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One of thrash's definitive classics. - 95%

Kingravi, October 1st, 2002

Following Killing is My Business..., Megadeth made a record that was tenfold its superior. Mustaine addresses some of the problems with the first one here, fixes them, and takes a huge leap in terms of songwriting, as huge as (dare I say it) Metallica did when they released Ride the Lightning. The insanely fast tempos from the debut still abound on this one, but they are complemented by slower sections, some very melodic and tasty leads, and some excellent clean guitar (see Mustaine's instrumental, Good Mourning).

Of course, you can't have classic thrash without speed, and the boys deliver here, with astounding results. Some of the riffs on this record are just mindblowing: they're not as technical (generally speaking) as most of the stuff on Rust in Peace, but they're raw as fuck and have a hell of a groove. The leads are as stunning as always, with Mustaine's blisteringly fast pyrofretnics pairing up nicely with Poland's fluid, fusiony style. One of the tunes that illustrates this combo most effectively is the anthemic title track: Poland and Mustaine sear the joint with excellent fills, in what is quite simply some of the most exciting guitar playing to ever grace a metal record. Personally speaking, I prefer this guitar attack to the Rust in Peace era slightly. The rhythm section of Gars and Ellefson is also very good, even though the drums are a bit buried in the mix and the bass has a slightly ridiculous sound: it's very loud. Mustaine's vocals, as always, are a bit of an aquired taste: either you like em or you don't. His snarling, growling delivery on the record is very effective tohugh, even if it's almost unintelligible.

Highlights are Good Mourning/Black Friday, Wake Up Dead, Peace Sells, My Last Words, Bad Omen, hell the whole album. From the incredibly scatching eastern-tinged leads in the opener, to the tapped frenzy that comprises most of Devil's Island, to the insanely fast, Maidenish glory of My Last Words, there isn't a bad moment on this album. I've heard quite a few people complain about the cover of Willie Dixon on the record, but it's extremely fun to listen to: I mean, a thrash band doing blues should be enough to pique your curiosity.

I think it's amazing the way Megadeth and Metallica carved up the world of technical thrash between them: everything we still hear today is basically descended directly from them, with new bands shamelessly aping their style, or mixing it with others. While Megadeth have had a very, very inconsistent career, this record (and Rust in peace) more than justify their fame and the respect they command in the metal community. Highest possible recommendation.