Review Summary: Mustaine sells...Part III of IV: Peace Sells…But Who’s Buying?, by Megadeth
Ah, we all remember our good friend Dave Mustaine, do we not? After being kicked out of Metallica, he swore he would have revenge. And that revenge came, in the form of a band that would be heavier, faster, and most of all, better than the one he felt betrayed by.
Mustaine then recruited bassist David Ellefson, guitarist Greg Handevidt, drummer Dijon Carruthers, forming Megadeth in Los Angeles, 1983. After an unsuccessful search for a vocalist, Mustaine took over the duty himself, as well as becoming the band’s main lyricist and songwriter.
‘Deth’s debut Killing is my Business… and Business is Good!
was released in 1985,after some line-up changes, and featured a low-budget production, resulting in a rawness similar to Metallica’s Kill ‘Em All
. It was not an immediate breakthrough, but when Megadeth recorded and released their second album Peace Sells… But Who’s Buying?
a year later in November, it became a commercial and critical landmark for the band, and often today, it is still cited as an essential thrash piece.
Peace Sells… But Who’s Buying?
Peace Sells’ Megadeth was:
- David Scott Mustaine ~ Lead Vocals, Rhythm Guitar
- David Warren Ellefson ~ Bass Guitar, Backing Vocals
- Christopher Poland ~ Lead Guitar
- Gary C. ‘Gar’ Samuelson ~ Drums
Artwork by Edward J. Repka
Mustaine has became synonymous with his political subjects, but although both the album (title and artwork) and its title track immediately evoke a feeling of political ranting, the subject matter on Peace Sells
is more diverse. In fact, the main idea is far from political, as more songs, such as The Conjuring
and Bad Omen
are about ritualistic matters and devil worshipping. More social themes can even be found, as on the man-cheats-on-girlfriend tale found on opener Wake Up Dead
. What all songs share, however, is the punkish attitude that is typical of early thrash metal.
Mustaine leaves no doubts about the revenge he craves, for his band’s second offering is indeed faster, heavier, and also more intricate than any of Metallica’s would ever get. Complex guitar work, trade-off solos and Mustaine’s original and trademark snarl created the most important features that made Megadeth a unique player in the thrash scene, and accounted them to the Big Four. While Poland is a technically skilled and powerful lead guitarist, Mustaine shows he’s got just as much skill for it with his own soloing, and his unmistakable snarl is a very interesting way in making up for a real vocalist. The man can’t sing, but Megadeth would have been a very different Megadeth without that snarl. The rhythm section, on top of that, is top-notch. Ellefson gets enough moment to shine his bass through despite all the heavy guitar commotion, most evidently with the famous intro to the title track, as well as Wake Up Dead
, and Samuelson is a speedy and heavy-hitting drummer, complementing perfectly with Peace Sells’ feel.
Though the stylistic basis remains the same throughout, some song writing variety is abound. There are two shorter songs. Wake Up Dead
goes along at great speed, lasting for about 3 minutes,and the Willie Dixon
cover I Ain’t Superstitious
, actually the least interesting piece on the album, doesn’t even hit the 3-minute mark. The lengthy Good Mourning/Black Friday
though, is even somewhat of an epic, and shows a more progressive side to Mustaine’s writing. The remaining 5 tracks can be labeled as both solid and consistent, with the obvious highlight being the title track.
Where Peace Sells’ appeal maximizes, however, is it musical consistency. Mustaine has ever managed to gather a band of skilled musicians, and this album was no exception. The technical riffs and solos keep coming and going, and yet they never sound quite the same. Though along with Reign in Blood
one of the definite shorter ones of the Four, clocking at a mere 36 minutes, Peace Sells
makes up for it in the same way: it is an ongoing rampage, and it almost never has the mind to slow things down. Dave Mustaine and Megadeth are coming for you. They’re fast, they’re heavy, and they’re going to make sure you hear it. For the more technical of thrashers, Peace Sells
is your pick.
Wake Up Dead
Good Mourning/Black Friday
Megadeth would become known for many line-up changes, quite some formations lasting for just a single album, though Mustaine would always remain the driving force of the band. Their longest-lasting line-up would come with the highly acclaimed Rust in Peace
, featuring Mustaine and Ellefson, along with Marty Friedman on guitar and Nick Menza on drums. After that release in 1990, ‘Deth got more and more mainstream, and faced eventual degradation. Breakup followed when Mustaine experienced an arm injury, but the band reunited in 2004, recording two success stories The System Has Failed
and United Abominations
. As of now, they are working on their soon-upcoming album Endgame
, but of their thrash roots there is not a great deal left.
To be continued in Part IV: Among the Living…