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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)