and on this album it establishes itself as a definite driving force. Listen to the opening of both “The Conjuring” and “Peace Sells” to understand this in full. Gar Samuelson provides drums for this album. He does a very good job, however the mixing of this album has the drums pushed back somewhat.
As for highlights on “Peace Sells…But Who’s Buying?” you have to look at basically the whole album. Of course the title track, “Peace Sells”, is an absolute anthem and career defining song, but that’s just the peak of the already above average material. Even “I Ain’t Superstitious” has a certain enjoyable quality to it. But is must be stressed that this album is good from the first note to the last.
Overall this is Megadeth’s defining work, even if it might not be their best, and even this is pretty damn good. Also, this was released in 1986 making it irresistible to compare it to other great thrash albums of that year incredible year, most notably Metallica’s “Master of Puppets”. Overall this is highly recommended to all fans of thrash, both on the significance of it, and the actual material on it.