Review Summary: Dave pushes it to full throttle but ends up making a 50 minute exercise in cheese instead.
Megadeth is not a band to quarrel with. The mark they have made on the music industry is gaping and undeniable and their fanbase is universally known for being one of the internet's most grating, but they have good reason. Megadeth shred and they shred hard. Not many bands can keep up with Dave's lightning fast speed and technicality, a trait which has become recognizable at upon first octave. Even Metallica, the band that Mustaine derives all of his musical rage and decisions from, can only maintain the robustly distinct power Megadeth has welded on a few select albums, but it's just that; Metallica and Megadeth are known for butting heads, but in all actuality it was Megadeth butting Metallica's back and bouncing off into a pile of underground filth. Every direction Dave took with his band was because Metallica did it and got popular from it. Metallica release a thrashy bucanistic debut strictly about metal and partying, Megadeth release Killing Is My Business. Metallica slow down and focus more on epic songwriting and catchy hooks, Megadeth slow down and make Peace Sells. Metallica apply mainstream qualities to their music, Megadeth does the same and titles it Symphony Of Destruction. Metallica goes full on hard rock, Megadeth shamelessly follows in suit with Risk. Metallica's Master Of Puppets was a titanic success with both critics and, in some respects, the charts, and their fourth effort ...And Justice For All applied progressive and technical elements to their music and received even more praise, peaking at #6 in the charts and getting a Grammy nomination. Dave Mustaine's counterpart, So Far So Good So What, was not as successful as Master Of Puppets despite having very similar qualities, and I believe this truly angered him. Why was his music not being as sold even though it's the exact same? For the next album, Dave had to be faster, heavier, more progressive, more technical, the solos had to be more mind blowing, the vocals had to be more insane, the songwriting had to be more precise. Instead, this seems to have ricocheted back in his face.
This album shreds with an insane blaze of fiery solos and riffs flying about, but when is enough? The album quickly becomes an exercise in goofy and cheesy songwriting straight out of 80's movie with the protagonist in a fictitious heavy metal group. Rust In Peace is, in theory, Wyld Stallyn's magnum opus.
The album immediately begins strong with an undeniable metal classic. The main riff is extremely catchy and, while the lyrics are nothing out of the ordinary from Dave, his vocals are the most competent they've ever been. The bridge is excellent and neoteric, although the random sitar solo is comes out of nowhere and does not even remotely fit the tone of the song, and Marty Friedman's solo defies all before-known knowledge on delivering solos. It's superb, but it's the only song worth giving above a 4.5/5 to. The rest goes downhill from here.
Track two also starts strong with several sterling heavy riffs but this is where problems become noticeable. Solos. Good God, the solos. The first half of the track comprises of some of 90's thrashes best riffs and the transition from the first solo to verse two is orgasmic. Unfortunately the awesome chauce only takes up half of this five minute track. Once the solos stop, they never stop. Marty Friedman shreds away, and you say "wow, that was awesome! Okay, what's the next song?" but no, the track continues with another solo. Repeat this six times. Everytime the listener thinks the track will cease, they think to themselves "okay, there can't POSSIBLY be another damn guitar solo, right?" another list of shredding hammer-ons assaults the ears. It almost becomes laughable, but once one realizes the entire record suffers from this fault, there will be no laughter left.
Marty Friedman has a celestial ability to shred and there's no doubt as to why he was selected to take lead guitar responsibilities on Rust In Peace, but Dave lent him far more leeway than he needed. A fantastic song doesn't need 15 guitar solos to be great, something Dave and Marty seemed to forget with Megadeth's fourth. Tracks like "Five Magics" and "Lucretia" are nothing more than gloating from Marty's part, only written to make prepubescent boys experience metal erections so they can air guitar in their rooms in the evening as their mom calls them down for supper. Even the highly regarded "Tornado Of Souls" has a solo with no soul or no actual emotion to it. Take Metallica's "Ride The Lightning" solo which is slower at parts but has far more emotion and has inspired poets and started war among nations. "Tornado Of Souls" comprises of nothing but lightning fast notes, which admittedly is 'pretty cool', in the same way that watching a Godzilla monster battle is 'pretty cool', but watching something focused and artistic like Agguire: The Wrath Of God or The Cabinet Of Dr Caligari, is like the rose petal in the garden of knowledge. Yes, watching mindless explosions among two guys in rubber costumes beating each other half to death is amusing and even addicting, watching a galvanized classical film with evident thought and patience put into the production makes the experience makes the viewer feel smarter, even accomplished.
Although Marty's overblown amount of guitar solos sets the ball of cheese rolling down the hill, it isn't the only pushing force. Dave's vocals, despite being the best in his career, still suffer from his sheer inability to sing. This forces him to exaggerate his growls in a silly manner that makes him come off more as a Saturday Night Live parody than an actual metal band vocalist. Take "Rust In Peace...Polaris" for example in the second verse, Dave sings "Bomb shelters filled to the brim, Survival such a silly whim” in a lower tone, almost a sarcastic and cynical tone of voice which sounds less serious and more of a joke. He even chuckles while saying the world “survival” to add on to level of corny and questionable vocalization. In “Five Magics” I suppose Dave realized his nasally chess club president voice did not sound macho enough and so a goofy deepened filter is placed over it, making him sound like a kid who just discovered the pitch changing feature on Audacity and is having a field day. Even Dave using this laughable effect once would be eyebrow raising and chuckleworthy, but Dave uses it for an entire verse. Even the backing vocals in the verses of “Take No Prisoners” sound cartoony and laughable, though I’m not sure if it is Dave this time.
Tracks like “Dawn Patrol,” “Poison Was The Cure,” and “My Creation” are utterly pointless filler and drag the momentum of the album. “Dawn Patrol” has an admittedly awesome bass riff that could’ve and should’ve been used as the bridge riff to a full song, but it is instead converted into a not even two minute track of pointlessness. Dave’s vocals and lyrics are unusually bad here, as he speaks with a lower croaky register, and instead of “our nervous systems” he questionably decides to say “our ner-ner-ner-ner-ner-ner-vous-vous-vous” and finishes the verse with a random “check?” Check what, Dave? To flush the toilet of stupidity, Dave ends the song by squeaking into the microphone like a hungry mouse. Okay fanboys, explain what brilliant social commentary Dave was saying with his random squeaks. “My Creation” immediately begins with Dave whining “It’s alive!” but because of jovial singing voice, he ends up mispronouncing it as “Eats uh-liiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiv-uh” and yet another pointless 90 second track filled with abysmal vocals ensues. This track serves as the closer for the album, a true shame indeed. “Lucretia” opens up with annoying cackle from an old lady sounding figure that is extremely loud and painful to the ears; not the best way to start a track.
Atop of that, Rust In Peace is usually billed as a progressive thrash metal album when this isn’t even remotely true. The quasi-progressive feel of the riffs give the illusion of time signature changes although the entire album is primarily written almost exclusively in 4/4 or 8/8. The only moments I can think of that aren’t in a 4/4 variation is the riff after the 42nd solo in “Five Magics” which is 7/8 that continues into the chorus, as well as one single bar before the first verse in “Rust In Peace…Polaris” that is in 9/4. …And Justice For All often gets compared to Rust In Peace due to it being called the bands’ delvings into progressive metal, but Metallica’s effort actually is progressive while Megadeth’s is not. Metallica's "Blackened" uses 4/4/, 6/4, 7/4, and 6/8 in that single song alone, and the title track gets even more nuts, utilizing 9/4 and 10/4 more times than 4/4.
Rust In Peace is, by no means at all, a bad album. The instrumentation is mindblowing and inhuman, which is where most of the points come from. Even if these members had been playing for Pat Boone would it be a show to go see. Also, any album with “Holy Wars…The Punishment Due?” on it automatically warrants some positivity. As it is, the album feels more as an exercise in question what’s cool and what’s really cool, almost as if Megadeth asked a survey to a focus grouping, asking “what, do you think, makes metal totally radical?” and the positive answers were computed into musical form. This is a cheesy album. Megadeth’s true opus is Peace Sells…But Who’s Buying for every reason this isn’t, and I’ll defend that until the day someone throws my blue corpse into the firepit and sprinkles my ashes upon the icy tops of Alaska.
Some catchy riffs
So cheesy and laughably silly
Bad vocals from Dave Mustaine
Lots of filler
Neverending guitar solos