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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.