Written By Jason Voorhees
April 11th marked the 37th anniversary of Dave Mustaine's highly publicized ousting from Metallica.
The band was in New York City on that ill fated morning as they gave him an unceremonious kick to the curb. The rest is history as this would become one of heavy metal's most defining moments. Metallica would go on to become one of the most successful metal bands in the world. However; that day set Mustaine on a path of revenge; one that would ultimately drive his own band's monumental achievements.
That band is of course Megadeth, who along with Metallica, Anthrax and Slayer are apart of the Big 4 of thrash metal. Although Megadeth has always seemed to travel in the footsteps of Metallica, many people would argue that they are actually the better band. Of course, we can leave that argument for another post.
Truth being told, Megadeth has always been faster and heavier than Metallica. In retrospect though, they retained their heaviness over the years while adopting a more mature lyrical approach throughout their evolution. Megadeth has provided an amazing model of consistency in thrash metal; in a world where most of those bands have had miniscule shelf lives. I guess you could say that they hold the ultimate consolation prize in that respect.
Nonetheless, Megadeth has carved out quite a musical catalog over the years. Fueled by a mission statement to become the loudest, hardest, fastest metal band on the planet, the band has had many ups and downs, while enduring multiple lineup changes over the years. In fact the era's can easily be defined by which lead guitarist is in cue. However; the one constant has always been Dave Mustaine and his endless passion to create great metal music.
There is no secret that Megadeth has always been one of my favorite bands and undertaking this project is a huge honor for me. There are so many great albums to review and this will be quite a challenge to undertake. Nonetheless, we will use the same guidelines when ranking the records. All dimensions are taken in to account including main riffs, music composition, music flow, and the overall impact.
So please come along and join us as we take a walk down memory lane in Megadeth's discography...
15. 'Super Colider' (2013)
This was supposed to be the album that would catapult Megadeth back into superstardom. Instead it would ultimately become a bona fide super clunker. A truly disappointing album that even the most die hard Deth fans would have difficulty stomaching. Firstly, the record lacks that creativity that we've all grown accustomed to with Dave. The song writing seems lazy and basic. Tons of filler and not much thriller. Hands down the worst effort that Megadeth has ever wrote. The opening track "Kingmaker" provides the only semblance of a hit track. Other songs like "Off The Edge" and "Dance in the Rain" are just ok. In fact, the high point may just be their cover of "Cold Sweat." This was another misguided attempt to attract mainstream love, hopefully one that Megadeth never tries again. Move along.
14. 'Risk' (1999)
Just like the title laments, this album was a shot in the dark and the results were unflattering. However; contrary to popular belief, the record is actually not as bad as one might think. In fact, it's actually a pretty decent album, just not for Megadeth. Having one of thrash metals icons take a stab at pop music was a huge mistake, but hey...let's give them credit for taking that risk. Although it did not pay off at the box office as well as alienating most die hard fans, the album is far from poor. It's just not Megadeth. There was some stellar songwriting and a few standout tracks that keep this one off of the bad list. Songs like "Prince of Darkness" and "Time: The End" had some classic thrashy riffs and "Breadline" was an above average anthem. Not one of their better albums but certainly not the worst.
13. 'Thirteen' (2011)
This is the next tier of Megadeth albums as 'Thirteen' comes in at 13. Chris Broderick's sophomore effort on lead guitars certainly paid off. It also marked the return of David Ellefson (Jr.) on bass guitar. The only complaint about the album is it's overuse of recycled material from years past. All in all a solid metal record that brings that classic Megadeth thrash attitude front and center. "Public Enemy No.1" was a stone cold smash hit while tracks like "Sudden Death" and "Fast Lane" scream thrash metal democracy. Broderick and Mustaine flex their chops throughout the album as Megadeth once again proves that they have cornered the thrash metal market. The album closes out with a stellar ballad that eerily paints Mustaine's life in words for the whole world to see. Hidden Treasures Part 2.
12. 'The World Needs A Hero' (2001)
Undoubtedly Megadeth's most underrated album, this one gets widely overlooked. After totally missing the mark on 'Risk', the band decided to go back to its heavier roots and the results were generally positive. Long time axe man Marty Friedman had decided to call it quits so Dave sacked former Savatage guitarist Al Pitrelli for the job. There is plenty of substance with dynamic songwriting and directional lyrics. "Dread and The Fugitive Mind" and "Disconnect" were standout tracks. However; it was sleeper hidden gems like "1000x Goodbye", "Burning Bridges" and "Recipe For Hate...Warhorse" that really shouted the albums staying power. This may not have been the top of the mountain; however it was Megadeth embracing their thrash history as they pressed reset.
11. 'United Abominations' (2007)
One thing about Megadeth is that when the chips are down they have always seemed to hit the right notes. And that's exactly what this thrash metal masterpiece did upon release. The band returned to form with an all out assault on the senses. With the Drover brothers in toe, Dave was on a mission and the goal was kicking ass and taking names. The songwriting was stellar and on point and the lyrical content was Dave at his peak. The first two tracks provided the best opening one-two punch on a Megadeth album the likes we have not saw since 'Countdown.' "Sleepwalker" and "Washington is Next" are two high energy stalwarts that rival some of the bands very known classics. There are many other underrated tracks throughout the record. Welcome back to the top boys!
10. 'The System Has Failed' (2004)
This was supposed to be a solo album for Dave after disbanding the group only two years prior due to a serious arm injury. Instead he would just round out a lineup and continue under the brand. The record marked the return of Chris Poland the bands first lead guitarist and the reunion hit the spot. Despite the lack of cohesive band members, the album features a strong mixture of styles that expands the entire discography gamut. The result was an awesome heavy metal record that everyone would appreciate. Solid tracks up and down the lineup with very few duds. Standout tunes include "Die Dead Enough", "The Scorpion", "Tears In A Vial" and "Kick the Chair." Another almost forgotten effort that rarely receives the praise it deserves. One of my all-time favorites no doubt.
9. 'EndGame' (2009)
'Endgame' is virtually a mixture of the two previous records doused with speed. The first album of the Chris Broderick era was an instant favorite with fans and critics alike. It was a return to the bands thrash metal roots as they tried to mirror the 'Rust in Peace' style of speed with a continued mixture of melodic elements. An old school vibe with a new age attitude and flavor. The album is littered with pinpoint guitar solos galore as well as those thumping hard hitting bass lines which bring you back to the eighties. Tracks like "This Day We Fight", "44 Minutes" and "Head Crusher" harken back to classic style Megadeth. While "The Hardest Part of Letting Go" showed off Dave's elite songwriting techniques. If your a die hard Deth fan then this one surely will feed your fancy!
8. Cryptic Writings (1997)
Coming off two of their most successful albums to date, the proposition of topping those efforts would prove to be fleeting. However; 'Cryptic Writings' was still a very strong album in the scheme of things. After embracing more mainstream rock elements during it's predecessors the band tried to push the envelope even further. The results were a mixed bag as many fans and critics were truly disappointed. Nonetheless, the album still incorporates precision songwriting with pinpoint lyrics; the mainstay formula that has garnered the band much success. Tracks like "Trust", "Use the Man", and "Almost Honest" became radio classics. However; the crème of the crop has to be "She Wolf" which has some of the best guitar solos ever assembled. There's quite a few sleepers as well. The last of the classics.
7. 'Dystopia' (2016)
Change has always been good for Megadeth and the same holds true for this album. Mustaine recruited lead guitarist Kiko Loureiro (Angra) and drummer Chris Adler (Lamb of God) as part of a new and improved lineup. The results were stunning. An extremely impressive metal record that combines the old school thrash playbook with an advanced modern style of metal. Adler's dynamic drumming style brings back shades of Nick Menza while Kiko's neo classical style of axesmith shouts Marty Freidman. A solid metal album that checks off every box on the musical spectrum. As always Mustaine is at the top of his game both musically and lyrically. Some people may complain that there are too many solos but that's what die hard droogies truly live for! Just pimp "Poisonous Shadows" if you disagree.
6. 'Killing Is My Business...And Business is Good!' (1985)
Dave Mustaine has always been a brilliant songwriter as evidenced right away on this debut release. Low budget mockery aside, this was an excellent metal record. It was the first of it's kind at the time, something that had never been heard. The shock value alone was worth its weight in gold as Mustaine announced Megadeth's arrival on the map. Despite poor production, the album provided the archetypal template for all future thrash metal bands to come. The unquestionable kingpin had already written a lot of Metallica's early material and now he had his own brand in the cross hairs. It was a pissed off ferocious assault that was only fueled by the revenge he was seeking. A true thrash classic that would definitely be much higher if only for its low budget flavor.
5. So Far, So Good...So What! (1988)
The Jeff Young era would ultimately be short lived. That's not to say that he did not make any impact on the band. In fact, this album always gets lost in the shuffle when discussing Megadeth classics but certainly deserves its weight in praise. While most of the band members were chemically strung out during most of the recording process; it makes the final product that much more impressive. Tracks like "Into the Lungs of Hell" and "Set the World Afire" (originally titled megadeth) provide that old school thrash. While "Mary Jane" and "502" embellish a more dynamic attitude. And who can forget "In My Darkest Hour" which is a heavy metal eulogy to Metallica's Cliff Burton. However; the icing on the cake is surely "Hook in Mouth" which belongs in Megadeth's top 5 of all-time. This one's full of heavy hitters.
4. 'Youthanasia' (1994)
We have certainly reached the top tier now. The only thing holding this album back from being higher on the list is that there are three albums that are better. Don't kid yourselves though, 'Youthanasia' is absolutely killer. The last album to be recorded as an entire band unit, this one truly captured all of the technical precision in the quartet's mastery. A heavy metal masterpiece that is littered with harmonic and melodic elements throughout. Some of the most melodic metal that Mustaine has ever produced. Many top of the line hits as well as a hidden gem delight. The album flow is almost true perfection. There is no secret why this was their second highest grossing record. The results are self explanatory. This is plug and play at its finest.
3. 'Peace Sells...But Who's Buying' (1986)
Some people will scream blasphemy with the position of this one but hear me out. While there is no doubting that this was a career defining moment for the band as far as albums go, you have to look at the total picture. It definitely demolished the sophomore slump theory. It also captured the dynamic abilities of Mr. Gar Samuelson and Chris Poland, the likes that we may never see again. Of course the title track would give the band the mainstream breakthrough that it was desperately seeking. While the rest of the album proved that Megadeth was at the top of the thrash metal podium. The bulk of the tracks are marvelous. Definitely top of the line worthy but not when you stack it up to against the final two. Nonetheless, one of the classic thrash metal albums of this generation.
2. 'Countdown To Extinction' (1992)
'Peace Sells' and 'Countdown' are virtually interchangeable unless you are counting album sales. Now I realize album sales does not define a record but when comparing the two, 'Countdown' reigns supreme. This was Megadeth's answer to Metallica's 'Black' album and the results were out of this world. The band's highest charting record all-time was polished and pure. Definitely the best produced album as far as sound and some of the best flowing tracks ever assembled. Of course it contains multiple mega hits along with criminally underrated efforts galore. Totally killer and zero filler is an excellent recipe for a mega hit record and 'Countdown' definitely takes the cake. Maybe I am biased but this is definitely my go to whenever I need my Deth fix. A heavy metal masterpiece.
1. 'Rust In Peace' (1990)
This is Megadeth's Mount Rushmore...the crème de le crème. In fact, this is the state of the art thrash metal album...one that definitely belongs in the halls of the all-time greats. The first two tracks alone provide one of the seminal one-two punches in heavy metal album history. "Holy Wars" and "Hangar 18" remain synonymous in any conversation that may discuss metal track greatness. While "Tornado of Souls" garners noise for being in best all-time solo conversation when it comes to heavy metal guitar mastery. In fact, the entire album features Dave Mustaine and Marty Friedman at their absolute peaks. From beginning to end this is a timeless classic that never gets old. I still get chills the moment I push play and the energy that is generated is endless. Megadeth's version of Van Goh's "The Starry Night!"
Well we sure hope that you enjoyed this version of top album lists! It was definitely extra fun getting to cover one of my all-time favorite bands. With that being said, we always ask for audience participation!! What were your picks? And do you have any bands that you would like us to cover in future segments. We challenge you all to get involved!
Well, we certainly hope that you are staying safe during these trying times. And as always...Don't forget to check out Kevin Law and Johnny E on Thursday evenings from 7PM-9PM as they run the gamut of all your favorite heavy metal classics...old and new! I am sure Kevin has a great show lined up for this week and am looking forward for any and all surprises!!! As we leave you...please enjoy this Megadeth classic...
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