Review Summary: Were did my head go?
The bitter palpable venomous hatred borne out of a place of resentment for being booted from Metallica in 1983 was a turning point not just for Dave Mustaine, but for the metal world as a whole. I think it goes without saying that the bad blood between Metallica and Megadeth is as infamous as any feud you could think of in the metal world. Granted, it didn't wind up with dead bodies like with Mayhem, nor did it get the intense media coverage like with Pantera, but within the zeitgeist, it was probably one of the most important feuds. It certainly lasted the longest. It wasn't until 2010, almost thirty years later, when The Big Four (Anthrax, Slayer, Metallica and Megadeth) got on stage together for the first time that their relationship started to change for the better.
If Dave hadn't been fired from Metallica back in 1983, safe to say we probably wouldn't have gotten this monster. Killing Is My Business...And Business Is Good! (quite the mouthful, by the way) was released all the way back in 1985, originally on Combat Records. At that time, thrash metal was something of a fledgling genre. Like many well-established genres and sub-genres of rock and metal alike, it took its cues from older, more popular predecessor genres. Hardcore punk from the UK and U.S.A., as well as glam rock/metal, were tantamount to forming the genre we know and love today. Megadeth would come to be a part of "The Big Four," the four bands responsible for popularizing thrash and making it mainstream - we all know who they are - and their chapter began with this legendary album.
It's clear from listening to the opening riff of "Loved to Death" that Mustaine's goal was unabashedly clear: make an album faster, meaner, heavier than anything Metallica would put out. "Last Rites/Loved to Death" is without a doubt the most ferocious track on the entire record. It sets the tone for the rest of the album pretty ***ing quickly. And the rest of the album does not disappoint. From the second track onward, there's no letting up. Mustaine packs tons of awesome, nail biting riffs into each song, each one as memorable as the last. To say Mustaine was pissed off when writing this album is an understatement. This man wanted blood. He was out for blood. Songs like "Rattlehead" and "Mechanix" are definite proof that Mustaine just wanted to destroy everything in his path with all his might.
Of course, he couldn't do it alone. He needed cohorts to help him with his Metallica-conquering ambitions. Without the efforts of David Ellefson, late drummer Gar Samuelson (RIP), and Chris Poland, this album wouldn't pack as much of an impact as it did back in 1985 and still does to this day. A majority of the solo work is manned by Poland and there are solos for days, if I do say so myself. The solo towards the back end of the title track is infectious as hell and blisteringly fast while "Rattlehead" is chock full of fantastic Poland solos that make any lover of thrash metal weep, or bang their head 'till they bleed. That part where he goes up the fretboard with Mustaine at 1:11 of "Rattlehead" is one of my favorite moments in all of metal ever recorded. It's just a small part, but it's so good that it just makes the song that much more rewarding for someone like me who loves harmony and dual guitar leads or solos. Even when there's no solos to sink your teeth into and you're just enjoying the song without them (which kind of defeats the point of the album), the chemistry between the two guitarists here is some of the best.
While this album is insanely fast, it's also surprisingly tight. Granted, it's nowhere near as tight as their later albums would be like Peace Sells...But Who's Buying? or Rust In Peace, but for a debut with a shoestring budget from a new, upcoming band, KIMB is really well put together. It's about as tight as you would expect, however. It's sloppy in a few places, as is expected, but there's not much to complain about given the speed and dexterity of everyone involved in the recording. Like the breakneck opening riff and the frenetic, off the ***ing wall drum work by Gar Samuelson on "Loved to Death" (in fact, all throughout). or the wonderfully varied performance by Samuelson in "Looking Down the Cross," or the skull splitting speedy madness of "Mechanix," or the tireless bass gymnastics of long-standing bassist David Ellefson (listen to that bass solo in "Chosen Ones." Whoo!), this album is held together by the synchronicity of the individual performances all working together like a well-oiled machine.
The '80's were a fantastic period for metal in general, but it was an especially golden decade for thrash and speed metal. Megadeth's legacy stands tall with 35 years running and 15 full-length albums currently released. Mustaine's beloved thrashing death machine has had many adventures on the path to domination. Megadeth proved themselves back in 1985 by releasing one of the fastest and most ferocious albums ever released. 33 years later, it hasn't lost any of its impact or bite. In fact, it's only gotten better with age. The kill is still as potent now as it was back then.
I'm going to bow out and enjoy the *** out of this album in honor of the very first band that got me into metal. Now let's have a toast, throw our horns in the air, and rattle our heads to this classic ***ing album.
RATTLE YOUR GODDAMN HEAD!