Review Summary: Classic thrash metal, needless to say
Among any form of extreme heavy metal, thrash was crowned king in 1986. This threating, dark, aggressive, and ridiculously fast style of metal rose to a huge underground following in its early years largely thanks to the "Big Four" of Thrash Metal; Metallica, Megadeth, Anthrax and Slayer. The former two being the most successful and arguably the founding fathers of the sub-genre. 1986 saw brilliant achievements from three of these titans (Anthrax being the only exception): Metallica's "Master of Puppets", Slayer's "Reign in Blood", and Megadeth's "Peace Sells... But Who's Buying?", three of quite easily thrash metal's most ambitious offerings in the 80s.
"Peace Sells... But Who's Buying" is definitely one of Megadeth's greatest works. Darker, but much more powerful than it's predecessor "Killing is My Business... And Business is Good!", "Peace Sells" showcases some of the best songwriting from front man Dave Mustaine. The music of "Peace Sells" is immortal and punishing, more so than even "Rust in Peace" (Widely considered Megadeth's finest album). That's the great thing about the album, it has it's own feel to it that the rest of Megadeth's catalog seem to lack. Later albums like "Rust in Peace" and "Countdown to Extinction" may have tighter riffing and cleaner production (partly thanks to the band being sobered up), but not without "Peace Sells"' technical, raw and piercing force, complete with insane drumming and snarling vocals from Gar Samuelson and Mustaine respectively. The vocals are done so perfectly, as they make the perspective of the lyrics seem either serious or evil depending on the song. The vocals themselves also help make this easily the most "quotable" Megadeth album. To any Megadeth fan, casual or hardcore, it's hard to resist singing to oneself daily without it being a line from anywhere on "Peace Sells", especially the title track, in which the full album title is repeated as an outro in the style of an anthem. It all fits so well. Aside from the backing tracks, of course, there's the lyrics.
Each song has lyrics so intense that Mustaine has not reused some of their themes (let alone play them live in recent years). All of Mustaine's lyrics cover the bleak, controversial topics in daily life. Excellent album opener 'Wake Up Dead', written possibly in the perspective of Mustaine himself, is about one who cheats on his significant other and fears that she'll kill him when he wakes up. The aforementioned title track is both a rant about politics and peace as well as a humorous rant about common "metalhead" stereotypes in the eyes of a heavy metal fan. 'Devil's Island' is about a prisoner on Devil's Island. 'My Last Words' is about a deadly game of Russian Roulette. The rest of the songs, with the exception of the Willie Dixon cover 'I Ain't Superstitious', connects to killing, Satan, and occult in some way or another, the best example being the bold 'Good Mourning/Black Friday'. With murder and occult haunting the listener throughout 6+ minutes and virtually unstoppable thrash strength, 'Good Mourning/Black Friday' unleashes what may be the most sinister lyrics than that of any other Megadeth song.
In every way, each of the album's seven original tracks offer very original and brutal ingredients, musically and lyrically, that helped shape the Megadeth we know today. Going back to its incredible power, its easy to see how much strength it has over all other albums in Megadeth's back catalog in some way, all of the songs are larger than life, vicious and punishing metal classics that all fit together to form a classic metal album. "Peace Sells" is easily one of the greatest heavy metal albums in history, a title that's held true today.
'Wake Up Dead'
'Good Mourning/Black Friday'