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Is this the most complete heavy metal album ever?! I previously wrote a review about Megadeth's "Peace Sells" and continuously said that it was "phenomenal." I stated verbatim "perhaps one of the greatest, if not the greatest heavy metal albums of all time" but also noted that Rust in Peace "sits comfortably alongside it," and it does. It's actually superior from a technical perspective and the writing is better developed. Therefore I think that "Rust in Peace" is Megadeth's most accomplished and definitely one of the greatest heavy metal albums of all time.
The question is why is Rust In Peace so great? The first reason why this album is great is because of tone. I've previous criticized the album Youthanasia for the guitars being "tuned down" but Rust in Peace has the perfect tuning for this musical genre. The second reason is due to the fact that Mustaine enlisted two exceptional musicians. This was the third incarnation of Megadeth and that revolving door of musicians didn't hinder them in the slightest. In fact both Marty Friedman [guitar] and Nick Menza [percussion] would elevate Megadeth to new musical heights. Just on the subject of musician change, to emphasize my point, Metallica [there! I mentioned that other band] have been praised for not having a revolving door, but this has been a major flaw. Unfortunately Ulrich couldn't fire himself, and Hammett had his limitations and should have been replaced after Ride the Lightning.
Mustaine on the other hand is an accomplished lead and rhythm guitarist, as is evident from past work, and this has culminated in the creation of some great technical riffs and solos on this album. The tracks have multiple sections, brilliant changing time signatures and not only excellent solos from Mustaine but a phenomenal debut performance from Friedman. It's a credit to Mustaine for enlisting a guitarist who is more skillful than himself. It reveals Mustaine's mindset; the overriding factor in his decision making is to always produce the best album possible.
Marty Friedman's lead work is phenomenal. The solos are lightning fast but also have some melodic style. His licks are excellent and he shows some great versatility i.e. on "the Punishment Due," there's the use of an acoustic guitar played in a middle eastern style. I'll briefly mention the aforementioned track, full title being "Holy Wars....The Punishment Due," which is the first on the album, and is a good example of those changing time signatures I just mentioned. And lastly on Friedman, his rhythm sections compliment Mustaine superbly.
Nick Menza has to get another mention; he had a good reputation at the time and it was a stroke of good fortune that he was Chuck Behler's [former drummer] tech. His addition to the band made the third incarnation arguably the best in their history, and he [Menza] totally enhances this album with his style, with the precision of the double bass and the inventiveness of those drum patterns, rolls and fills. He neither under or overplays it; the drum track perfectly compliments all of the other rhythm sections, and this is an excellent achievement taking into consideration the fact that each track has a series of tempo shifts.
To sum up Rust in Peace has all of the fast elements that we'd become accustomed to with thrash metal. Throw into the mix it's complexities and subtle melody and what we have is the pinnacle of the thrash metal sub-genre. While it's not my personal favourite (that I attribute to Peace Sells), it's still their greatest album. It's the greatest thrash metal album and perhaps the "greatest" heavy metal album of all time. I'd give it a perfect score of 10/10.
1990, the year when thrash achieved its maximum culmination, long gone were those primitive mid-80’s records of pure brutality and clumsiness – those enthusiastic thrasher kids had grown-up and become real musicians (at least, most of them) that took into consideration alternative elements in their music, particularly melody and progression. From Kreator to Artillery, including Destruction, Annihilator and Overkill, the big daddies of the subgenre eventually defined their distinctive sound and character, making thrash advanced, superior and versatile musically with greater songs and ambitious formulas, on which they displayed their entire potential as performers and composers. Megadeth went to another level too, as soon as Young & Behler were replaced by Friedman & Menza, respectively – nice additions for the group, which definitely found a stable formation with bigger possibilities and musicianship, able to offer a more technical attempt in contrast with the predominant simplicity of So Far, So Good…So What!.
The immense opening cut “Holy Wars...The Punishment Due” makes clear from the very beginning that Megadeth are firmly determined to elude the minimalism of the previous record by increasing considerably the difficulty and complexity of the music. It’s not only a truly dexterous tempo of absolute velocity which makes that tune complicated, the unpredictable configuration and heterogeneity of song-structures are peculiarities that differentiate the band’s new methodology from anything they ever attempted before. The excellent balance between strong melodies and overwhelming aggression, the impossible tempo shifts, starts and stops, meticulous breaks, accents, along with those simply extraordinary shredding solos make this song unforgettable and incredibly solid. “Hangar 18” is another significantly ambitious title, incorporating an initially accessible tempo, less thrashy and more melodic, featuring the most exquisite harmonies ever conceived by this guitar combo, presenting a duel of solos in the final section that undoubtedly demonstrates the complete harmony of this ultimate Megadeth incarnation. So it’s all more sophisticated and progressive but rage and fury are still there, check out “Take No Prisoners” and its surprisingly – yet effective composition or the insatiable speed of “Poison Was The Cure”, both are the most energetic thrashy moments on the album on which aggression and velocity are more notable, always combined with superior technique and that inevitable touch of melody. Because certainly, Mustaine & co. are putting on melody bigger emphasis as numbers as “Lucretia” and “Tornado Of Souls” demonstrate – more harmonies, intricate licks and refinement is what those are all about, nearly denying the essence of thrash and adding slightly insistent choruses you can sing along. Title-track and “Five Magics” bring back luckily some heaviness and dynamism, offering admirable progression and lethal riffs – intensity increases as Menza’s speeds those frantic tempos up and Dave spits out those furious lyrics.
Rust In Peace is considered as the album on which these guys intended to push away thrash to become accessible and polite, it’s true they sound now undeniably commercial and melodic but the characteristic attitude and arrogance of the subgenre is still present. A majority of the compositions are truly symphonic and complex, melody takes greater control than ever before, even Mustaine’s vocals seem supposed to sound cleaner and neat somehow but there are raging tunes in the album as well, presenting total thrash section of loose rhythms and devastating riffs, so this is more like a transition between Mustaine & his team’s vintage thrash stuff and the upcoming modern heavy metal/rock material. As most of their peers by 1990, they no longer focus all their efforts on velocity and roughness – progression and sophistication are indispensable now to define the direction and character of the music. The incorporation of a virtuoso of the level of Friedman was undoubtedly essential to make the band’s new pretentious formulas work-out, the precision and talent that this guy brought to Megadeth made them reach another level they might not achieved if Jeff Waters, Dimebag Darrell or Eric Meyer would’ve accepted Dave’s offer. The harmony as I mentioned between the guitar combo is absolute, musically at least they understand and get along with each other perfectly – Mustaine definitely found an equal alter ego, most of his previous companions in the 6-string section didn’t match his level but Friedman almost challenged the lord & master of the group to play harder, louder and faster. Menza provided the songs of consistency and rigor on those impossible rhythms too, he didn’t collapse in those terminal velocity tempos – double bass-drum beats are totally controlled and accurate and the detail and inventiveness of those drum rolls and fills is simply impressive. Lyrical issues are now more serious and adult, the Parental Advisory sticker is no longer on the cover because now Vic has something to important say.
It’s still thrash, it’s still fast and ferocious but evidently, melody and complexity are more crucial elements of their music now, making it versatile, richer and refined unlike the scruffy punkish stuff of the previous record. Rust In Peace represented the splendor of the subgenre, along with some other fantastic albums of 1990 – the incorporation of distinct characteristics to the traditional thrash schemes affected the purity and attitude of the subgenre, which shortly afterwards succumbed to trends and fashions, simplicity and ballads. This record reflected the glory and hugeness of thrash – yet also contributed somehow to its decline and adulteration but whatever, it’s still one of the most transcendental works in the history of metal, Megadeth’s greatest, most talented effort.
Rust in Peace is Megadeth's 4th album and one of their most well acclaimed with many referring to it as their greatest album. It definitely is a solid album and a worthy listen for any thrasher.
The lyrics deal with war (Holy Wars... the Punishment Due) and political conspiracies (Hangar 18). Dave's vocals are at a highpoint here. His enthusiatic and energetic delivery is hard to match. His singing is as good as he'll ever get, his voice lacks certain qualities but he is very charismatic and knows how to make up for it.
Megadeth sticks more to midtempos on this album, (Holy Wars, Hangar 18 and Tornado of Souls) this makes a sound that is less technical but more melodic. Hooks have found their ways into some of the choruses. So the riffing is slower and more melodic then on previous albums meaning this is a bit of a game changer for Megadeth. I personally enjoyed the change and due to the reception it got I would assume this was a good choice for the band. The solos still tend to have that quick and calculated feel to them but with the advantage of more melody.
The bass follows the lead of the guitars and keeps tempo with them. Not as flashy or fancy as before. He does round out the sound and add support the guitars and has a place in the production where it can fill these roles with ease. The drummer lays off the pounding a lot and carries along with the others pulling out fanciful tricks as he sees fit.
This makes me ask a very important question though, Megadeth's rise to power was dependent on technicality. Its also how they tried so hard to out do Metallica, so why slow down and simplify it? I could only imagine that Dave wants to compete with Metallica in record sales and that is an extremely dangerous game to play. The only way for him to do that is make a more marketable sound, an almost guaranteed ticket to pissing off your fans and becoming a sellout and let's face it, now that Dave has crossed this line every album he makes has more and more potential to blow up in his face and become a disaster. Not one of his brighter ideas.
Standout Tracks: Holy Wars, Hangar 18, Tornado of Souls and Rust in Peace
Few if any albums have left a legacy on the level of Megadeth's Rust in Peace. It is that one popular thrash album you don't have to be ashamed to admit loving in front of your hardcore metal-head friends. It's perfection 100% and I don't know a single metal-head who isn't in love with it. Song after song it shows how great Mustaine and crew really are.
There isn't a single bad track here, not a single song I want to ever skip. All the songs are both catchy, but truly metal. The solos are among the best ever written, especially Tornado of Souls. Plus, it's an album that works as both background noise and aa a deep listen, which makes it "adaptable" to how one wishes to listen on a particular day. It really shows how Megadeth had perfected their craft.
Lets start with the musicianship, and it is abundant here. All the members are great at their instrument of choice, and all their ability is used here. Some tracks like Hangar 18 show this more than others, but they all have a technical edge to them. Nick Menza's drumming is powerful yet complex, like a mix of Dave Grohl and Neil Peart. Mustaine, while not the best, is more than competent at guitar and his vocals are unique, and something I've grown to really love. Dave Ellefson is the least talented member, but he still knows his way around a bass and Megadeth wouldn't be the same without him. Marty Friedman... well Marty is God. No one has his ability to merge soul and technicality in such a perfect way.
The mix here is awesome. It is well balanced and super clean. The instruments are sharp and crisp, just the way Mustaine intended them to be. When Megadeth gets technical, this allows ever little detail to be heard, and its really something to behold. The mix on this album is among the best in metal ever, which this album needs to succeed.
This album is generally seen as a classic of the thrash metal genre, and a pinnacle of Megadeth's career. While there are undoubtedly some serious high points here, this is an extremely inconsistent record.
Half of the album is great thrash/speed metal, with very tight riffage, a good sense of dynamics and huge hooks everywhere you look [the chorus of “Rust In Peace... Polaris” will remain in your head for weeks]. The musicianship and technical ability on offer are of a very high standard – the whole band sounds ferociously tight, disciplined and on top of their game, perhaps best showcased on “Hangar 18” where the second half of the song is given over to Mustaine and Friedman trading guitar solos back and forth. The lyrics are also quite entertaining, even though they just go over some of the standard Mustaine topics of warfare, Armageddon, and conspiracy theories, there are some memorable lines in there [“Military intelligence/Two words combined that don’t make sense”]. Mustaine’s vocals are quite good and more even in quality than on his earlier output, which makes the album sound somewhat slicker than usual for Megadeth.
The strongest bits of the album are at the beginning, especially the opener “Holy Wars... The Punishment Due” which to this day remains Megadeth’s finest composition and is the perfect way to open the album. Given the strength of this song and the one after it, the listener might think that they are in for a treat – but here is where the album falls flat on its face. The middle of the record is dead in the water. Not one of the songs after “Hangar 18” has anything like the huge hooks, the catchy choruses, the sense of melody or the memorable riffs that make the rest of the album so good. The one possible exception is "Five Magics" which has an interesting breakdown halfway through that provides some interest, but the rest of the time these songs just pass by aimlessly. They sound sterile, flat, and very forced. Thrashing away, certainly, but thrashing away just for the sake of it, not to produce an interesting result. The middle section of the album just leaves no impression on the listener. It is, quite frankly, a blessed relief when “Tornado Of Souls” eventually bursts into life – finally, an actual proper chorus! A hook! Interesting riffs! Sadly, it’s too little too late to save the record.
This is a very strange album - one that excites tremendously for the first two songs, and entertains for the closing tracks, but in between completely falls flat and becomes lifeless. It cannot seriously be cited as the high point of Megadeth's career - the inconsistency is too much to tolerate. A possible comparison would be Judas Priest's Point Of Entry album, another record with stupendous highs but also some baffling sections of filler. However the contrast on Rust In Peace, because of the way the highpoints bookend a sea of mediocre songwriting and dull riffage, is even starker. The album doesn't just sag in the middle, it falls away completely. Overall, the first two songs alone validate the price of admission, and the performances throughout are extremely good, but this album is by no means the high water mark it's so often made out to be. Megadeth have produced far more consistent records than this. Worth a purchase, but preferably cheap.
Dave Mustaine and co. may have become a joke, or even worse, as of late. Some may say fans such as myself are living off nostalgia and days gone by more so than a bright, musical future. If you say this, you wouldn't be wrong. Megadeth's best musical days are almost certainly in their rearview mirrror, and the pumped out dross that has become commonplace for them, (Super Collider, Risk, etc), is not surprising for a band 30 years into their career. But for the time, "Rust In Peace" is and will always be an absolute landmark metal album. Countless accolades have accosted this album in the 24 years since it was first released, as have a fair number of dejectors. As a stand alone thrash metal album, it's head and shoulders above most if not all of the thrash released at the turn of the decade. With the addition of virtuouso Marty Friedman, this album is absolutely one you must hear before you die.
The guitar work on this album is among the best in metal history, with so many classic riffs spread across the nine tracks. "Holy Wars", "Tornado of Souls", "Hangar 18", and "Rust In Peace...Polaris", are absolute benchmark thrash metal tracks, with their legacy attesting to that. Marty Friedman was in the band for nearly a decade, yet still, his best work with Megadeth is on this album. Mustaine's rhythm guitar is essential to the driving, searing feeling these riffs give off, as the near constant strike of the riff is unceasing.
The obvious political and social overtones are not lost on the listener, as five world leaders are sat behind some sort of alien testing device. Megadeth is at their best when writing songs that are snarkily denoting higher superiority, be it world leaders or contemporaries. The common theme of "Rust In Peace" is akin to that of "Peace Sells", clearly stating that the world is headed toward a nuclear tumble, and we would all rust in peace if the leaders of this planet didn't stop doing what they were. Dave Mustaine, now much more eccentric and controversial in his beliefs, was always heavily interested in politics and government, and at his prime this worked amazingly well to his advantage. Even as far as "Endgame", which is arguably their best album of the post-1994 era. The songs are catchy, nasty, and have a message. That's what makes a good song.
In summation, "Rust In Peace" is almost always mentioned as an absolute classic, almost ad nauseam. If subjectivity in listening is such a thing, my views on this album may be slightly more biased as it opened the floodgates of heavy metal for me. I remember purchasing the CD as a naive 16 year old, and realizing two tracks in this was by far one of the greatest things I had ever heard. If more people than me can have an experience like that from this very album, than my deduction that it's as classic and timeless as it is certainly stands.
Through the years i have grown very fond of many bands, over many different genres. Especially in the thrash metal genre, and over the years I have heard many amazing albums, but this is easily the greatest. Ive never heard another album as musical and lyrically powerful as this one. It is in every sense of the word, a classic. Perfection from front to back. Essential to every metal lovers collection. There is no low on this album, every song is just as good as the last. Continuously pushing forward to the next amazing riff, the next perfect solo. Rust In Peace can only be described as a masterpiece.
The album kicks off with bang with the Megadeth classic, Holy Wars... The Punishment Due. Lyrically, and musically a perfect piece of art. Vocally, Mustaine has never been perfect. But his vocals fit, and that is what matters. He has one of the more recognizable voices in metal, and that is for sure. The song starts with a blazing fast riff that forces you to start banging your head. The song in a way reminds me of Angel Of Death by Slayer. In the way it has a very distinct beginning, middle, and end, going from fast, to slow, to finishing strong. The next song is another classic, Hanger 18. Who could forget the end where Mustaine and Friedman are trading off solos. Then comes the anti-war classic, Take No Prisoners. The album then takes a somewhat unexpected turn with Five Magics. Being the most progressive track on the album, it does not dissapoint. With its slow climbing build to its strategically fast solo at the end, it is amazing. Poison Was The Cure is another song with a bass intro. Lasting nearly a third of the song, Then moving into one of the fastest, most technical riffs I have ever heard. The main riff makes the solo almost feel lacking. Lucretia is the sixth song on this album and some would think that at this point the album would let up, but Mustaine and his crew of metal giants will not let that happen. It begins with a laugh and has a somewhat strange opening riff. It is definitely a wierd song. But it's wierd in a good way. The solo is one of the best on the album. Once Lucretia is done rocking your brain, Tornado Of Souls kicks in. In my opinion the strongest track on the album. The emotion filled lyrics to the techinal guitars, this song is perfect. It possessess the greatest solo of all time. This song is so beautifully put together. Dave would never again top this song. No one will. After the emotion filled Tornado Of Souls comes Dawn Patrol. A slow creeping intro that leads up to the title track, Rust In Peace. Nick Menza opens this song with a badass drum solo and from then on this song kicks your ass. This being one of Mustaines earliest songs it does not feel out of time at all. It feels more relevant now then it would have earlier in his carreer. This song is the only way this album could have been ended. It has such an intense feeling to it. Every line he spews out fills you with a further sense of dread. A good dose of hopelessness to end it off with. The album starts intense and it ends intense. The thrash cycle is complete.
This album is definitely not a straightforward thrash album. the songs often contain elements of a more melodic or progressive style. Which gives this album a style all its own. The musicianship is tight, the lyrics are personal, and the sense of amazement never ends. This album is at times scary, sad, beautiful, and angry. Every song feels different, but it all belongs. It took me too long to realize the greatness of this album. And i hope this review helps you to realize how awesome it really is. For people who have heard it, it is an almost life changing experience. And for those who have not, it is a classic waiting to be heard.
Rust in Peace by Megadeth is an album that should be known by most fans of the Thrash metal genre even if they haven't personally heard it. Megadeth have never been anywhere near as heavy as the heaviest bands in the thrash metal genre but they simply don't need to be. The music in this album is expressed in a unique way that you will never confuse it with any other thrash metal album. It is an album with incredibly technical playing in all instrumental components and is not only Megadeth's magnum opus but it is one of a few magnum opus's in the speed/thrash metal genre.
If melodic thrash metal was a recognized genre then this would be a clear definition of it as the production values are crystal clear and power metal influences are evident in most of the solos. By the first few seconds of the opening track "Holy Wars... The Punishment Due" which I still can't believe it's a single, it will assault you with an array of speedy riffs that are unrelenting and this sets the standard for a majority of the album. Not everything is the speed metal that you will be quickly conditioned to, the opener drastically changes into a slower, heavier song via an acoustic bridge segment and you should be prepared for this throughout the course of the album as the songs shift from flat out thrash e.g. "Take No Prisoners" to more progressive based structures e.g. "Five Magics"
Dave Mustaine's vocals are adequate considering he also contributes to the guitar playing but they're a fair bit away from the most desirable vocals I have heard. They have a very snarly and gritty feel to them that suit a live situation very well but are a bit off at times and can cause you to misinterpret some of the lyrics if you're not careful. The lyrics are very intelligent and range widely in subject matter, I mean even the singles aren't in the slightest bit slouches, "Hangar 18" covers the topic of ufo conspiracy, something that through all my metal discoveries have never heard any other song do.
The riffs and guitar solos are simply unbelievable at times. Don't be surprised if a solo catches you off guard and lasts several minutes. Marty Friedman is an incredibly talented guitarist, unfortunately this is the only Megadeth album that he has performed on that the true tapped potential of Marty seeps through. Unlike many metal albums the bass guitar playing of David Ellefson is very audible and serves as the perfect supplement to the lead and rhythm guitar parts. Nick Menza's drum parts won't astonish anyone here but there are many competent fills and patterns to be found.
With the only real drawbacks of this album being some vocal parts and the unneeded song "Dawn Patrol" that is quite absurd but luckily it's the second last song and the haste it absorbs is limited. Rust In Peace is in my top 5 thrash metal albums of all time and I am quite sure it will be a worthy asset to any thrash fan that can appreciate the more technical, melodic and progressive side to the thrash metal genre. I count it as Megadeth's most balanced effort, an effort by them that nothing of the same caliber has been done by them before the release of this album. Megadeth's recent efforts have also been quite good to say the least, but I doubt anything they do in the future will match this, I can only hope.
Before I started writing this review I thought it would be wise to listen to Rust In Peace since I hadn’t listened to it for some time. It was a huge mistake! When the CD ended, I needed a few minutes to catch my breath and pull myself together and realize what exactly hit me! Until I finally figured it out. It was the shock waves that came from the nuclear explosion caused by Megadeth! Now that I recovered my senses I feel ready to begin.
In 1990 a new era had risen for the American speed/thrash metallers. This time the light of hope was delivered by the duo Friedman/Menza whose contribution to the creation of Rust In Peace was enormous. Dave Mustaine, almost drug-free, almost sober, almost humane to his partners but mostly to himself, completely unfolds his talent, a talent that we were barely allowed to discover in the past. With the skillful and experienced guitarist Marty Friedman by his side, he feels freer and gets more space since he doesn’t have to compose all the guitar parts by himself or do solos all the time. On the other hand he offers some intensely political lyrics, extremely penetrating and often very personal like in Poison Was the Cure that’s about his drug addiction and whose lyrics are shocking.
In general everything is almost perfect with this album and the only arguable thing is the vocals. Either you will love them or you will hate them. I tend towards the first. Go Dave! The production has been done by Mustaine and Dave Clink and is crystal clear providing the field for the instruments to sound very heavy.
The top moments of the album are… what the hell am I saying? Every song is a diamond and it’s impossible to leave one out. The metal massacre begins from the very first riff of Holy Wars…The Punishment Due. The fantastic intro based on the guitars and pounding drums create a war atmosphere and Megadeth take heads and break necks as you can’t stop headbanging to the thrash rhythms of the song. Nick Menza is tremendously performing behind the drum kit when he lets his galloping horse rhythms but also when he decides to hold the reins. The inspired breaks will not leave you bored not for a second. This one is a blaster!
Take No Prisoners is a war song with all its sense. From the machine-gun guitar playing to the freaking war lyrics of “going to war, give ‘em hell, D-Day, next stop Normandie” the track explodes and obliterates everything. Friedman delivers excellent riffs and solos and is proved to be the best choice for the band.
Hangar 18 is not as speedy as the foretold ones but surely is one of the most interesting as it deals with a subject we all are intrigued; alien existence and the secrets hidden from us by the governments of the world. And if you have seen the video of the song, it becomes more and more exciting.
Poison Was The Cure is a very personal track, self-explanatory of the shit-hole Mustaine had fallen into some time before. The guitars thrash all the way and the three minutes it lasts pass with great delight. It is a typical Megadeth thrash song which leaves you breathless and shattered. Dawn Patrol is a small bass and drums theme that clears the path for the closing track, the masterpiece called Rust In Peace…Polaris. Menza enters with a technical drum intro and the heavy guitars follow to spread their nuclear energy upon us. Megadeth’s nuclear submarine has just surfaced and launches its deadly missiles on the metal world.
The rest of the songs have nothing to envy from the previous killers. All of them are bombastic in their own way filling up the space in the best possible way. Looking for fillers? You won’t find one in here! Nine superb songs, including Dawn Patrol, equally good and inspired leave no doubt that Megadeth are at their best and Rust In Peace is an album essential for every metal fan that respects himself.
The titular phrase has been common in Megadeth fandom since the early days of the band. It was a celebration of the band's leader, but it also had a certain ironic charm. The Dave Mustaine of the 1980s was drug and alcohol-addled, irreverent towards religion and politics, and had a certifiable rebel aura. He was the antithesis of the Reagan era conservative establishment. In the current American political situation, the irony may well be lost. Mustaine is a born again Christian who writes songs protesting the United Nations and the expansion of government power and worrying over conspiracy theories like the so-called New World Order (and given his association with psychopathic radio host and cruel, lying bastard Alex Jones, probably some others). Somehow, this might just make him a feasible candidate for the listless and rebuilding Republican Party. He calls back to the party's recent Evangelical past, fits in with its current pseudo-libertarian and tin foil hat spasms, and reaches out to the key demographic of metal fans who somehow still think this guy is cool.
Now, to return to the “glory days” of Megadeth, there is Rust in Peace. Depending on who you ask, this or Peace Sells... But Who's Buying? is the peak. I'm of the latter persuasion. This album does, however, represent the last gasp of credible Megadeth before Dave followed his former band/white whale's lead into arena metal and the '90s wilderness years of radio rock experimentation and 21st century attempts to make amends with the fanbase via rehashing or roughly approximating an "old sound". At the same time, it does foreshadow the decline in two ways. The first is something that can be witnessed in many thrash metal bands at the end of the '80s and into the '90s, especially the more famous bands in the “Bay Area” scene. With experience came increased technical skill, the flashy display of which became an important component of the bands' sounds. As they gained more attention from fans, they moved to larger record labels with access to expensive studios and more professional producers. The result was slick and accessible music with that was nevertheless fairly complex. It was and is easy to get into, but the skill and underground origin of the performers gave it a certain credibility and sense of depth. The result is what I've come to call arena-prog thrash. (I must pause here to give some credit to MushroomStamp, as a conversation with him a while back [which he may well have forgotten by now] led me to this concept.) Despite its complexity, this is music that inescapably is meant for a mass audience, and I am sure the bands were well aware of this when they went to compose a record to deliver to a major label. Which brings me to the more idiosyncratic and important flaw of Rust in Peace: it's a singles album.
A singles album, as the epithet obviously suggests, is one that is ultimately based on a handful of very strong songs that establish a formula, with the remainder of the record based on those tunes, with a few changes to the equation for variety's sake. Like any good singles album, Rust in Peace front loaded the most important songs, “Holy Wars... The Punishment Due” and “Hangar 18”. One is a multi-faceted mini-epic with contrasting, distinct segments, while the other is centered on high speed and, while also having multiple parts, is more cohesive. Now, every band uses songwriting formulas, so my criticism isn't purely based on the fact that Megadeth employed them here. Hell, a lot of better bands and albums have even more limited songwriting ranges. The problem here is that the best and most interesting ideas are concentrated in these first two songs. These aren't even necessarily great ideas. “The Punishment Due” tanks a bit when it slows down, primarily due to a particularly poor Mustaine vocal and particularly poor and heavy-handed lyrics. “Hangar 18” is the top track of the album, a speed burner with catchy (almost iconic in the case of the opening) riffs and a groovy jamming lead breakdown which gradually builds back to speed for the climax, and a snarling vocal.
“Take No Prisoners” is probably the second best track on the album. In terms of formula, one could say this takes the most visceral elements of “Hangar 18” and focuses them into one stomping cut. Gang vocals and alternating between speed and mid-paced grooves during the verses heighten the sense of aggression. I also must mention the bass drop, which back when some old friends and I were neophyte metalheads at the age of 13 or so, was jaw dropping. We thought it was almost inhumanly fast back then. Anyway, this song succeeds on account of its relative simplicity. “Five Magics” returns to the “Holy Wars...” mold with its long build into a heavy metal gallop and abrupt changes in pace. It has a great chorus, but otherwise plods a little bit between that and the leads. The frequent changes often come at the expense of the best riffing. “Poison Was the Cure” begins with an ominous bass feature before breaking into more of a “Hangar 18” type song with some neat NWOBHM-esque riffs that sound like they could have been Killing Is My Business... rejects.
“Lucretia” and “Tornado of Souls” are the two worthwhile songs with a Dave Ellefson songwriting assist and perhaps for this reason escape the formula of the singles a little bit. “Lucretia”, unfortunately, grooves along rather miserably and is probably the worst of the real songs on the album. It kind of takes the “Hangar 18” approach and makes it slower and boring. I'd like it more if it was a cover of The Sisters of Mercy's excellent “Lucretia, My Reflection”, but every metal band that has tried that has failed to do anything good with it, so it's probably just as well that it's a mediocre original. “Tornado of Souls” is one of the better songs and is sort of a hybrid of the two formulas, marrying distinct passages with a good sense of flow. “Dawn Patrol” is a piece of shit. This is actually Ellefson's last songwriting contribution to the album and I can't believe it took two people to write this waste of space (unless it was improvised while high or something). Mustaine's vocal can only be described as douche-y. No matter how many times I hear his normal speaking voice, this is how I imagine him talking to his family and friends in private. “Rust in Peace... Polaris” closes the album with a more straightforward tune. It grooves along acceptably, but ranks towards the bottom of the pile.
Another point worth addressing briefly is the production. This review has dealt with the original CD version. It's one of those strange major label thrash productions that is slick and professional to match the music, but in some ways might work against the album by sapping some of its potential aggression and heaviness. I can't really call it bad as it presents a pretty clear sonic space with every instrument very audible. Unfortunately, the guitar tone is quite thin and has a strange jangly feel. The bass also has a somewhat weak plunking sound. It certainly is unique sounding for a metal album, but I can't help wondering if many of the songs, and especially “Lucretia”, might have a little more force behind them with a chunkier sound.
Returning to Megadeth's present, it seems to me that whenever Dave and his backing band get ready to drop a new album, the hype involves the question of whether and hope that it will be the true successor to Rust in Peace. Well, guess what? He's already delivered it twice and at the time of this writing is preparing to drop what will likely be the third one! The post-injury albums all have a few strong and interesting songs that define the album, then a bunch of tunes that round things out by reusing or merging their templates, and some songs with a touch of the wilderness years for extra spice. Probably their biggest weakness is that Mustaine hasn't been wise enough to front load. This is why it's unlikely that Megadeth will ever truly reclaim their glory days and deliver a worthy successor to their real masterpiece and only work remotely deserving that status, Peace Sells. That was a set of individual songs that captured different writing styles and moods while flowing together into one coherent piece of music. Rust in Peace has two strong singles, a couple very good b-sides, and rounds out with some derivative material of varying effectiveness. It's good to be sure, but falls well short of greatness.
Megadeth’s best shot at getting on top of the thrash heap was with this album; Metallica and Slayer had peaked four or so years ago (Anthrax never being any competition to these three), thrash was probably at it’s commercial apex- or at least pretty close to it- it was the perfect time to strike. It wasn’t a bad attempt, but various head-scratching ideas in this album stop it from being the definitive statement that Megadeth probably hoped it would be.
Let’s not waste any time and go to the most obvious point here: Megadeth absolutely suck(ed?) at mid paced riffs. It’s no coincidence that the best tracks and moments here are when restraint is abandoned and Mustaine and co. construct strange and beautiful towers of fast paced thrashing ecstasy. Perhaps it’s just because Mustaine’s vocals are more audible (never a good thing) when things get slower and more melodic, maybe it was a poor attempt at copying Metallica’s AJFA when Megadeth were always better at being faster and more violent. Who knows? Regardless, they’re pretty much consistently terrible and there’s a lot of them. Holy Wars is good enough proof; the opening is pretty much the best thing ever, but come the "know it all scholar" bit things start going down hill quickly, and we’re treated to a few awful momentum-sapping minutes of Mustaine doing some truly horrible wailing while a bunch of really meandering riffs crap on your thrash boner. Perhaps it’s because at this point Megadeth still weren’t any good at making hooks, I dunno. Attempts at slower choruses and catchy mid paced riffs just consistently fail; Hangar 18’s vocal lines and riffs aren’t really any good until the solo section comes along, likewise Five Magics is pretty much anti-catchy for a time. Lucretia being the most mid tempo of all of them, and also the most awful; before some redemption is found in the solo the riffs are average and vocals ruthlessly terrible, Mustaine doing his best wailing cat/ozzy tribute. It’s a really terrible song that’s possibly even worse then the horrible interlude that’s Dawn Patrol.
Anyway, a lot of this record is pretty excellent; Take no Prisoners has some fairly awful gang vocals (Urinate them! Masturbate them!) but otherwise is pure thrashing orgasm; fast, super choppy riffs with a rather strange structure to the song that keeps you guessing throughout- not a verse/chorus and more a long build where everything gets increasingly choppy, chaotic and awesome. Continuing this "choppy and fast is where it’s at" theme, Poison was The Cure is quality; slow bass intro (pretty sure DooM ripped this off?) gives way to massive hammer on riff times before Friedman goes crazy. He’s in rare form on this album; shredding up a total storm- consistently fast and pretty technical but always fairly melodic and purposeful. I’d say that based on my "extensive" (haha) knowledge of thrash this has the best lead guitars of any thrash album. People are always pretty keen on the solo in Tornado of Souls- fair enough, it’s pretty cool; but I’d reckon Poison was the Cure is his best moment here, it’s relatively short and not quite as epic as the aforementioned Tornado, but it’s pretty much a totally perfect solo without a note out of place; lead guitar perfection in the 32 or however many bars it goes for. It’s an ideal mix of speed and compositional skillz throughout the album; I wish this dude could’ve played on every single thrash album.
For 80% or however much of the album, the instrumental work is either faultless or pretty damn close to it. Rhythm section’s tight, Mustaine’s guitar contributions (when playing fast stuff) are of a consistently high quality, honestly when everything comes together it’s a real sight to behold; a glorious, super intricate sort of noise, like a truck carrying fifty guitars and three drum kits rolling off a cliff. The title track’s probably where everything works the best, huge guitar riffs and a catchy chorus (!!!!) holding sway before all hell breaks loose in the last half. The last half’s a bit overlong and repetitive, but having said that I’m a big fan of overlong and repetitive stuff, especially when the riffs are of as good a quality as they are here. Fantastic stuff. If the vocals were as good as the instruments, you’d have an amazing album.
Not to be, though. Those familiar with metal will know that throughout it’s history there’s been a rather perplexing tendency to willingly overlook, or even praise terrible vocalists; Ozzy, that dude in Diamond Head (Sean Harris?), Varg, Akerfeldt, the dude in Agalloch. There’s millions of ‘em (literally) and I’d say the figurehead of the bad-vocalist apologetics movement would be our man Mustaine. I can appreciate that he was too busy writing awesome thrash riffage here to bother about good vocal lines, and perhaps Megadeth couldn’t afford enough studio time so Mustaine had to record the vocals when he had a cold; alternatively they hired a 13 year old to do the vocals, as a joke. Regardless: they are awe-inspiring in their shittiness. Upon hearing Mustaine’s first vocal line a bunch of questions will undoubtedly enter your mind: Did I accidentally buy/download the Anal Cunt parody of the real thing? Perhaps these are the backing vocals? Will he start singing properly in the chorus? Why did they hire a 13 year old? How is it possible to write such bad vocal melodies? Why didn’t Mustaine bring another vocalist in? And so on and so forth. The vocals are horrible; whiny, nasal tones that struggle to get anywhere near the required pitch, devoid of any power (Dawn Patrol being an amusing example of this; hear Mustaine painfully struggle to get as deep as possible) and just overall terrible on a level you’ve never heard before. Mustaine: he’s an objectively horrible vocalist, no two ways about it.
It’s a real shame that the vocals blow as hard as they do. It’s a real shame that these guys developed a boner for mid paced riffs. There’s a lot to love about this album- a few songs and plenty of moments of near-perfection- but likewise there’s a lot about this that’s just straight out annoying, and while that accentuates the good parts it also makes them more frustrating. Mustaine is clearly a really gifted songwriter and guitarist, and the rest of Megadeth had a level of mastery on their instruments that’s rarely seen. As it stands though this is good, maybe even great, but not the "holy crap guys best thing ever" that they had intended it to be. I’d still recommend you buy it post haste, though.
This album is completely disappointing. The amount of praise it receives is largely undeserved and the hype surrounding it leads to high expectations, followed by reactions of “That’s it?! That’s what all the big fuss is about?!” The only comprehensible reason why this receives so much adulation may be due to the virtuosic musicianship and the frequent catchy moments. Beyond that however, it’s a crapshoot whether one will find anything else of redeemable quality. There is just too much of a certain attitude about this that inhibits Rust in Peace (RIP) from what otherwise would have been a brilliant masterpiece. As a result of this attitude (which will be addressed later), certain songs seem forced, and the album just fails to unify into a cohesive whole.
The most immediate characteristic that will instantly grab anyone’s attention is the very proficient musicianship. Every Megadeth member of this era displays an incredible ability to perform whatever riffs and rhythms the moment may call for. From catchy mid-tempo riffs, to lightning-fast thrash numbers. Every instrument is played with a keen sense of harmony among them; never overly complicated and always with a fine instinct for melody. RIP is probably the most technically adept Megadeth album. Unfortunately, it sure isn’t their best.
Despite the overall catchiness and practiced technical restraint, there is a substantial amount of quality left to be desired. Dave and crew simply tried too hard at striking a balance between the technical and the memorable, as opposed to letting it occur naturally. As a result of this, certain songs come across as forced. At times, they even become painfully sterile, and truly test the listener’s patience. Holy Wars is particularly bad at this. So is Lecretia, Five Magics, Tornado of Souls and the over-praised Hangar 18, whose solo-after-solo towards the end becomes nerve grating. In these particular songs, the ‘Deth crew abuses the power metal-style of melody, and creates riffs that come across as overly consonant. There is just no real distinguishable contrast between each riff to make them truly interesting beyond the initial impression of “that’s catchy”.
The rest of the songs on this album will range from average, to borderline greatness. Take No Prisoners manages to live up to its name. Of equal quality is Poison was the Cure and the reasonable title track. These songs actually fair quite well as thrash laced with power metal melodies.
The reason RIP falls a long distance from greatness is because Dave ‘n crew placed too much emphasis on writing good, catchy, talent-oriented metal, but not enough on wholly unified compositions. The songs seem to be missing climaxes, build-ups, and interplay between varying levels of tension. Despite the average length of these songs and their complex nature, they feel incomplete. It is as if though the simply did not realize their full potential. The fact that these are professional musicians we’re dealing with here makes RIP even more frustrating. All in all, the songwriting here, while complex and varied, manages to be unfulfilling. Climax build-up and release should have played a much more prominent role than simply writing catchy, technical stuff. As a result, RIP sounds bloated and over-ambitious.
The main reason why RIP feels forced may have something to do with the audience they geared their music towards. This is the attitude that led to over ambition and subsequent disappointment. They tried to hard to impress any normal bloke that may come across this. Every riff of every song clearly exhibits an attempt to impress even the most casual listener. This attitude is really what restrains this album down; preventing it from becoming a masterpiece. It’s a result of wanting to make a batch of songs for metal heads of all tastes. With an attitude like that, it makes a bit difficult to take this thing seriously.
There is not much else that can be said about RIP. What made previous efforts such as Peace Sells…. But Who’s Buying? a triumph was it’s relentless pursuit of high quality music worth listening to; regardless of what some fan base might say. It didn’t try to appease to anyone’s taste. It simply surged from beneath the ground and laid waste to unsuspecting ears. RIP finds Megadeth hopelessly pursuing the praise of an audience; as a result, the music suffers greatly.
Yes, I am not the slightest bit exaggerating with the title of this review. I seriously believe Rust in Peace is probably the best album ever. I have lots of albums I really love. I know albums that I listen to a lot that are heavier. I know albums I listen to that are faster. I know albums I listen to a lot that are more technical. Not that all three of these musical traits aren't present on Rust In Peace of course, but never in my life have I heard an album with more focus, better composition, and more memorable songwriting than Rust In Peace by the great Megadeth. And while Megadeth did some excellent stuff both before and after this, they have yet to scale these heights again...this is just absolutely phenomenal...
So enough flash...why exactly is Rust In Peace so amazing? To sum it up...it is basically everything that is great about metal in a nutshell and more. For one thing, this album is EXTREEMLY heavy. The guitar tone (not to mention the production) is fantastic. Crushing and distorted but never "too heavy", creating the effect of a "blur" sound *cough*Kreator*cough*. The entire album has a very” spacious”, big sound that is perfect for the sonic atmosphere of thrash (all of you “tr00” thrashers who say thrash has to have absolute crap production to be thrash are totally wrong). The album can be extremely fast and punishing at times but has an equal amount of that as slow, more crushing riffs, some more high register technical riffs, even some clean passages to break up the whole "distortion" blur. As a result, you get a very multi-dimensional album, one that never sounds repetitive or boring, and makes it accessible to a wide audience. A thrash metal fan would love it just as much as a prog metal fan...but it's the melodicism and memorability of the songwriting that would make even your run of the mill FM Rock Station listener love it.
The songwriting achieves the "perfect balance" factor as well. This album, as mentioned earlier, has all your typical thrash riffs, but also some more progressive-metal ish passages, and even some melodic harmonies that add even more life to the songs. The songs are all extremely intricate and the riffs weave right into each other...yet the band never looses sight of melody, and all of the songs on here can be described as catchy despite the fact they are quite musically complex. Even songs like "Holy Wars...The Punishment Due", "Five Magics" and "Rust In Peace...Polaris" which follow pretty non-traditional structures do not stray too far away from the original song. Basically this album achieves the perfect balance between melodicism and a progressive influence.
The lyrics, like the music, is very varied. You have your typical thrash songs about war and politics (i.e. "Holy Wars", "Take No Prisoners", "Dawn Patrol", "Rust In Peace") done in typical Mustaine fashion (that sort of biting, sardonic satirical thing, usually from the antagonistic POV) and great as usual, but then there’s also songs that show complete different sides of Mustaine’s lyrical abilities. In this album you will also find songs about the occult, aliens, drugs, ghosts, and, most surprisingly for a thrash album, relationships. All of the lyrics sound absolutely perfect for the songs, and this is coming out of a guy who almost never even notices lyrics in music. That’s how good they are.
The fact that Mustaine had an absolutely outstanding set of musicians at his disposal didn't hurt the album one bit. Mustaine himself is a very accomplished rhythm guitarist, as evidenced by tons of very technical riffs on this album, the fact that he wrote them all and put them all together is even more impressive, as he did a marvelous job with this. His lead playing is a bit on the sloppier side, but they aren't that bad and are very memorable and serve the songs well. They sound kind of like “biker” type solos really, somewhat trashy but catchy and well executed shred. Dave's best lead on this album is either the last solo on "Holy Wars" or the last solo on "Lucretia" IMO. His vocals, many other people have complained about, but I find them to be sort of interesting and characteristic; they perfectly fit the words he is singing (he is much better than some utterly horrid thrash vocalists like Tom Araya and Tom Angelripper).
Probably the most impressive member of the band though is new guitarist Marty Friedman. A veteran of the excellent shred-metal ensemble Cacophony, Friedman's leads are simply masterful. Are they fast? Hell yeah. But they are also VERY melodic and serve the songs perfectly. Not to mention Friedman's technique is simply incredible, one of the most fluid, beautiful players ever, and all this while shredding really damn fast. His legato runs and sweep licks on here really display his trademark techniques at their best. He even displays versatility in his playing during the acoustic classical solo in "Holy Wars". He is also, without saying really, an accomplished rhythm guitarist, obviously having to double up all of Mustaines technical riffs. Also on the many guitar harmonies on the album Friedman plays the upper register and keeps in perfect time with Mustaine. A great player is an understatement. Simply a master. It’s hard to pick a stand out solo, their all fantastic in their own way.
Though many may disagree with me on this, the weakest link of Megadeth is definitely bassist David Ellefson. First of all, the bass line on “Dawn Patrol” is not hard AT ALL, I am a guitar player and I can play it perfectly. However that he is the weakest link is saying a lot. Ellefson is still a fine musician. His bass lines on here are pretty intricate and don’t just follow the guitars all the time, they are actually audible too. His off the wall bass lines in songs like “Hangar 18” and “Five Magics” are excellent, I honestly don’t understand why he downplayed himself so much on Dawn Patrol.
Finally we have drummer Nick Menza, another new addition to Megadeth, and certainly a welcome one. Menza is a masterful drummer, probably the best they have ever had (sorry Gar [RIP]). His has very impressive foot speed, yet his drumming is not all about double bass. All his beats fit the music perfectly and he throws in some truly incredible fills throughout every song. Definitely a very underrated drummer right here. I’d like to see Dave Lombardo tackle all those weird meters in “Five Magics”, or even just play the drum beat for the title song (one of the craziest beats I have ever heard in my life and certainly one of the best). His drums sort of have a “mechanical” feel to them which I like for drums especially in metal, but there is reverb going on which fits this albums very “spacious” production value. Another excellent musician.
The album kicks off with “Holy Wars…The Punishment Due” and right from that frantic, technical opening riff you know this album is going to be a winner. It continues with this riff for a while and then Mustaine plays a melodic line over it, making the song even more memorable. The lyrics come in with Mustaine singing about what can be assumed is the Persian Gulf war, a religious war going on at the time of this albums release. It continues in this vein for a while but then all the sudden the song comes to a halt, and Marty Friedman throws in this beautiful Arabic sounding guitar solo, and all the sudden the song changes into this absolutely crushing weird timed riff comes in with Mustaine singing in the weirdest way over it, as odd as it is, it totally makes sense for whatever reason. Then the song goes into a slower riff and Mustaine wails over it, with Friedman taking some excellent, exotic solos between verses, at that point you think, “can this get any better!”, and then it does…after Friedman’s second solo the riff suddenly turns heavy and fast like the first part of the song again, Mustaine takes probably his best solo on the album and then the final verse begins. The melodic guitar line from the intro comes in again and the song ends with Mustaine shouting “next thing you know they’ll take my thoughts away!”…and you are just left at loss for words. An incredible, incredible track.
The next song is the ultimate guitar song, “Hangar 18”. This song is probably closer to progressive metal than thrash metal, with a strong neo-classical influence even in the riffing, based heavily on diminished and 7th chord patterns. The riffs all simply weave right into each other in the intro and it sounds incredible. The lyrics come in, about the infamous Roswell incident. Then the first solo, by Friedman comes in, which is excellent. This pattern continues for a verse, and then all the sudden, the entire key of the song changes and Friedman and Mustaine get into the ultimate guitar battle. The song has a grand total of I believe 11 solos and they are all totally sick, yet the catchy riffs of the album come in between lead breaks to break up to potential monotony of a solo filled song. After Mustaines epic final solo, the song ends. Talk about head spinning. At this point, after only two songs, you know this album is just incredible.
After two ultra-complex progressive songs, the much more straight up thrasher “Take No Prisoners” comes in. This is relatively straight forward compared to the rest of the album, but the riffs are still pretty damn fast and hard to play, after the absolutely metronomic opening riff the lyrics come in, about prisoners of war. The vocals at first are sort of a call-and-response thing between Mustaine and the rest of the band (“got one chance-INFILTRATE THEM”/”get it right-TERMINATE THEM”, etc.) There is a pretty decent, really fast bass solo, and then the song proceeds into a really crazy riff with Mustaine frantically signing over. There are little guitar fills between vocal phrases. Finally the song calms down a little, playing a simpler open chord riff. Friedman goes into one of his trademark harmonic minor solos, and as this is going on the call and response thing comes back with the songs classic line (“take no prisoners-TAKE NO SHIT!”). This continues until the songs humorous ending (the entire band crying “SHIT!”). Talk about a face melter.
If you thought the first 3 songs were technical, then you will be totally unprepared for “Five Magics”. The song starts out with a frantic riff, then goes into a very off the wall but cool sounding bass line, with Menza playing an almost jazz sounding little beat under it. Friedman and Mustaine play a haunting harmony over it twice…before the song goes into it’s “thrash section”. The lyrics seem to deal with the occult, Mustaine speaks of being the “master of five magics”. The riff sounds very oddly timed and put together, but it works really well, with Friedman throwing in his excellent leads between verses as usual. Then all the sudden after 4 verses, a very weird metered riff comes in, with Friedman coming in for another excellent neoclassical solo. Mustaine even sings over it, which is even more impressive, as weird meter riffs like this are hard to coordinate instrumentally even, especially with vocals. Then the song brakes down into a simpler riff, with the whole call and response vocal thing going on again (“give me-ALCHEMY”/give me-SORCERY”, etc.). Then during the “chorus line” comes in another weird time riff, and you have to think “how did they get it this tight”, it is no wonder the band rarely plays this song live, God…then there is a really word call and response thing going on between Mustaine and I believe Ellefson over the songs first thrash riff. Then it goes into a Mustaine solo and ends. This song is just indescribable, all that technicality and rhythmic complexity, yet the song is also CATCHY…this is a the ultimate testament to Mustaine’s songwriting skills.
Following the absolute technical workout of Five Magics is the decidedly shorter, more straightforward track “Poison Was The Cure”, under 3 minutes long, not just a rarity for Megadeth but in thrash in general (at this point in time the average thrash song was between 5 and 7 minutes). It begins with a chord bass line. Then the guitar comes in, and an extremely fast riff comes in. This riff almost sounds more “hard rock” than metal tonally, sort of like Led Zeppelin gone thrash. Mustaines voice comes in for some ultra-fast singing. The song basically follows this format for most of the song and only changes really during the “chorus” breakdowns. The song ends with a solo trade of, both of which are quite good. Though not by any means the albums best song, it is a good, catchy thrasher that is a nice change from the more complex, long songs that preceded it.
The next song up is “Lucretia”. Like “Hangar 18”, Lucretia gives off a more prog/power metal feel due to being played in the higher register. The high register opening riff (which I believe is made up at least partially of harmonics) starts up, then it is sort of expanded on in a weird timed second riff, which is sort of the hook of the song, which is also played in the higher register. Then the vocals come in, and the vocal approach also sounds a little off-kilter, as are the lyrics. The song is about Mustaine finding a ghost in his house and talking to it (apparently his grandmother). After the verse ends there is a bouncy little riff, and then the intro riff repeats itself and goes into the second verse. This same pattern continues into the next post-verse riff, and then goes into another somewhat bouncy sounding riff, and the solo section begins. Friedman’s solo here is decidedly more laid-back than some of his other solos on the album and sounds off-kilter, but fits the song well. Mustaine comes in with an excellent, more shred-oriented solo and then, after the post-verse riff is repeated (and harmonized over) the song ends. A slightly off-kilter but well done and excellent song.
Up next is “Tornado of Souls”. Starting with an immediate hooky palm-mute and harmonics intro, and then going into a hyperactive but melodic riff, this is the most catchy song on the album. After the verse riff plays a few times, Mustaine begins singing. Now something particularly interesting about this song is the lyrics. The lyrics tackle a subject almost completely taboo to thrash metal…relationships. The lyrics seem to revolve around Mustaine just dumping his girlfriend and anticipating hard times ahead. As much as a song like this could fail in music like this, it is executed so well you don’t even know; as it is angry instead of whiny (mall metal bands pay attention to this). The rest of the song is relatively simpler and driving, focusing on that one hyperactive but melodic and almost bluesy riff from the intro. There is an excellent drum fill from Nick Menza in here, and then Marty Friedman’s solo. Unlike the neoclassical, exotic style of most of his solos on here, Friedman’s Tornado of Souls solo is decidedly more melodic and simpler, using basic major scale modes instead of say, a harmonic minor or diminished or Arabic scale that makes up the majority of the solos on this album. It is for the most part melodic, though goes into some excellent sweep sections. It immediately sticks in your mind and is just perfectly executed. The song ends similar to the way it begins. The most hooky and catchy song on the entire album, defying every “rule” of metal…but still excellent.
“Dawn Patrol”, the albums infamous fill track, follows next. It’s not much really musically. Just a pretty simple bass line over a pretty simple drum beat, with guitars appearing periodically, and Mustaine singing in a hilarious deep British accent. Some of the lyrics in here are very darkly humorous and unfortunately accurate (“with the greenhouse in effect, our environment was wrecked”), but it is otherwise skip-able. Still, they could have done much worse with a song like this.
Finally we come to the album’s title track, the lost song on the official album, “Rust In Peace…Polaris”. The song begins with an insane off the wall drum beat but Nick Menza (I can only imagine how long it took him to get it down). The first riff is also a bit unorthodox sounding. Friedman comes in and plays a brief, bluesy fill, and then Mustaine’s vocals, even odder sounding than usual, come in. The song is about nuclear war (the “Polaris” connection is still a mystery to me) and was directly inspired by that infamous bumper sticker that inspired this albums title (“warheads shall all rust in peace!”). After a few verses…the song suddenly comes to halt, another riff comes in. The only lyric from this point on is “eradication of earths population loves-Polaris”, with Friedman throwing an excellent solo after the first round of this, and metronomic riffs fill in the blanks between. Then with a final set of lyrics, and Mustaine doing a sort of death metal scream under it, the song ends with a sustained cymbal hit. Another masterful song and a great end to a completely marvelous album.
The Remastered version also contains a song “My Creation”, which is a decent but relatively uninteresting song, and demo versions of “Holy Wars”, “Take No Prisoners”, and “Rust In Peace”, which are interesting to hear, though none of them are superior to the final recordings. Still, in the end, Rust In Peace is an absolutely incredible album with amazing songs, incredible composition, technical, progressive moments, masterful musicianship, and marvelous focus. I can’t say anything at this point I haven’t said about it. It is a must have for EVERYONE. All metalheads of all subgenres, and non metalheads who just want to hear great rock music, this album is a must have. That’s my final verdict.
Final Rating: 100% (okay nothing is perfect, but this is the closest there is to it)
The phenomenon of MegaDeth’s “Rust in Peace” is quite a unique one, owing to a long history of tumult following the life of its founder Dave Mustaine and the subsequent line-ups changes that had coincided with it. With perhaps the exception of “Peace Sells” Mustaine’s approach to album creation has been an exercise in pure intuition that seemed to magically align a set of varied influences into a cohesive whole. This can be readily observed in the seemingly out-of-place yet fitting classical piano intro to the debut album, and the host of seemingly unrelated lyrical topics and musical section changes in “So far, so good, so what?” Where this album differs is that it takes the opposite approach and instead creates something that is purposefully structured and more symmetrical.
Although I am personally a bigger fan of Chris Poland’s mellow yet fast approach to soloing, it is clear that Marty Friedman has the edge on chops as well as instrumental storytelling. He acts as a slightly more technical foil to Mustaine’s leads, resulting in a dueling soloist approach that gives a sense of unity between the two, rather than the sense of conflict that manifested itself on the solo sections of “Peace Sells”. Nowhere is this more present than in the cases of the first 2 epic thrashers on the track list, which showcase a variety of stylistic influences from Iron Maiden to classical guitarist Carlo Domeniconi.
Indeed, the entire tone of this album screams epic, not only in the proportion of music found on here but also in the approach to the subject matter covered. Although Mustaine mostly delves into themes of government conspiracy and social awareness in the cases of “Holy Wars”, “Hanger 18”, “Dawn Patrol” and the title track, he makes room for such wildly different subjects such as fantasy in the case of “Five Magics” and what appears to be an analogy to Dante’s 2nd plane of hell and a song of lust and self-destruction in "Tornado of Souls".
The songs do exhibit the same sense of creative freedom and intuitiveness that Dave has always possessed, but the focus has become clearer. “Holy Wars” has an intro riff that immediately grabs the ear, while the vocal delivery that follows over a series of well placed riffs is almost clean in its precision, though raunchy in timbre. The mystical sounding classical guitar interlude provided by Friedman throws the listener for a loop, yet takes nothing from the unity of the song. “Take no prisoners”, “Poison was the cure”, and “Lucretia” are all full speed ahead, uncompromising riff thrashers, the first of which containing a brief bass solo that challenges Joey Demaio’s status as the most out of control soloist on the instrument.
“Five Magics” continues to buck expectations and leads off with an evil sounding intro that reminds a bit of Slayer, followed by an extravaganza of lead lines and some off-the-cuff vocal interchanges. “Tornado of Souls” is the only song that could potentially be described as mid-tempo and comes off as the most memorable and catchy of the bunch. The title track is a thrash epic that sounds longer than the sub-6 minute time length, lyrically depicting the decay of ballistic missiles and attributing the name Polaris (also the name of the trinary star system that is referred to as the North Star) to a weapons system that is given the characteristics of a human tyrant. The only weak link in the bunch is “Dawn Patrol”, which does contain some fancy bass work, but doesn’t work well and contains a rather goofy vocal performance that doesn’t succeed as being humorous or scary.
Although from start to finish this album screams musical brilliance, the greatest song on here is “Hanger 18”. It’s principle chord progression is taken from Mustaine’s compositional contribution to Metallica in “Call of Ktulu”, which has been further elaborated and reclaimed by its rightful owner. The number of varying ideas drawn from this singular progression is quite large, presenting an exciting thrash epic with catchy vocals rather than the repetitive and somewhat overlong instrumental of its predecessor which was mostly a song displaying Cliff Burton’s technical prowess. The solo section and riff interchange at the end bears much resemblance to the classic Maiden epic title track off “Seventh Son of a Seventh Son”, although a bit faster and lacking any keyboard tracks.
So the question is simply, is this album worthy of all the praise? Absolutely, but I must differ with the majority of the MegaDeth faithful whom say this is their best. When I listen to “Peace Sells” I hear absolute perfection by way of chance, when I listen to this I hear near perfection through intentional effort. It is a great album, one of the best in its genre, and if you get the re-mastered CD you’ll be treated to hearing a fine bonus song in “My Creation” and 3 songs off this album with Chris Poland doing leads. Mustaine has succeeded not once, but twice now in surpassing his former band mates in Metallica, and to this day continues to outshine them, regardless to what album sales and conventional wisdom say to the contrary.
If I were to give percentages to albums based on how I rank them, 100% being the absolute best and 0% being the worst, I wouldn’t regret giving this 100%. I don’t hand out percentages that way though; I prefer to score albums on their worth. I don’t think this will be the only album I review and give a perfect score to, but this is my favourite, bar none.
Rust in Peace is the supreme example of how to create an album using a slew of styles from the decade that preceded it, and how to master each style. This is why there could not have possibly been an album this good in 1986, or anytime in the 1980s for that matter; metal had just about reached its peak in creativity in the late ‘80s and it wasn’t until this album came along that anyone had looked back, evaluated the landscape, advantageously implemented styles into their work, find a way to expand upon ideas even further and go the next step further by making the most of the entire band’s talent. That’s one hell of an accomplishment, and there isn’t any album from 1990 that has the same replay value; Slayer’s ‘Seasons…’ wasn’t even an improvement from past releases, Pantera’s ‘Cowboys…’ seldom deviates from the same idea carried throughout and Priest’s ‘Painkiller’ doesn’t quite match the energy that this has. And they’re all excellent efforts.
(Ironically enough, many of these songs had been written years prior to the LP’s release, with some even dating back to 1982 according to Dave. Imagine if the title track had been unveiled 1983 or so! Brutality!)
As expected, thrash is a key element yet still manages to compliment everything else. Take No Prisoners exemplifies the over-the-top attitude and musical execution of bands like Overkill and Anthrax; there are some complex rhythm and lead stops throughout, catchy lyrics and a great chant-along at the end. It may be the simplest track (except for Dawn Patrol) but it’s still very detailed in execution. But we’re not even into the rest yet! Polaris is more mid-paced than speedy, but the riffs are monstrous and thrashy without being pretentiously heavy. And then, near the end, it does get fast. Very riff oriented. After its calm, concentrated opening, Poison Was the Cure is just straight-forward, mind-numbing thrash bordering on speed metal, and ends with solo (and there are A LOT of those throughout the album). And when Five Magics gets going, damn. This one’s an often overlooked classic; there are so many catchy lyrics, wild, blistering solos (yet despite their aggressiveness are technically proficient), an intense little break towards the end of the song and beneath it all a crazy time signature. Words cannot do this song justice.
And the forerunner to all of this? Holy Wars.
Fucking Holy Wars.
If this isn’t my favourite thrash song ever... no, it is. How the fuck is Dave playing this while singing? The riffs may not be the fastest out there, but they may very well be most memorable out of every thrash song I’ve heard. The riffs go on for a minute and a half before even getting to the vocals and still and it keeps on going without becoming boring at all. This completely changes after “Holy Waaaarssss” when the riffs change to a slow, deliberate pace. This section totally commands your attention. And of course, when it all keys back up again it’s back to the riffs with an awesome Friedman solo. Game over. Along with Tornado of Souls, this is the highlight of the album.
On the flipside of the coin is the catchier stuff which is all a mix of power, speed and straight-up heavy metal. Lucretia has a heavy emphasis on the lead work and features YET ANOTHER awesome solo. These just keep on coming! And of course, the song’s about the ghost that lives in Dave’s attic.
Amazingly, Friedman manages to top that solo in Tornado of Souls, and it’s arguably Megadeth’s greatest. Tornado contrasts from Holy Wars’ execution not only in the style of music, but the flow; Holy Wars plunges forward, slows down and starts up again whereas Tornado doesn’t let up. It isn’t the fastest track on the album, but the guitar work is almost too cacophonous to describe (and Friedman’s from Cacophony, how about that).
And of course… Hangar 18. This is very reminiscent of Iron Maiden in the verses and such, but then the time signature changes, and then changes some more. Can you say “Dueling solos”? Solo after solo after solo after solo after solo after solo. After solo after solo after solo.
This is perfection, right here. Everything good about the ‘80s was duplicated and then enhanced and expanded. Here, thrash becomes calculated, technical and catchy; technicality becomes aggressive and riotous; intelligent, provocative lyrics become memorable tunes that you’ll never forget. I give it my highest recommendation.
Megadeth is a band every metalhead knows. Whether you're a fan of thrash or not, chances are you've at least heard of Dave Mustaine's infamous feud with colossal metal band, Metallica. The feud, in a way, helped create the band that Dave Mustaine has toiled in for over twenty years. Dave started Megadeth to get back at his former band mates (and because he was no longer in a band, but most people tend to ignore this). Dave wanted to be faster, heavier, and more successful than Metallica. Save for mainstream success, he pretty much succeeded with the band's 1990 release, Rust in Peace. Heavy, fast, technical, Rust in Peace has it all, and is widely considered to be one of thrash metal's finest albums.
Songwriting is top notch on Rust in Peace, and is anyone really surprised? Back in the day Dave Mustaine wrote some of the thrashiest riffs on albums such as Kill 'Em All, Killing is my Business, and Peace Sells…But Who's Buying. But he steps up is performance on Rust in Peace. Each song on the album, save Dawn Patrol (a song with just drums, bass, and vocals), contains the best riffs Dave has ever written. Just check out the album's third song, Take No Prisoners. The song is very fast, and contains violent riffs, perfect for headbanging. Another excellent example of Rust in Peace's riffs is the fourth song, Five Magics. The song has a blistering two minute instrumental before Dave Mustaine's vocals kick in, leaving the band an excellent opportunity to show their stuff. If you're a fan of thrashy riffs than look no further than Rust in Peace.
Another big reason why Rust in Peace is such a good album is guitarist Marty Friedman. Marty's skill on the guitar is by far the highest of any member of Megadeth; past, present, and most likely future. By pairing Marty Friedman with Dave Mustaine, Megadeth suddenly had one of the most potent duos in the scene. Need proof? Just check out the last two to three minutes of the second song on the album, Hangar 18. The guitar-off between Marty and Dave is one of the album's best moments. Another impressive solo from Friedman comes up during Tornado of Souls. Quite possibly my favourite solo of them all, it is one of Marty's more melodic solos. The actual solo is slower than a lot of the other solos you'll find on Rust in Peace for the most part, but just as enjoyable, proving that Marty doesn't have to shred to impress.
Many people who listen to Megadeth are not fans of Dave's vocals. It's not too hard to see why, especially on songs such as Take No Prisoners and Poison Was the Cure. While they aren't bad outings, Dave's snarling vocal technique at times feels incoherent (as in Poison Was the Cure) or just plain bad. However he shines during at certain moments too. Dave has some of his best vocal outings in the opening track, Holy Wars…The Punishment Due, particularly during the latter, as well as Tornado of Souls, which is perhaps the most emotional song on the album. That sad, I only have the remaster version of the album, which features different vocal tracks on some of the songs, so I'm not sure how good or bad his vocals are in the original.
If I had any complaints about Rust in Peace, it would be the song lengths. Some of the songs are too damn short. Poison Was the Cure is an excellent song and builds up great momentum, yet is only 2:56 long. Lucretia, another superb effort from the band just misses the four minute mark, which is disappointing, as it is one of the album's most enjoyable tracks to listen to. The only track I can safely say that I'm glad is short is Dawn Patrol, which seems more like a filler than anything else. As mentioned before, the song consists only of drums, a bass line, and some of Mustaine's worst vocals. Ever. The song clocks in at 1:51, which is more than enough time.
Overall, Rust in Peace is a thrash classic, and easily Megadeth's best album. It features Megadeth at their best, with technical riffing, very impressive shredding and soloing, and some nice bass work. Though Megadeth doesn’t fall completely off the face of the planet with their next album, as hard as they try the band will not match their maximum opus, Rust in Peace, nor do they even record an album that sounding similar. The band claims that the next Megadeth album could fit into the band's RiP - CtE era (as well as some more commercial elements), but can it top Rust in Peace? Unlikely, but we'll just have to wait and see.
(Originally written for Sputnikmusic)
Megadeth’s best? Perhaps. Either way, it’s tied for first place with ‘Peace Sells.’ In my book, these guys are (were?) the masters of thrash. Metallica can’t even compare to them. Metal Church comes close, but no. Dave Mustaine is a genius at songwriting, and this album proves it.
There is usually only one album of each genre that deserves a score of a perfect 100. For example, in the power metal genre, that honor belongs to Helloween’s Second Keeper. In traditional metal, that’s Dio’s ‘Holy Diver.’ In thrash… we have Rust In Peace. This album is thrash perfection, and let me start of by complimenting the songwriting.
Songwriting is definitely something that deserves compliments, and PLENTY of them. Mustaine is… just… amazing. No other way to describe it. The solos are flawless. The choruses are flawless. Everything here is just as it needs to be. All the songs open up great. Let’s take Megadeth’s hit ‘Hangar 18,’ for example. It opens up in a fairly simple series of power chords; easy riffs, yet highly memorable. The percussion in the background is perfect, slowly building up the necessary atmosphere, and then the song erupts into a solo. Then another. Then another. At a minute into the song, Dave Mustaine starts to sing, “Welcome to our fortress tall!!!” At a minute and twenty seconds the chorus starts, and soon after more solos. The transitions between the openings, solos, choruses, and closings of each song is so smooth and flawless. There is no sudden halt, a split second pause, and then a jump to a chorus, as I see happening very often on trash records. Nothing of that sort here. Mustaine wrote is all perfectly.
Of course, there’s the production that needs some compliments too. As always should be expected from Megadeth, the production is crystal-clear. The mixing, especially that of the guitars, is also worthy of praise. The drums mixed in the background are nice and crunchy, without drowning out either the guitars or Mustaine’s vocals, so this is definitely a great success.
Another great plus of this CD is the overall quality of each song. As you might probably guess from the perfect 100 score, there are no fillers on this album. Each song is a success, and that’s a rare thing indeed. All the way from the legendary ‘Holy Wars… The Punishment Due’ to ‘Rust In Peace… Polaris,’ each song is a trash masterpiece, and I never find myself wanting to press the skip button. Listening to this whole album, beginning to end, is definitely not a problem.
Ahh, that is one point I cannot stress enough. This whole album is filled with classics BEGINNING TO END. As I mentioned, it starts with ‘Holy Wars,’ an unforgettable Megadeth classic. Then it goes to ‘Hangar 18,’ perhaps Megadeth’s most known song off of this album. Next we get ‘Take No Prisoners…’ Another classic. More great songs, more greats songs, until we get to the killer off the album, ‘Rust In Peace… Polaris.’ (Have you ever wondered how come Megadeth uses so many periods in so many track titles? This always baffled me…)
Obviously, guitarplaying on this album is godly. I shouldn’t even need to go over this, but I have to make clear. NO ONE SHREDS LIKE MEGADETH. Both Dave Mustaine and Marty Friedman are two incomparable guitarists, and the chances of both such legends being in the same band is nothing short of amazing. Each riff is new and fresh. Each solo better than the last; original, fast, and memorable.
Yes, Megadeth’s ‘Rust In Peace’ has it all. This is the album that first got me into thrash, and forever will remain amongst not only my favorite thrash albums, but my favorite albums of all time. It’s a shame no one writes stuff like this anymore, and it’s another shame Megadeth never again came close to writing such a work of art.
Megadeth followed up their mildly disappointing 1988 album “So Far, So Good…So What?” with the masterful 1990 album “Rust in Peace”. But once again between albums the guitarist, this time Jeff Young, and drummer, this time Chuck Behler, where fired and replaced, just as the same happened after “Peace Sells…But Who’s Buying?”. Who replaced theses vacant spots? Well, on guitar you have “the purple and pink haired” Marty Friedman, best known for his shredding prowess displayed on his 1988 solo album along with his work with Jason Becker in Cacophony. Nick Menza, a relative unknown was brought in to fill the vacant drummers chair. Little did Megadeths fans, or did the guys in Megadeth themselves realize that this lineup would become the most skilled, hailed, stable and critically successful lineup in Megadeth’s history.
But let’s return to “Rust in Peace”. Simply put this is one of the single most explosive displays of virtuous talent, brilliant songwriting, and one of the most cohesive thrash metal albums ever!
And of course with the addition of Marty Friedman, the fret work on this album is the highlight. Both guitarists seem to have a defined role that each is comfortable with, making the tag team effort of each that much better. Both Mustaine and Friedman burn through amazing fret burning solos with ease and impeccable speed due to their collective jaw-dropping skill.
Also, with the addition of more skilled instrumentalists, Megadeth could write and execute more complex, challenging compositions, clearly evident on “Rust in Peace”. Also, with this new found ability to write and execute more complex music, the focus shifts away the lyrics or vocals, which have never been a strong spot for Megadeth. But that said, the lyrics are fairly good, maybe due to the fact that they don’t have to be the main focus and become more fluent and natural and less forced.
And with all the focus on the guitars it’s easy to imagine that the rhythm section of bassist Dave Ellefson and drummer Nick Menza are merely second though on this album. But they aren’t, the guitars on this album are the highlight, but without the rhythm section those guitars would devolve into aimless shredding. The rhythm is a driving force and helps the guitars in turn become much more interesting. So in many senses the rhythm section is just as important on “Rust in Peace” than any other part.
As for highlight material, you don’t have to wait that far to find it, as the first two songs, “Holy Wars…The Punishment Due” and “Hangar 18”, respectively, are absolute killer tracks! The rest of the tracks aren’t a letdown by any means, but in a sense, they are almost too consistent. Not that they sound the same, it’s just that one of the things that made some Megadeth albums good was the range of material. “Take no Prisoners” is another standout, along with the title track “Rust in Peace…Polaris”.
Overall, “Rust in Peace” is one the best albums that the thrash era graced us with, and is one of Megadeth’s finest moments. If you ever want to call yourself a true fan of Megadeth, this album is essential.
I don’t consider this Megadeth’s most classic album, but it’s damn near close. With the addition of Marty Friedman on lead guitar, Megadeth became pretty much the most talented and most technical thrash band of their time. Rust in Peace is easily among the genre’s fastest, heaviest, and most intricate offerings and pretty much an undisputed example of thrash metal virtuosity at its finest.
Naturally, the guitar work is the highlight of this album. The riffing is fast and intricate, as is the songwriting. Some of the band’s most complex passages are included here and definitely some of their heaviest rhythm work. Guitar solos are frequent and unbelievable. Every one is beautifully crafted and masterfully written. The Mustaine/Friedman tag team is the band’s most complementary duo, their lead styles mixing incredibly well. And guitar solos are definitely frequent. “Hanger 18” has something along the lines of eleven individual solos by itself. The guitar work is indeed amazing, but benefits greatly from killer drumming and bass throughout. Great fills throughout for the drums and the bass gets a lot of rhythmic highlights. A solid performance from both.
The songwriting is in top form here as well. Lyrics are awesome, song construction is brilliant, and tempos are dynamic. No two songs have the same feel, a bit of a rarity among thrash metal. Mustaine’s vocals aren’t going to blow you away, but his snarl is welcome here, especially considering the lyrical subject matter. The anti-political sentiment expressed on previous albums culminates to its fullest here and the result is quite memorable and surprisingly topical even today, though the lyrics don’t dwell on the subject for the whole album. The songs are just as varied, most notably the entirely bass driven “Dawn Patrol.” Some don’t like its inclusion, but it definitely fits the mood of the album, if its not an outstanding track in and of itself.
Overall, we have another solid album by one of thrash’s greatest contributors. This album’s lineup would go on to become the band’s longest lived, though not necessarily the most consistent. Regardless, this album is amazing. Pretty much an essential listen.
Classics: Holy Wars/The Punishment Due, Hanger 18, Take No Prisoners, Lucretia, Rust in Peace/Polaris
Another day, another 'classic' unworthy of the name. Speed metal sure produced more than it's share of these, probably because its popularity peaked right as most metalheads were forging their identities, but before they were old enough to consistently make the critical distinction between genius and crap. This time, it's Megadeth's wildly praised (but utterly inconsequential) Rust in Peace.
First, let's take care of a little housekeeping. I'm not usually particularly concerned about production values, but Rust in Peace has, without a doubt, one of the worst mixes I've ever heard. The sound is open, echoing and empty, every instrument comes through clearly, but this is at the expense of any range of sound or even sounding like a band at all (as opposed to a collection of guys instruments at the same time). The rhythm guitar sound is, in particular, a godawful, tinny, and overprocessed, sounding like nothing so much as videogame music circa 1995. "Sterile" doesn't even begin to describe this abomination.
Equally frustrating is the content of the album itself. The skill of the band immediately leaps out at any listener. No doubt, these are talented musicians, and, what's more, musicians with a sense of restraint and an understanding of the fine line between complexity and noodling. But it doesn't matter, because none of this talent is ever put to effective use. There are interesting moments (like the little flamenco nod in "Holy Wars...The Punishment Due") that make you wonder what could have been had Dave Mustaine been possessed of any real imagination or creative talent. Unfortunately, all we are provided with are Dave Mustaine versions of ideas from other artists. In other words, songs distinguishable from the work of other bands only by the slight technical upgrade, Mustaine's irritating drawl, and the trademark paranoia/amature humor of Mustaine's lyrics.
So, we get Megadeth doing an Iron Maiden impression ("Hanger 18", which becomes even more derivative toward the end with musical paraphrases from "Master of Puppets" and "Paradise City"[!]), Megadeth doing Anthrax ("Take No Prisoners") and Megadeth doing South/Seasons era Slayer ("Five Magics", the album's standout track in that it is the only one that really expands any on its influences), along with sundry other musical borrowings sprinkled liberally throughout the album. The lone exception is "Dawn Patrol", basically a brief (1:50) spoken word interlude where Mustaine trades his affected snarl for an affected British-accented whisper (or is that Ellfeson, I've never been all that clear on this one), accompanied only by drum and bass. The (half) song achieves a measure of sinister charm precisely because it avoids the various speed metal cliches that litter the rest of the album.
In the end, Rust in Peace does not live up to its billing as a 'classic,' nor does it even manage to forge a creative identity of its own. Instead, we are 'treated' to a sophisticated tribute album, a talented band giving an album length survey of speed metal as a genre (which probably accounts for its enduring popularity). As an academic exercise, this offers a useful summation of what went before, as an album in its own right, Rust in Peace is an unmitigated failure.
If you've read my Peace Sells... But Who's Buying? review, you may recall that I said that I felt that record was their best. I'd like to say right now that I'm not entirely sure what was going on in my head at the time, but that I can now say that I was wrong. That's not to say that Peace Sells isn't damn good, because it has some killer songs like the title track, "My Last Words", and "Good Mourning/Black Friday", but for all it's quality and charm, it can't beat this sparkly wall-o'-thrash Rust in Peace. This album is one of the most melodic thrash records that I have ever heard, everything scintillating hi-fidelity and most of the riffage emphatically light and blitzkrieging, even the trademark Bay Area crunch bits coming off as nimbler than even their more progressive rivals, although the trade-off being that they seem quite a bit less heavy.
There really aren't many albums out there like this to my ears, just this strangely virtuosic melodic speed, Marty and Dave not necessarily playing more complex than others, but perhaps simply playing more thought-out music at high speeds, because even the shredding when it comes it usually hooked to soaring harmony leads (and when, they cut like knives), Indian flavours, and jazz-based noodling that bust out unpredictably but generally with a modicum of logic. Perhaps my favourite lead on the album comes on "Lucretia", because it's so slow and drawn out despite the speed of the riffery in the background, a good minute and a half of amazing soloing stuffed into a highly underwritten track until the whole thing seems fit to burst like an overheated pizza pop, yet mysteriously stays a whole perfectly. In fact, many of the riffs sound like solos because they're so note-dense and often so lead-based, which just leads to this feeling of a veritable symphony of guitars. Not only that, but on tracks like "Five Magicks" they seem to cram thoughtful solos intro every available space, and with Friedman's touch it works perfectly.
In addition, the band has a secret weapon in Dave Ellefson, because whether or not he's the most technically adept player out there (I wouldn't know) his sound is lovely. The intro to "Poison Was the Cure" is simple, but I just love that warm, full bass line, unhurried and tight as the guitars solo around him slowly build before introducing a great, fast drum and superbusy riff, pointedly showing you kids how to build a mood. Furthermore, when he's given a chance to do a solo spot he's magic, his little "Take No Prisoners" bass run being a beautiful piece of business.
Yea and verily, the songs (and more importantly here, the riffs) are top-notch, each song section virtually independent of the whole, "Hanger 18" lyrical section a brief intro to the shredding solo-fest on the back-half, "Take No Prisoners" exhibiting a shoddy first verse before morphing into a near perfect thrash assault as annoying melodies are exchanged for a short multiple-solo break as segue to a completely different and infinitely superior second verse. It's funny that the sprawling "Holy Wars...The Punishment Due", despite it's abrupt shift at the midway point feels more cohesive than say, "Five Magicks" which rambles off into a half-dozen sections that hit and miss with equal frequency.
"Tornado of Souls" is the only real conventional song on here when all's told, the other candidate "The Dawn Patrol", a highly abbreviated bass with Dave's strange English accent, being so far out of the headspace of any other thrash act, hell metal act, that it becomes worthless to compare it to anything else. There is something about this very strangeness that makes RiP such an enduring album, something more being the sheer riffing genius of the thing of course.
To be fair, I've got some problems with this. The tracks are really underwritten, a verse or two before more breakdowns (I swear they fit Dream Theater's six-minute "Metropolis" break into thirty seconds on some of these tracks), some of the song structures here being more than worthy of getting some more writing time, an example being "Poison Was the Cure" which could've used either another two-verses of equal length or a re-read of the existing ones. There aren't enough choruses here either, the only one with a significant one (outside of "Rust in Peace...Polaris") "Tornado of Souls" having such a great one that it hurts that we only get to hear it twice. Also, there is still some goofiness apparent in the monster voice on "Five Magicks" (seriously, it's like a Steel Attack record or something) and the stupid backing vocals (and ending refrain) on "Take No Prisoners" that make me want to curse the 80's in general (did someone say the disc came out in 1990? Quiet, you). Oh yeah, and "The Dawn Patrol" despite having a truly awesome title, seems rather pointless.
However, despite some issues and reservations I have, or rather because every time I hear something incredible on this record (roughly every five seconds) like the chunked-up version of the main "Holy Wars" riff in the back half of the song or the spiralling descending chorus riff on "Rust in Peace" (seriously, it's such a visual riff that one can almost see the bombs dropping) or any hundred other sporadic, unique, and wonderful nuances, I find it in my heart to forgive them for all of those mistakes.
Stand-Outs: “Lucretia”, “Holy Wars…The Punishment Due”, “Tornado of Souls”
I don't know what influenced Dave Mustaine and company to create Rust In Peace. Easily one of the most incredible thrash albums I have ever heard but I could go for a slice of it. After the less successful So Far So Good... Megadeth really needed to deliver an outstanding album which they achieved easily. Despite all the hype over this album I still don't consider this album overrated. Its that good. One thing noticable other than the intricate guitarwork is that this isn't the heaviest thrash metal album you will ever hear. This melodic edge to thrash metal might not appease most but they easily make up for this with the amazing guitarwork. Dave Mustaine's vocals are also weak(although I enjoy them immensely) from a metal standpoint but he writes some incredible lyrics and music to make up for this. Which brings us to the other critical aspect to the albums success. The lead guitar of arguably one of the best lead guitarists on the planet Marty Friedman. One thing that propels Megadeth above the zounds of other thrash acts is the barrage of outstanding solo's Special mention to Dave Ellefson for his excellent basslines which is a privilege to hear in great metal music.
Rarely have I seen such a display of such great rhythm and lead guitarwork as with Rust in Peace. From the massive speed riffing of Holy Wars to the insane guitar solo's of Hangar 18 this album is full of excellent music. Megadeth's ability to create songs that sound very different musically is another strong point. Each song is unique and different that is next to never repetitive. I could drag on about how 95% of their riffs are excellent but its an album that needs to be heard to appreciate. With the exception for the short bass passage which is still great each of the songs are outstanding. Its a shame Megadeth was never able to recapture this genius on later albums. I am still grateful that they released Rust In Peace. An undisputed thrash metal classic which I would recommend to anyone interested in Megadeth or metal in general. A must own metal album if I've ever seen one.
Favorite Tracks: Literally all of them but if I were to pick. Holy Wars, Hangar 18, Tornado of Souls
This is, as many people seem to note, Megadeth's finest hour. The guitar combination of Mustaine and Friedman are together for the first time, and each puts out probably the finest performance of their respective careers. There are absolutely no weak spots on this album (except one song), and it combines riffs and lead guitar in a way that few albums do.
Highlights - Tornado of Souls is almost Megadeth's finest song, coming in second to no slouch - My Last Words. The ideals are similar, though the solo isn't quite as overwhelmingly Blackmore-like. Still, it owns you, me, and everyone's grandmother. It maintains a combination of melody and intensity that can be found on few albums (Painkiller comes to mind). The seemingly endless guitar duel at the end of Hangar 18 is also a favourite (as is that schweet power-metal intro riff), as is the little acoustic interlude in Holy Wars which then leads into a real bludgeoner of a riffset. On a different note, Poison Was the Cure is an all-out thrasher, as is the second half of The Punishment Due, where it really picks up with that break riff and the soloing, and Polaris also totally bludgeons one over the head with several choice riffs, including - again, the main break - just guitars, and man do Megadeth know how to get that right. (Oh yes, I should mention that on Take No Prisoners, it's a bass break.)
Weak points - well, I've never really seen the point of Dawn Patrol. Other than that, this album is insanely effective. The highlight of Megadeth's career - this is what their previous three albums were leading up to. Five Magics starts off like Hook in Mouth from the last LP, then goes into a little interlude, before busting open again with insane amounts of heavy fucking metal. There's so much going on in here, and even about 12 years and one worn out tape after I first heard this album, I'm still impressed.