After being dumped across the country by his former band mates in Metallica, Dave Mustaine was, understandably, pretty angry After all, he had the most writing credits on the band's first album and Metallica was doing exceedingly well in the metal underground. Oh and he was stuck in New York. He vowed to get revenge on his ex-band mates (somehow), and as luck would have it, Dave found himself a new band. The band was to be called Megadeth and which eventually included Chris Poland on guitars, David Ellefson on bass guitar, and Gar Samuelson on drums. 1985 rolled around and Megadeth released its debut album, Killing is My Business... Poor production qualities plagued the record, but it was fairly successful none the less. Fast-forward some 17 years and here we have Dave Mustaine, agreeing to fix the mistakes of the band's past and remastering the album.
Much like Metallica's Kill 'Em All, the original version of Killing is my Business, had a very raw feel to it. And much like Kill 'Em All, it was slightly difficult to listen, at least at first. The remaster is greatly appreciated, for it removes the fuzzy, hard to hear sounds of the 1985 version, replacing them with a crisper, cleaner tone. But don't fret; the album still retains that raw, thrashy sound that one would expect from an 80's thrash band. Though the Mustaine/Poland tandem is certainly not as good as the Mustaine/Friedman duo, the pair still gets the job done. With the exception of the closing track, a cover titled These Boots (undoubtedly the albums worst song), each track features several shockingly infectious guitar orientated sections. Be it rhythm or lead, riff or solo, beat, fill, or baseline, every instrumental aspect is performed at rapid speeds, speeds that could knock the wind out of any fan of the genre. Okay, perhaps it’s no Darkness Descends or Reign in Blood, but it’s still fairly impressive and fun to listen to. As far as vocals go, well, those not well versed in metal will most likely not appreciate Dave's efforts here (especially in the original version of the album). Though it probably isn't the first time Mustaine has found himself behind the mic, while listening it is fairly evident that he is still developing is vocal approach. Fans of other early thrash vocalists shouldn't have any qualms with Mustaine's delivery, as it has a much more likeable tone then the vocalists of Metallica, Slayer, or Overkill. Just don't be expecting too much.
As far as songs go, Megadeth's debut album has several excellent offerings. Of these songs, Mechanix is probably the most well known, and probably the best as well. For the song was originally written for Mustaine's old band, Metallica. Though Metallica ended up slowing the song down and making it longer (end result: The Four Horsemen), Dave was content in leaving it as he originally written it years before. Though the music is indeed quite fun to listen to, my favourite part of the song would actually be Dave's contribution vocally. Mechanix houses what is by far Dave's finest vocal delivery on the album. As it is in The Four Horsemen, Mechanix's chorus is particularly strong. Dave's powerful vocal lines are among the most memorable points in the album, an impressive feet considering the numerous (short, yet interesting) interludes that the song features. Another highlight found on Killing is My Business is the title track. An energetic piece from the band, every important aspect to be found in a Megadeth track can be heard here. Though shorter than Mechanix, it too has an excellent, anthemetic chorus. But the real story here is definitely the relentless guitar assault from Dave and Chris. The pair displays strong musicianship throughout the three minute track, musicianship shown through technical, precise riffing. The tandem is very coherent and the heavy verses (accompanied by solos and other leads later on of course) of the album's title track flow exceedingly well together.
As with any album, there are weaknesses in Killing is My Business. When dealing with the original copy of the record, one obvious con is lies in the production values. But what else aside from that? One of the album's weaker aspects is the final track, These Boots. The Nancy Sinatra cover (with edited lyrics, however) was weak enough in its earlier variant, (with weak, misplaced soloing, boring riffs, and arguably the Megadeth main man’s weakest vocal efforts) if you happen to own a remastered album you'll find that most (if not all) of Dave's edited lyrics were bleeped out. This was done to avoid the pending legal problems which the Nancy Sinatra camp threatened to impose upon the band. As the dust settled it was neither Megadeth nor Sinatra who came out disadvantaged, but the fans. For the 2002 version of These Boots has been pretty much destroyed in every way. Fans of beepy noises should be pleased with the way the new song turned out, but it turns out to be a disjointed mess for everyone else. Skip it. Unless you like beeps of course. Another weak element of the album is the lyrics. Similarly to Mustaine's singing, the lyrical department needs work but is luckily is slowly developing. Lines such as "Ten thousand up-front/Ten thousand when I’m through/And I know just what to do/And you know I’ll do it too/Then I’m coming back for you ....Back for you"
or "I'm giving you my room service/And ya know it's more than enough"
show a juvenile approach to songwriting. I suppose lyrics aren't exactly the main focus of a metal band, never mind a thrash metal band, but future songs show that Dave can write much, much better.
Despite the pressure of living up to Metallica's early works in the metal underground, Megadeth was able to create a solid, impressive debut album. Though it had a few production errors, (and the ugliest Megadeth cover art ever) it proved to be quite successful, spawning the band a career that has continued (with a few bumps and detours) to this very day. The much appreciated remaster of the record fixes many of the problems that the original had, created some of its own, but remains a worthwhile investment. The raw, rabid fire thrash attack that Megadeth had become known for on their first few records is out in full force in Killing is My Business..., and fans of at least thrash metal should find the effort really likeable. For some reason, Killing is My Business... has been quite hard to track down for whatever reason, but should you find it, I would definitely recommend picking it up.
Killing is My Business...and Business is Good
Last Rites/Loved to Deth