Review Summary: 21+ years of pure thrash.
Megadeth - Rust in Peace
Sputnik rating: 4.5
Tremble you weaklings, cower in fear! I am your ruler, of land sea and air! Prepare for adrenaline-pumping riffs, explosive drums, and thick bass lines as Mustaine and gang take you through one hell of a ride. After the 80's, thrash was quickly becoming massive. Each one of the Big 4 of Thrash continued to release genre-defining albums, even after 1986. Slayer released the acclaimed, brutal Seasons in the Abyss, one of the fastest albums ever made. Metallica and Anthrax both released ...And Justice For All and Persistence of Time, respectively, the former a heavy, long album that was critically acclaimed around the world, and the latter a surprisingly adult approach, which turned out to be their best to date. However, there was one album in particular that solidified one of the Big 4's status as metal gods, one that made them even bigger: Megadeth's Rust in Peace, which spread like wildfire in the metal scene.
Around the time of release, the group had no guitarist and Mustaine had recently become sober. They became to audition for new guitarists, but several exceptional guitarists, such as Guns N Roses' Slash and Dark Angel's Eric Meyer. Most of the guitarists were rejected for either being too inexperienced, too young, or being drafted into another band. Eventually, one kid who didn't make the audition, recommended Marty Friedman, ex-guitarist of Cacophony, who eventually made the cut after passing Mustaine's - hilariously enough - so called 'Rock School 101'. Rust in Peace's recording went well, due to the band's new sobriety, and Rust in Peace soon topped Peace Sells' massive acclaim and cult following, earning the group an additional following and a Grammy nomination.
Right from the opener and highlight, "Holy Wars... The Punishment Due", Megadeth introduces their stronger tone they mastered effectively: using more structured, rhythmic sections, while keeping up the heavy, punk-influenced sound, making for a more progressive-styled melody. The guitar work in Rust in Peace is amazing from beginning to end. Mustaine performs the rhythm guitar on the album, and solidifies his title as being one of the best rhythm guitarists of all time. Due to being very progressive for its time, when thrash was evolving, Mustaine uses a perfect blend of arena-styled shredding, grinding riffs when the album is aggressive, and Friedman uses power chords and progressions to their greatest, creating heavy, dark riffs when the album shows its softer side. Songs like 'Tornado of Souls' and 'Hangar 18' really absorb the listener with its layered solos and progressions, both the rhythm and the lead electric guitar as a whole. They enhance the mood of the record, and rarely come off as repetitive or overused.
Nick Menza handles the drumming layer of the album, who does it with unusually precise flow and booming beats. Menza was hired by Mustaine after his original drummer, Chuck Behler, who left the bend out of indifference and let his drum tech, Menza himself, fill in his spot. The double bass drums are intense, creating dramatic rolls and fast fills. Several noteworthy heavy metal and progressive influences pop up from time to time in his kit, making for an exceptional performance. The opener of 'Rust in Peace... Polaris' and the lightning fast fills in 'Tornado of Souls' are particular highlights. Bassist Dave Ellefson churns out one of his best bass performances yet. The stellar riffs in Holy Wars and Poison Was The Cure, and the thick chords in the short but sweet Dawn Patrol are particular highlights. A nearl flawless performance by Ellefson.
As an album, Rust in Peace is years ahead of its time. There are several thrash albums that continue the trend, but Megadeth's fourth release is a very progressive, unique metal album that goes beyond the norm. Despite the obvious flaws, such as Mustaine's wailing, rather off-key vocal performance, and the quality of some songs, this is an otherwise amazing album. Highly recommended.
Rust in Peace... Polaris
Holy Wars... The Punishment Due
Tornado of Souls