Artist of the Month – March 2018: MEGADETH

The Age of Thrash: Megadeth

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In two centuries, when music historians and anthropologists study the enduring cultural phenomena called metal, I believe the conclusion will be that we are living on the cusp of the age of thrash. Four decades of thrash releases in the top 10 on the Billboards (including multiple number ones and in the top 3’s), the influence and cultural significance of thrash metal cannot be ignored.

Few bands have been as significant in the thrash movement as Megadeth. At a time when Def Leppard was tearing up the charts, the music video to the mega classic Peace Sells…But Who’s Buying was one of the first to introduce the genre to the general American consciousness. The song and video’s influence is well documented, and both are still referenced and parodied to this day.

Just like the genre itself, Megadeth has been notoriously underestimated and counted out, yet are consistently able to come back and rattle the metal community’s head. The follow up to their well regarded sophomore effort was highly anticipated, yet the aptly titled So Far, So Good…So What?, wasn’t as warmly received. Lacking the late groundbreaking Gar Samuelson and his guitar slinging partner Chris Poland, the now classic album garnered the band many new fans but at the time it was considered a step down musically. Add on personnel problems that saw band members hit rock bottom, and many thought that Megadeth had peeked.

Well, those people were wrong, as the band quickly answered with the needs-no-introduction-you-have-no-business-reading-this-if-you-don’t-know-and-revere-it – Rust in Peace.

They then followed that up with a couple of smash hit albums that rocked the U.S., giving birth to a new  generation of younger fans. After 1994’s multi platinum selling Youthanasia, the press seemed to turn on Megadeth, as metal in general was under attack in the mid ’90’s with the advent of grunge. Greatness however is eminently adaptable and survives. Megadeth responded with a series of hit singles via 1997’s Cryptic Writings; Megadeth was still relevant.

Fast forward beyond a couple of questionable creative decisions and the Megadeth brand took a hit. The juggernaut battled on however, until a severe nerve injury crippled our hero Dave Mustaine’s golden arm! The band virtually disbanded, lawyers got involved and there was a court case. The brothers were fighting, and the million dollar arm was as dysfunctional as the bitterness that everybody was feeling at the time.

It was over and the band’s enemies rejoiced.

Rattleheads and droogies from around the world, collectively pulled a Darth Vader in Episode III: NOOO!!

Our snarling maniac, however, wasn’t about to let a little thing like having your arm crippled deter him. In a Herculean feat, despite what must have been a grueling rehabilitation effort, our hero wrote an album’s worth of lyrics and music. In a mere 3 years since their last release, Mustaine hired legendary musicians and quietly gave the world the critically acclaimed The System Has Failed.

It didn’t stop there, however, as the line up stabilized (more or less), and the  band released another good album. Then it happened. The magic came back, and even though it felt wrong without Megadeth‘s other original member, they released a rattling old school thrash album called Endgame in 2009.

Soon after, more great news ensued: the brothers had reconciled. The band diplomat and the bass player whose style any four stringer looking to join must learn and copy, was back. They released another great album and a third generation of fans was born. Personal tragedy ensued, however, as our heroes are humans, living human lives.

Musically the followup wasn’t as hard hitting, and didn’t win over too many critics.

Then there was, in my opinion, betrayal, as the drummer and guitarist publicly and near simultaneously quit the band! I’m not privy to what happened behind the scenes, however, it was in my opinion a classless move.  Especially since those two very talented musicians named their new project Act of Defiance. Ugh.

Out of the woodwork one of the old ghosts decided to weigh in. I’m not sure how a person can be so good looking and technically skilled, yet so lacking in charisma and talent, however, according to this obvious enemy it was over for Megadeth.

The band, however, had other ideas. 2016’s Dystopia was yet another smash hit, landing at number 3 on the Billboards, even out-ranking their monster hit Youthanasia. It was also an immense critical success, as the reviews across the board were stellar.

The band was so hot, that even the industry noticed and awarded them a long over due Grammy.

It seems that whenever Megadeth‘s future is in doubt, they make history. They continue to remain relevant, and despite all of the setbacks, the band is on the path towards the Hall of Fame.

Band leader Dave Mustaine is a household name for any metal head. Along with his long time brother-in-arms, bassist David Ellefson, the band’s history is indelibly stamped on music history and the American cultural consciousness. The irony is, just as with previous counter cultural movements (hippie, biker, rock ‘n roll, etc), corporate America is appropriating thrash with pop stars and clothing lines which it will regurgitate to the masses as cartoon versions of the anarchist ideals of the genre.

For a ranking of  Megadeth albums, go here.

Killing Is My Business…And Business is Good!

Dave Mustaine: piano, rhythm and lead guitar, vocals.
David Ellefson: bass guitar, back up vocals.
Chris Poland: lead guitar.
Gar Samuelson: drums.

Release date: June 12 1985
Producer: Dave Mustaine and Karat Faye
Length: 31:10
Label: Combat

Peace Sells…But Who’s Buying?

Dave Mustaine: rhythm and lead guitar, vocals.
David Ellefson: bass guitar, back up vocals.
Chris Poland: lead guitar.
Gar Samuelson: drums.

Release Date: September 19 1986
Producer: Dave Mustaine and Randy Burns
Length: 36:12
Label: Capitol

So Far, So Good…So What?

Dave Mustaine: rhythm and lead guitar, vocals.
David Ellefson: bass guitar, back up vocals.
Jeff Young: lead guitar.
Chuck Behler: drums.

Release Date: January 19 1988
Producer: Paul Lani and Dave Mustaine
Length: 34:26
Label: Capitol

Rust In Peace

Dave Mustaine: rhythm and lead guitar, vocals.
David Ellefson: bass guitar, back up vocals.
Marty Friedman: lead guitar.
Nick Menza: drums.

Release Date: September 24 1990
Producer: Dave Mustaine and Mike Clink
Length: 40:44
Label: Capitol

Countdown To Extinction

Dave Mustaine: rhythm and lead guitar, vocals.
David Ellefson: bass guitar, back up vocals.
Marty Friedman: lead guitar.
Nick Menza: drums.

Release Date: July 14 1992
Producer: Max Norman and Dave Mustaine
Length: 47:26
Label: Capitol

Youthanasia

Dave Mustaine: rhythm and lead guitar, vocals.
David Ellefson: bass guitar, back up vocals.
Marty Friedman: lead guitar.
Nick Menza: drums.

Release Date: October 31 1994
Producer: Max Norman and Dave Mustaine
Length: 49:57
Label: Capitol

Cryptic Writings

Dave Mustaine: rhythm and lead guitar, vocals.
David Ellefson: bass guitar, back up vocals.
Marty Friedman: lead guitar.
Nick Menza: drums.

Release Date: June 17 1997
Producer: Dann Huff and Dave Mustaine
Length: 46:44
Label: Capitol

RISK

Dave Mustaine: rhythm and lead guitar, vocals.
David Ellefson: bass guitar, back up vocals.
Marty Friedman: lead guitar.
Jimmy DeGrasso: drums.

Release Date: August 31 1999
Producer: Dann Huff and Dave Mustaine
Length: 51:34
Label: Capitol

The World Needs A Hero

Dave Mustaine: rhythm and lead guitar, vocals.
David Ellefson: bass guitar, back up vocals.
Al Pitrelli: lead guitar.
Jimmy DeGrasso: drums.

Release Date: May 15 2001
Producer: Bill Kennedy and Dave Mustaine
Length: 57:49
Label: Sanctuary

The System Has Failed

Dave Mustaine: rhythm and lead guitar, vocals.
Chris Poland: lead guitar
Jimmi Lee Slaos: bass guitar
Vinnie Colaiuta: drums

Release Date: September 14 2004
Producer: Dave Mustaine and Jeff Balding
Length: 48:24
Label: Sanctuary

United Abominations

Dave Mustaine: rhythm and lead guitar, vocals.
James LoMenzo: bass guitar, back up vocals.
Glen Drover: lead guitar, back up vocals.
Shawn Drover: drums.

Release Date: May 15 2007
Producer: Dave Mustaine, Jeff Balding, and Andy Sneap
Length: 47:56
Label: Roadrunner

Endgame

Dave Mustaine: piano, rhythm and lead guitar, vocals.
James LoMenzo: bass guitar.
Chris Broderick: lead guitar.
Shawn Drover: drums.

Release Date: September 15 2009
Producer: Dave Mustaine and Andy Sneap
Length: 44:42
Label: Roadrunner

Th1rt3en

Dave Mustaine: rhythm and lead guitar, vocals.
David Ellefson: bass guitar, back up vocals.
Chris Broderick: lead guitar, back up vocals.
Shawn Drover: drums and back up vocals.

Release Date: November 1 2011
Producer: Johnny K and Dave Mustaine
Length: 56:36
Label: Roadrunner

Super Collider

Dave Mustaine: rhythm and lead guitar, vocals.
David Ellefson: bass guitar, back up vocals.
Chris Broderick: lead guitar, back up vocals.
Shawn Drover: drums.

Release Date: June 4 2013
Producer: Johnny K and Dave Mustaine
Length: 45:14
Label: Roadrunner

Dystopia

Dave Mustaine: rhythm and lead guitar, vocals.
David Ellefson: bass guitar, back up vocals.
Kiko Loureiro: piano, lead guitar, back up vocals.
Chris Adler: drums.

Release Date: January 22 2016
Producer: Dave Mustaine and Chris Raketstraw
Length: 46:51
Label: Tradecraft/Universal

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