Review Summary: Megadeth hit hard and fast with a superb debut.
Certain parallels shall forever be drawn between Megadeth and Metallica but it is only on the debut of the former that the two cross over. Killing Is My Business was an album that came about following Megadeth frontman Dave Mustaine's forced departure from Metallica. This is one release that you can not forget due to its balls to the wall attitude found throughout. Whereas Metallica were slightly more stream lined and always had a degree of melody to them, Killing Is My Business is a release that keeps its foot firmly on the accelerator and hand firmly to your throat.
The reasons for Mustaine's departure vary depending on who you are to ask but one thing is certain-his removal from Metallica was a blessing in disguise. Who knows if he had remained in that band what the out come would have been. Would there ever have been Master Of Puppets or Rust In Peace-two of the best known and most highly valued thrash metal releases? Both bands went on to release a good run of classic albums but of the two it was Megadeth who started out the best. Their debut is a slab of pure unadulterated speed metal unlike anything out there with intense guitar work and unrivalled fury behind the vocals. And all this starts off with... A piano line?
Loved To Deth is a great way to begin an album of such collosal magnitude as Killing Is My Business with the titular words forever remaining embedded in your mind after you first hear Dave's tortured voice spew them out. After the brief piano introduction this dives straight into the fastest material Megadeth have ever recorded that still maintains a fair degree of technicality that they would expand upon following this album. When you look past the undeniably fuzzy production (it really is awful) this album is an absolute gem that delivers nothing but ass kicking songs. Rattlehead in particular sticks out as a song that is somewhat in line with the NWOBHM style of guitar work and the numerous lead licks and guitar solos that would later form the basis for a number such as the title track to Peace Sells.
One song that every Megadeth and Metallica fan will have conflicting opinions on is Mechanix. This track weaves a twisted web that speaks of having sex with a girl and uses various metaphors relating to cars and mechanic work. It is not the lyrics that stick out however, nor the riff work but in fact it is the story behind it. This was one of four songs that Dave Mustaine wrote whilst with Metallica that the band went on to use on their first studio album, Kill Em All, under the name of The Four Horsemen. In a drugged up rage Dave decided that he was going to strike back at his old band by re-recording this track with his new band Megadeth under its original name with the original lyrics. No matter which version you personally prefer there is no denying the impact that comes with hearing such a lightning fast collection of riffs and demented vocal performance from Dave.
The aforementioned problem with the production is a major set back for those first getting into this album, particularly if you are not well versed with foul production jobs already. Similar to many thrash debuts, this is a low budget release due to the fact the band spent much of the original allocated budget on drugs and booze so they were left with just a small chunk of what they were originally granted. This low cost also spread onto the album art work which was not in line with Dave's original visions for the art work but instead, quite frankly, sucks. The guitar work on here is fuzzy and the bass is scarcely audible whilst the drums carry a flat tone and the cymbals just destroy the mixing job completely. Dave's vocals are also mixed too loud so that everything that was already difficult to hear now becomes nigh on impossible to distinguish.
The vocal performance on here is a subject of much debate as with many albums by this band. Some love Dave's overly nasally voice and his characteristic snarl as they feel it perfectly embodies what he strives to achieve with the lyrical content-the snark, sarcastice, snide lyricism that he loves to utilize. On here however he really does not do a good job. Whilst on later releases he is not exactly the best singer of his generation he is at least listenable and suits the style of music a lot better with much lower tones to his voice and a considerable amount of force behind making himself sound as aggressive as he possibly can. On Killing Is My Business he feels weak and usually very whiny and whilst the anger is there it is not used nearly as well as on other Megadeth releases.
The guitar work on Killing Is My Business is its real selling point. It is fast and straight to the point with no strings attached-the riffs are as quick as one can imagine and twice as creative; the soloing flies by at the speed of light with numerous solos per song and the dual guitar assault works very well. The riffs to songs such as The Skull Beneath The Skin and Mechanix stick out as some of the best. The guitar work on here is almost always thundering along as fast as humanly possible so that the notes are very hard to make out; especially when the production is factored in. The drumming keeps a solid beat whilst never sticking out as being particularly creative but is still nice to hear and helps the music move along at a quick pace. Not a lot of comments can really be made on the bass given that it is completely inaudible, buried beneath a sandbag of riffs.
This is a solid debut from Megadeth that combines so many good riffs with a whole bucket of aggression that it is hard to over look this in discussions about the best thrash debut.