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While this is not quite as good as the first two Megadeth albums, it still beats the pants off of most everything that followed. Dave Mustaine could still write killer riffs, vicious leads, and some of the nastiest and most sarcastic lyrics ("Liar" and "Hook In Mouth" come to mind immediately) out there; Dave Ellefson still was cranking out some badass bass work with sharp tone that didn't just follow a mindless 8th-note pattern into the ground or follow the guitars. This, for me anyway, was the last gasp of Megadeth as a vital and powerful band in the international metal scene.
New recruits Jeff Young and Chuck Behler did a competent job, but ultimately were not as inspired as their predecessors, Chris Poland and Gar Samuelson. Young's leads were chaotic and scattershot, not cohesive or terribly memorable, and Behler's drumming was unimaginative. A shame, because the booming drum sound really dominates and deserved a better drum performance. They hold back this album from really killing in the long run.
There are still some magnificent moments on this album nonetheless, such as opener "Into The Lungs Of Hell", an excellent instrumental; the moody and creepy tandem of "Mary Jane" and "In My Darkest Hour"; the thrash/stomp monster, "Hook In Mouth"; the scalding "Liar". But the cover of "Anarchy in the UK" is weak and entirely too fast and comes off as weaker and more foo-foo than the original, a right nut-kicker of a song to this day even nearly 20 years after the fact. Even Steve Jones' appearance on this song is tacit and perfunctory at best. You can tell that the drugs and drinking were taking effect at long last and it was making the music suffer.
Paul Lani's production favors the drums, as mentioned, and while this is good, the guitars are thin in comparison. The bass still sounds good, razor-sharp and clean like vintage Chris Squire, though, and this is a plus in a world where the 4-string wrangler is usually buried beneath the guitars. Mustaine himself is in fine form vocally, his customary high-pitched squawk/snarl approach not changing at all as he rattles off his barbed lyrics with contempt and vitriol. But still, this album comes off as not as fiendishly creative and energetic as the first two in the long run; I can detect a tiredness and ennui creeping in beneath the surface. Perhaps they were realizing that Metallica had outdone them in the popularity/influence sweepstakes and the seeds of their selling out were starting to bloom...
Everything that follows this LP, as mentioned, is weak and unworthy of the Megadeth name. Don't bother with anything after this one, the last gasp of the "true" Megadeth.