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Decent representation of the band - 69%

Chainedown, January 11th, 2016
Written based on this version: 2005, CD + DVD, Capitol Records (Limited edition digibook)

I consider my perspective a lot different from the others on this release, so allow me to pitch in my two cents and justify my rating without getting emotional.

With respect to Megadeth, here’s my profile: I’m only a casual fan, never kept up with the latest Megadeth news, and to this day I haven’t bothered to go buy another Megadeth record.

The CD attempts to overview the golden era of the band’s career (the 80s and 90s) in a balanced manner. And, frankly, even with some great songs like "Tornado of Souls" missing, I still think this song selection represents the best of Megadeth well. Aside from obvious classics, I’m glad “Trust” is here to showcase the band’s more melodic songwriting, as well as lesser-known songs like “Train of Consequences”, "Kill the King”, and “Angry Again” where the band finds a middle ground between melody and technical appeal. Not only did I get a good overall picture of what Megadeth is all about, listening many times to this release made me want to explore more of Megadeth, and I did go on to eventually listen through their albums I have not yet heard at the time I got this.

I also find the song order to be agreeable here. While it isn't chronological, the older & highly rated songs are generally lined up first, while more recent (and not-as-highly-rated) songs tend to be towards the back end of the order. I am in favor of such an approach because the CD grabs the listener's attention with the best of the best, and keeps the listening experience interesting with diversity. It also sounds cohesive, despite putting songs from different albums next to each other. For example, the first three tracks - “Holy Wars…”, “In My Darkest Hour”, and “Peace Sells” - all flow very well from one to another, thanks in part to their instantly recognizable riffs. Compared to the other Megadeth compilation releases, I think this one is the best in terms of number of songs included and the order in which they are presented.

Nonetheless I can’t give this release a higher rating - I have the version that came with a DVD, and the DVD is god awful. Its main feature is the live performance from 1999, but the sound mix is inexplicably bastardized by sporadically cranking up Dave Mustaine’s solos to an obnoxious level where others are drowned out. To make matters worse, such mixing also exacerbates Dave’s sloppy performance on that particular night. Drowning out Marty Friedman’s solos is also a huge disrespect to Marty, who had a better performance than Dave in the film. Watching the band perform with Marty should have been a great pleasure, especially because this was one of his last performance before he left heavy metal for the world of J-pop, but the sound mix totally destroys the experience. I suppose the DVD also does a good job of representing what to expect from Megadeth (or, specifically, Dave Mustaine), in an ironic way.

I will admit that the criticisms by others on this site (and elsewhere) do leave a very bad taste in my mouth. I had no idea for a long time that the songs on the CD were supposed to be chosen by fans’ votes (which would have been very cool). I do feel really bad for the faithfuls for having their wishes ignored and betrayed. I also agree that Megadeth has put out too many compilations with similar set of songs, and I definitely don’t like feeling like I spent my precious money on a cash-grab.

But, my $10 is gone and will never come back, and at the end of the day, I don’t regret buying this. This release is good enough to satisfy my occasional and casual Megadeth fix. I’m genuinely happy with what I have.

Wait...the Fans Voted for This? - 10%

doomknocker, December 26th, 2014

When I heard "Back to the Start" was to be compiled and released, I was annoyed. Really? Another Greatest Hits album? And I wasn't alone; all sorts of folks and fools I (once) knew derided this as nothing more than Capitol attempting to squeeze some more dolla-dolla bills from the group's fanbase. Funny how just about so many of these compilation albums that pop up is from this label, ain't it? But anyway...unlike other Best Ofs out there, this was promoted as something the fans on the Megadeth BBS could vote on; they're the ones setting up the track list, the songs they want the most. It sounded like a great idea, at the time, and if they/we truly got our way this could have been the comp. album to put other thrown-together corporate cash-in comps to shame. Our choice, our voice, if you will.

But what we got, instead, was an insulting fabrication. Looking back (still a bit fuzzy), I wonder if this was really up to the fans. Maybe a lot of them voted for some of the more commonplace staples in Megadeth's oeuvre, especially the ones that we know inside and out and love to death, but the whole track listing looks too much like your basic Megadeth "Best Of"; the most familiar, overplayed, and "face-of-that-particular-album" tracks. You know the ones I mean; Peace Sells? Oh, "Wake Up Dead" and the title track rather than "Devil's Island" or "My Last Words". Rust in Peace? "Holy Wars" and "Hangar 18" versus "Poison was the Cure" or "Tornado of Souls". Even something as unfortunately overlooked as Cryptic Writings didn't escape the "been there, done that" approach with "Trust" (which I'm personally sick of), yet "She Wolf" was a welcome surprise, I must admit. It's almost like the albums being represented only offered those specific songs rather than offering an entire disc's worth of material, at least half of which was worth their weight. And we know the former scenario is not the case at all.

It truly does feel like the head folks at the label tossed this together, had the band make a statement to the fans about this contest or whatever, and ran through a wall with songs we saw coming a mile away. If this was meant to be the fans' decision, were these the only options? Did we really get the entire Megadeth song list and ended up with a collection of the ones we're ultimately used to and/or sick of? Was "Killing is My Business..." off the table completely, as it tends to be with Capitol Records-borne compilations, save for "Mechanix?" I can't say what the actual results were as I said my piece back then and thought no more of it, but I do know that, according to my own introspections and other testimonials I'd collected, maybe 45-50% of these would have made the cut and many of the lesser known, yet ultimately better, songs would have been included. If they got enough votes, that is. But that wasn't up to us, it seems, in more ways than one.

In the end, as with just about every other Megadeth compilation (if not compilations in general), this was an unnecessary release that offers nothing more than a facade of the fans' opinions mattering. I could be coming off as too harsh against this given how much I loves me the 'deth, but seriously, enough's enough. We won't be wasting our time and money on multiple refried "Greatest Hits" any longer.

Talk about a cash in... - 10%

Lane, June 17th, 2012

Another compilation of hits from Megadeth. This time around the songs were chosen by the Megadeth forum members. But isn't it weird enough, that many a best-scoring song doesn't appear here? Why? Hey, money talks, if you didn't know! It says that "the track list for this collection is largely the result of a poll..." Yeah, largely, which is still true, because the singles scored well anyways.

I enjoy most of the songs here, even the 'Risk' (1999) one, 'Prince of Darkness'. But the problem is, that there are so many overplayed songs, which you hear in concerts or on a radio. Or then not, as these are 2004 remixes! Those remixes of all Megadeth albums from 1980's and -90's are something I don't want to hear. 'Kill the King' is a nice surprise at least, because it's more rare a song. If I'd make my own Megadeth "best of" CD, some of these songs would appear on it, but nowhere near every single one.

Why I bought this, then? I bought this because of the bonus DVD. I bet many Megadeth fans did, and will. I got this album as new for under 7 Euros, so it felt like a bargain. At least sort of. The DVD's main attraction is, as one would think, live at Fillmore Auditorium, Denver, Colorado 27th December 1999. However, only seven songs are available here, but probably because their studio versions can be found on the CD. Lame... The band sound incredibly bored, as there's no energy flowing at all. This was one of the last gigs for guitarist Marty Friedman, so Mr. Mustaine acted as usual to thank his band mate for all the years and mixed Friedman's guitar very, very quiet. Only Marty's solos and some other bits are really audible. LAME! Thank you, Dave Mustaine, for this totally unnecessary live abomination. It's not even of bootleg quality. The video clip for 'Kill the King' is the best thing here. It's "nice", that it appears here and not on 'Arsenal of Megadeth' with other video clips (minus 'Crush 'Em'). Simply too "buy 'em all" mentality from the record label and the band. Well, so is the video, because it is just a collage with cuts from older video clips...

This is NOTHING BUT AN AWFUL CASH IN, so a huge "fuck off" to Capitol Records!!! I wanted to write this as a warning! Only for true Megadeth completists, this one.

(originally written for in 2010)

What do we have here? - 45%

erickg13, November 30th, 2006

We have a mess of a greatest hits album. Without any knowledge of the whole Megadeth forum fiasco, it’s still a mess.

This was made to revive interest in the band for their comeback and maybe introduce their music to new fans, but fails due to its lack of early material. They overlook their strongest material in favor of a balanced attack from each album, which for this band doesn’t work! Why? Because Megadeth made their initial fan-base through their early thrashier material and this almost but not completely feels like it skims over that era. Another problem is that the tracks are not in chronological order, which due to the myriad of themes and styles of their work makes this feel a bit choppy.

All that said, this does give you a flavour from each album, good or not so good. Also none of this material is bad per se, but it could have been stronger.

Overall, “Back to the Start” is understandably hated by fans, but for those slightly curious to Megadeth this is an okay starting point. However people who really want to get into them should start with “Killing is my Business...and Business Is Good” and work their way up the albums.

We Chose the Songs, But We Didn't Get Them - 9%

Dark_Mewtwo1, July 10th, 2005

I'm a member of the Megadeth message boards, and I am there quite often (my post count is a testament to this). When the webmaster and Dave announced that we would vote for the songs, everyone was excited, after all, we all knew that Dave wanted to do the right thing instead of releasing another Capitol Punishment. Boy were we wrong or what?!

I have no problems with the music. None at all. I like every single track, some more than others (IE A Tout Le Monde...I really can't stand it that much anymore). I was happy to see Prince of Darkness included, I liked the song, but after that, this isn't a review on the music, because we all know it's great. This review is a rant.

What the hell man?! Many songs had more than 2,000 votes and didn't make it, IE Take No Prisoners, Good Mourning Black Friday, TORNADO OF SOULS!!!! Instead, we get songs that were not voted on as much, or the singles, because all the idiots voted for the singles. And it would have been a much better deal if this would have been a double album, or a live album even, because the material here doesn't really do Megadeth's 20 years justice. We all know the songs, we want more. And the DVD is nothing to shit at either, it's just a bunch of footage from the Risk tour, which in itself was horrid because Marty was getting ready to leave Megadeth and those are some of his worst performances ever. Don't even bother buying this unless you want a copy of Kill the King, which is a great song.

Who cares? - 15%

a8o, June 30th, 2005

The result of a months long survey of Megadeth forum users to decide which tracks to include on a greatest hits album. The way votes were recorded, however, says a lot about how poor this disc is. Each album was given its own poll on the forums and the tracks with the highest overall votecount were recorded. If the fans could have their way, the best of Megadeth would include most of "Peace Sells...But Who's Buying?", "Rust In Peace" and a few tracks from the rest. I consider "Killing Is My Business...And Business Is Good" and "So Far So Good... So What!" to be far more deserving of the passing mention they get here. The rest is really crap when compared to the '85-91 so call 'filler' material (like "Take No Prinsoners", not included here.) For a band with an already vast back-catalogue and already existing compilations still in print, it must be asked for whom this album was really compiled?

Sales figures for "The System Has Failed" indicated that, while Megadeth has a strong following today, it is not a band creating new fans with its latest releases. A greatest hits such as this, designed to lure in new fans, is therefore missing its mark. The song selection is highly unoriginal and so on the same token there are no old tricks to lure long time fans into a purchase by including one or two temping additions. For exampleI would have loved for Dave to do what Anthrax did with "The Greater of Two Evils" and re-record the classic Megadeth tunes with his new band, who are an amazing fit for Megadeth live (or even record another live album).

But since he didn't, this review really only functions to criticise the way this album was marketed and decided upon: under the guise of being for the fans of Megadeth on their official forums, it ends up not for new fans, not for old fans and is therefore totally and utterly redundant.

Prince of Darkness ? Best-of ? Something's wrong.. - 18%

TreyAzagthoth, June 30th, 2005

Mustaine has an undeniable talent for music, even though Megadeth's last albuns are quite regular he's a great musician. But in the last few years (or decade ?) he's showing to the fans another talent, to make us waste our money on shitty records (Risk pops in your head, right ?) or useless compilations (Why release something like 'Still Alive.. and Well?' ?), and now he present the fans again with: 'Megadeth's Greatest Hits: Back to the Start'.

The album starts off wrong, the name 'back to the start' should mean something like, songs from the first albums, classics such as 'rattlehead', 'set the world afire', 'devil's island', etc.. but no, the tracklist here features probably the most overrated songs of the band, something to MTV-freaks to buy. Even the classics on the album are very familiar to all the fans, yes.. 'Holy Wars', In My Darkest Hour' and 'Hangar 18' are good examples, in fact, these three songs you can find in 3 or more Megadeth albums, so.. buy the studio albums instead.

The only reason for a fan to buy this, is if you want to own all Megadeth discography, besides that there's nothing new here and you'll not want spend money to hear 'Prince of Darkness' again.

By the way, the name of the album should be: 'Still Alive.. and DEFINITELY not Well !'

Selected by the fans, but hardly for the fans - 20%

stickyshooZ, June 25th, 2005

So this is it - another Best Of compilation from Megadeth. The catch? This time the tracks were selected based on fan votes from Megadeth’s official forums. You’d think that leaving a compilation track list up to the fans would be the best possible way to get a good compilation album, but unfortunately, they even managed to fail at that. There is a reason it’s called “Best Of” and not “Mediocre collection”.

Yeah, you get a couple of awesome classics such as Holy Wars, In My Darkest Hour, Hangar 18, A Tout Le Monde and Wake Up Dead…but when it boils down to it, what else is there? There are seventeen tracks on this compilation and I can name at least ten that I’d like to see replaced with songs that are more deserving of recognition. Instead of delving into the days of when Megadeth actually meant something and wrote songs that even the test of time couldn’t dilapidate, the fans have chosen to take the contemporary road – a path that does not even come close to representing the best eras of this band. What happened to the underappreciated classics, like Hook in Mouth, Into the Lungs of Hell, Rattlehead and Take No fucking Prisoners? A man’s Megadeth compilation is not complete without Take No Prisoners, no matter how many classics you put on it.

Prince of Darkness, Kill the King, Dread and the Fugitive Mind, Trust, Angry Again…how many people gave or give a damn about these songs? This is like a hamburger without the meat. Please don’t put anymore money into Mustaine’s pocket and fueling his oversized ego by purchasing this piss poor release. All of you asshats who voted on this track list suck at life.

W00T W00T ALBUM COUNT +1 - 23%

music_shadowsfall, June 16th, 2005

So imagine this. You'rethe frontman of an old metal band that has just released a quite average album. You have your ego and wallet to placate, but don't want to put in any actual effort into anything. So, you decide that it'd be a pretty good idea to wash your integrity further down the drain by releasing your third "best of" compilation in three years. And, the result, is of course, shitty.

Yes, this is Megadeth's third "best of" in five years, which is bad enough in itself. To further insult us, the metal consumer, Mustaine must have thought that it'd be a pretty good idea to not only keep on releasing these pieces of shit, but to also include a nearly identical tracklisting to one of the aforementioned best hits. I mean, at least Capital Punishment: The Megadeth Years had two new songs. This has nothing. This is a rehash of Capital Punishment with four extra songs or so added on and a few of the other ones taken away to make this album appear more "back to the roots". This is, in essence, bullshit.

So basically, this is in fact a complete waste of time and money. Not only does it follow in the past proud Megadeth "best hits" train of shitty song selection, but its also completely unoriginal in its song selection too. Good job and congratulations on this one, Dave.