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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.