(Thrash/Speed Metal) Megadeth - Peace Sells... But Who's Buying"
Released in 1986 (arguably thrash's peak), this album is often overlooked by masterpieces like Metallica's Master of Puppets
and Slayer's Reign in Blood
. This was Megadeth's second effort, and quite possibly their finest. Lead by the incredible Dave Mustaine, Megadeth have created a CD that every thrash lover should have.
After Mustaine was kicked out of Metallica, he got together with bassist Chris Ellefson to form Megadeth. Going through many line up changes (including Kerry King from Slayer) they settled with the following:
Dave Mustaine - Guitars
Chris Poland - Guitars
David Ellefson - Bass
Gar Samuelson - Drums (and cigarette burns, according to the booklet!)
A fantastic lineup, even without the services of soon to be rhythm guitarist, the technically brilliant Marty Friedman. Though Megadeth would go on to change their lineup several times, the two core members, David Ellefson and Dave Mustaine would never leave the group. (yeah I know Ellefson left in 2002, but so what")
Wake up Dead (3:40)
Beginning simply enough, with a snare roll and a bassline to match, the album is off to an immediate start with Wake up Dead
only 20 seconds or so we are introduced to Mustaine's incredible guitar ability with his first of many amazing solos. Mustaine's vocals are of a legend somewhat. Either you love it or you hate it. This is perfectly portrayed in the opening song with his unique lyrics. This song is more focused on the music than the lyrics, it has a big instrumental session in the middle of the song, where it goes for 2 minutes + without lyrics. It makes up for it though with a killer riff and some great solos. Another thing to note in this song is that the bass is quite prominent, rare in the thrash genre. This continues throughout the entire album. A great way to open a great album.
The Conjuring (5:04)
Another simple intro is used to get this song underway, a simple triplet riff over a chord. Mustaine's growling vocals are heard soon after, then a killer riff is brought in. Mustaine's and Poland's sheer talent is really on show in this song, with great solo and rhythm work. It's a technically complex piece, but unfortunately, not really too exciting.
Peace Sells (4:04)
The title track (well, sort of) has quite humourous lyrics, rare in this genre:
What do you mean, I don't believe in God"
I talk to him every day.
What do you mean, I don't support your system"
I go to court when I have to.
But anyway! This kicks off with a stomping bass riff and another great filler solo courtesy of Mustaine. This song is slowed down considerably, but it has one of the best riffs in the album, and thanks to great soloing, it is one of the better tracks on the album. The chorus riff is splendid, nearly as good as the verse riff. The song speeds up quite a bit around the 2:20 mark and stayed that way. It repeats the lyrics "Peace Sells... but who's buying"" quite a lot, over some killer solos. Overall, a great track.
Devil's Island (5:05)
What can't you say about this song that isn't good" It has EVERYTHING. An excellent opening riff, exploding into a shred-infested solo, into a lightning quick galloping riff for the verse, with an even better chorus, incorporating both the excellent riff into the galloping verse. The solo(s) in the instrumental are quite incredible really. It finishes with yet another riff (that's five) and a great solo over the top of that.
Good Mourning/Black Friday (6:41)
The "epic" of the album. The intro is to die for. I'm fairly sure Poland does the lead work, as Mustaine plays the acoustic. About the 1:10 part there is a long ascending/descending solo part that is almost Yngwie like. The best way to describe this song is: technical thrash at its best. Splendidly gory lyrics that Slayer would envy "Their bodies convulse in agony and pain/I mangle their faces 'til no features remain".
Bad Omen (4:05)
The opening is almost similar to the previous track, especially the lead guitar work, another Yngwie style workout, coming in nearly the exact same time as the previous track. People often say this is a weak track, but I think it is one of the better ones. It is very fast (the rhythm work in the verse) and nice lead work. Great solo at around the 2:50 mark as well. A fast paced track that lovers of speed metal should like.
I Ain't Superstitious (2:46)
WORST. COVER. EVER. Seriously, thrash bands should not try and cover blues songs, it doesn't work. The only thing this song has going for it is the nice little fillers in the verse, and great soloing throughout the whole song. But, try and steer clear of this track.
My Last Words (4:47)
How can a song about Russian roulette be so **** good" This is a complete speed fest with a killer riff, exceptional at that pace. It begins with an oddly sounding arpeggiated riff, over some nice lead work. It then explodes into the speed metal fest and remains that way for the remainder of the song. Some great soloing from both guitarists make this the best track of the album.
An incredible album. That's all you can really say about it. Not the heaviest album ever, or the fastest, but a gem that every metal fan needs to own. An easy 5/5. If Mustaine's vocals were better, this probably would be held with Reign in Blood and Master of Puppets as thrash's best.