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Welcome to our sanguinary sect of worship - 87%

Deathdoom1992, May 28th, 2018
Written based on this version: 2004, CD, Capitol Records (Remixed, Remastered)

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Megadeth took a far more considered approach when they recorded the follow up to Killing Is My Business which, as we all know, resulted in 1986's thrash masterpiece Peace Sells.... The change is results in a more multidimensional, progressive second album, a noticeable reduction on the lightning fast frenzy than the debut.

This sounds like a noticeable improvement on the debut, no? Well, I don't hear it that way. I'll readily accept that I'm in the minority on this, but the debut has a certain charm, largely down to it being four guys on a shoe-string budget trying simply to be as fast and crazy as possible. And there's the fact that it's the album that got me into Megadeth, so I'll always have a soft spot for it for that alone. Peace Sells... however, is an advancement in almost all respects, but I just don't dig it as much as Killing.... Also, the song to song consistency varies far more on here than ever seems to be mentioned (no one talks about how "I Ain't Superstitious" and "Bad Omen" are a lot worse than ever other track, for example).

That said, when this album gets it right, then hooooly shit. "The Conjuring" transports you right to a Satanic ritual, with some of the most badass lyrics in metal history (the opening line, the title of this review, is a particular highlight), and the music to match, all at once apprehensive and undeniably thrashy once you get into the meat of the track. "Devil's Island" is more of the same, with tempo more reminiscent of the debut, driving guitars and vivid lyrics telling the tale of a man spared execution by God, though he has to live on an island for the rest of his life. Actually, that is a real highlight on this album: the lyrics. Every lyric written for this album is pure, unadulterated badassery in lyric form (even the unintentional hilarity of how much like "Nipples Island" the final refrain of "Devil's Island" sounds). Particular praise in that respect goes to "The Conjuring," "Black Friday" and the sardonic title track.

Musically, this album has far more diversity than Killing. Mustaine's singing has noticeably developed, for one thing. In addition to his now-signature nasal snarl from the debut, he now adds a sinister low-pitched tone, for use on songs such as "Wake Up Dead" and "The Conjuring". Ellefson has also been cranked up further in the mix, and boy can he play. He adds loads of fills all over the place, and just listen to his thunderous work on the closer "My Last Words." Mustaine and Poland continue to have riffs, leads and solos for days: listen to the fervour and technicality on display in "Wake Up Dead," a song which is an brilliant example of the genius of the Mustaine/Poland duo They positively rip through this album, and perhaps the ultimate testament to Peace Sells' brilliance: every damn guitar line on here is memorable. And Gar Samuelson has the opportunity to lay down more killer grooves than he did on the debut, and equal amounts of high-speed insanity, so there's that. What else can I say about him, excepting genius?

A note to add: if, like me, you have the Capitol remaster from 2004, you get four Randy Burns mixes, which essentially are the same but with even more prominent bass, and a louder, fuller snare sound. There's also a minor change to the arrangement of the title track: the music doesn't stop for the "If there's a new way..." line. That's about it. To wrap up: the highs are infinitely higher than those of Killing, but the lows also lower. It's a much better album when it gets it right, but there's still a couple of expendable tracks here. The way I see it, there are two kinds of Megadeth fans: those who prefer this, and those who prefer Rust in Peace. And while Peace Sells... is a damn fine album, I'm in the Rust camp all day.