Megadeth’s Rust in Peace can either be considered their masterpiece or the beginning of the end, although I consider it to be not just their masterpiece, but also thrash metal’s masterpiece. Although it is not quite perfect, it is about as close as you can get. Megadeth were born when vocalist/guitarist Dave Mustaine was kicked out of fellow thrashers Metallica for substance abuse, and, as rumor would have it, beating up James Hetfield, Metallica’s vocalist/rhythm guitarist. Megadeth’s lineup, at the time of the release, was:
Dave Mustaine- Vocals/Guitar
Marty Friedman- Guitar
David Ellefson- Bass
Nick Menza- Drums
The first thing I noticed about this album when I popped it into my stereo upon returning from Best Buy was how audible the bass was. The bassist, Ellefson, is clearly a creative force in the band as well as a talented bass player. On this album, Marty’s solos are incredible, whereas Mustaine’s are…..commendable for a rhythm player. Also, on numbers like “Take No Prisoners,” the drumming is very skillful. Anyways, onto the review:
1. Holy Wars/The Punishment Due:
a) Holy Wars: Holy Wars kicks off with a fast, technical spider-crawl riff. While this riff is played, a little lick is played by Mustaine and shortly thereafter, his vocals kick in, singing “Brother will kill brother, spilling blood across the land. Killing for religion, something I don’t understand.” This proves that lyrically, Mustaine is clearly a force to be reckoned with. The first part of this two-segment epic ends with an Egyptian-sounding nylon-string lick courtesy of Friedman, and thus The Punishment Due begins.
b) The Punishment Due: Part Two starts with a slow bar chord riff, over which Mustaine sings: “Up on my podium, as the know-it-all scholar. Down in my seat of judgement, gavels bang, uphold the law. Up on my soapbox, a leader out to change the world. Down in my pulpit as the holier-than-thou would-be messenger of God.” After this, my favourite riff on the album is played. It is slow, melodic, and with operatic (sort of) singing. This goes on for a minute or so, and then we are treated to an incredible solo by Friedman. A beautiful-sounding arpeggio is the focal point of this solo, but unfortunately it ends and goes into a fast, heavy riff over which Mustaine performs one of his famed pentatonic solos. The song ends with some frighteningly political lyrics, “Just because I don’t say it, don’t mean I ain’t thinkin’ it.” Then the song ends, unfortunately. 5/5.
2. Hangar 18: This number kicks off with a number of riffs reminiscent of Metallica’s “The Call of Ktulu”. Which is actually ok, because Mustaine co-wrote that song. This song does not have too many lyrics, as it is mainly shredding. In this song, there is a count of ten full solos, packed into a five minutes, which means that this song really must have very few lyrics. That detracts somewhat from the song, which is why I am giving it 4.5/5
3. Take No Prisoners: Ahhh, TNP. This song is truly a classic in my eyes, with its thrashy, wanky and yet technical riffs. It starts with a nice second fret powerchord riff, and then some crazy jungle-sounding drums accompany it, until it grows into a powerhouse of a song. In the opening verse, the “army voice” as I call it, is used. Mustaine wails: “Got one chance:” and the “army voice” (group vocals) come in with “Infiltrate them!” This goes on for a while, and then at last the group vocals yell, “BURN!” and a crazy descending riff is played, accompanied by a nice bass fill. After this, the song gets quite violent, with lyrics like “By the way, son, here’s your wheelchair.” This song is obviously about war, and it closes with Mustaine singing “take no prisoners” and the “army voice” yelling “take no sh*t!” 5/5
4. Five Magics: After a very strong opening, this song really fades, the low point being when Mustaine says something, and it is repeated by a really stupid-sounding “ogre voice.” The clear high point of this song is the cool arpeggiated opening riff and the rippin’ solos. Not much else to say about this song, though. 3/5
5. Poison Was The Cure: This song starts with some slow, palm-muted bass. This is a very blues-influenced number, as it is mainly pentatonic. After a slow beginning, this song speeds up, and a wanky riff is introduced. The song never looks back from here, but is not too great all the way through. Also, this song is very short, detracting from it. 3.5/5
6. Lucretia: A witch’s laugh opens this awesome track. Then a wicked fast and complex riff is introduced. The only problem in this song is Mustaine’s vocals. The solo is…..incredible. As always, the bass is nice and audible. Good song. 4/5
7. Tornado of Souls: A powerchord riff with harmonics introduces you to this one. It is then launched into a fast, pentatonic scale-fest. A soaring solo is the highlight of this song, as well as the lyrics: “You feel my cold breath; it’s the kiss of death.” 4.5/5
8. Dawn Patrol: A funky sort of filler track, I can’t really rate this as it is only bass and drums. So…. N/A
9. Rust in Peace…Polaris: “Launch the Polaris, the end doesn’t scare us.” This is the main lyric to this fantastic track. A sweet drum fill opens it, and it never looks back from there, with atmospheric solos and everything to its credit. You can obviously tell I love this track, so, 5/5
I really, really like this album, and although it is not quite perfect, it is still Megadeth’s best, as well as the old NWOAHM’s best.
+Take No Prisoners
-Take No Prisoners
My final rating is 4.8/5, because this album is not quite perfect, but it is about as close as they come.