Rust In Peace
The Band: Dave Mustaine- Lead vocals, guitar
Marty Friedman- Guitar
David Ellefson- Bass
Nick Menza- Drums
Every genre has albums that define it. Rock has albums like Zeppelin II and Appetite For Destruction. Punk has London Calling. Metal, like most other genres cannot credit one album for defining it. There are many albums that could be considered definitive or groundbreaking in the history of metal, but a few select albums simply have to be mentioned when defining metal. One of these albums has to be Megadeth’s Rust In Peace
. This album has had an immeasurable amount of impact on its genre and considering its damn near violent riffage it’s not hard to understand why, but before I tell you anymore about this album I’d like to get into some of Megadeth’s history. Megadeth’s front man Dave Mustaine
was originally a member of Megadeth’s now rivaled band, Metallica. Mustaine was unfortunately kicked out for alcohol and drug abuse, as well as some conflicting personalities. Not to be discouraged and still having the same drive to play his music Dave quickly began to put together a new band. After a short period of time Dave managed to round up Greg Handevidt (guitarist) and Dave Ellefson (bassist) to form Megadeth
. After searching for a vocalist and finding no one Dave became the bands singer, primary lyricist, main songwriter and rhythm guitarist. Greg left the band in late 1983 to start his own band. Not too long after this happened the band acquired drummer Gar Samuelson and guitarist Kerry King. King was only a temporary guitarist, however. He just played at shows until the band could find a new guitarist. After a few months King was replaced by Chris Poland, who was a friend of Gar Samuelson.
In 1984, Megadeth signed with Combat Records and in May of 1985 they recorded their debut album Killing Is Our Business… And Business Is Good!
They were given eight thousand dollars to record and produce the album. Unfortunately the band ended up wasting half that money of drugs and alcohol. With half the money gone the band was forced to fire their producer and produce the album themselves. Due to this the albums production was rather poor. Regardless of this the album was still well-received by the public. People really enjoyed the fusion of thrash and speed metal, with a hint of punk rock. From this point on Megadeth would continue their success, releasing several other successful albums leading up to Rust In Peace
. They also had a few changes in band members again, as you can see from the list provided at the top of the review.
Now, back to the album details. Some of you may be wondering “What’s this album all about”. Well, shut up and I’ll tell you. While at times it is difficult to get a clear cut message out of the lyrics a few good words to describe them would be as follows: angst, rebellious, fiery etc. etc. Many of the songs seem to be targeted at the government and needless to say in a not so positive manner. Yes, they can be considered “cries out against the establishment”. Not exactly the most original message, but keep in mind it was less overdone at the time. It had still been done before, but it wasn’t the cliché that it is now. Another big part of the lyrics was speaking out against war, as well. Again not the most original message, but wasn’t as overdone at the time. A fitting example of this would be the track Holy Wars… The Punishment Due
. Here’s a small example of the lyrics.
Fools like me, who cross the sea
And come to foreign lands
Ask the sheep, for their beliefs
Do you kill on God's command"
That’s just a small taste of the overall atmosphere of this album. Many of the songs are similar to that in the sense of lyrical message. Some tracks also take an opposite stand to that. Dave sings as if he is the government, mocking their ways and further exemplifying why change is needed. A great example of this is the track Rust In Peace… Polaris
. The song is about a combination of the government and war, as far as I could tell. The song is about a fictional robot named Polaris. The track gives a grotesque image of brutality. I believe the point of this for people to see how the government think when going into war and to show people why that is wrong. I could be wrong, but I can’t think of too many other explanations that make sense, so it’s got to be something along those lines. Anyways, here is a small sample of lyrics from that track.
Tremble you weaklings, cower in fear
I am your ruler land see and air
Immense in my girth, erect I stand tall
I am a nuclear murderer, I am Polaris
To some up this albums vocals, they are by no means original, but they are well thought out and have a good, straightforward message. I was actually surprised upon listening to this album at how well the written the lyrics were. Don’t get me wrong they’re not the greatest lyrics ever to be written, but I had envisioned them as being worse. I guess until today I had underestimated Dave Mustaine’s songwriting abilities.
All things aside, it’s the instrumentals that really make this album. They’re simply flawless from beginning to end. Dave really outdid himself in this one. Let’s start off with the rhythm guitar. The vast majority of it was well written and the riffs/progressions that weren’t quite as well written as the others were played really fast, so you couldn’t tell. The rhythm guitar was also quite progressive for the time period. Which is one of the reasons this album is considered such a milestone in metal. Dave used just the right blend of power chords and riffs, so that the album didn’t seem too simplistic, but not too fancy at the same time. There was also the occasional clean toned riff. Usually only lasting a mere few seconds before being covered up by mounds of distortion, but regardless of length they still added to the album. The solos, like the rhythm guitar were stupendous. Mr. Mustaine certainly knows his scales. I must admit after listening to the solos frequent fretting I was damn near in awe. The subtle combinations of scales and huge bends in between them was ravishing. Not all solos followed that exact pattern, but most were something along those lines. I also must compliment the guitars tone. People usually don’t put too much emphasis one tone, but it is key. Say for example you have to much gain, that could make some notes blend together. Dave had his gain in just the right position so that the riffs, progressions and solos seemed distorted as hell, but not so distorted that notes blended together. The bass, while not playing a monumental role in the album was still phenomenal. It played the guitar root notes a little more than I usually like to see, but do to the fast pace of the guitar the bass still seemed great. There were also times were the bass veered off into uncharted territories and played it’s own riffs, though not that often. Unfortunately the bass didn’t have too many standout moments either. There were times when you could hear it well, but main focus was still on the guitar. Oh well, the slight lack of bass didn’t effect this albums score in the least. The drums were splendid, also. Not quite as well done as the bass and the guitar, but still marvelous. There were lots of simple beats, but they were countered with constant fills and roll beats. I noticed that Menza is a very precise drummer, actually. I’ve seen a few live shows he played and haven’t seen him make any mistakes. Unfortunately for him, just not making mistakes wasn’t enough to really get noticed in this album, but he did do a great job. All in all this albums instrumentals are just tremendous.
Now, I know what most of you are thinking “Damn, this albums on its way to a 5”. Well you’re wrong. Everything I’ve mentioned thus far has been flawless but there’s one thing I haven’t mentioned yet. The vocals! To be frank I didn’t care for them at all. Prior to getting this album I’d been listening “Countdown To Extinction” and Dave’s vocals were beginning to grow on me. Since this album is only one album prior to CTE I expected the vocals to be about the same. I was wrong. The vocals in this album are more whiny and out of key. Even the back up vocals bothered me, actually. I can see how some people may enjoy Mustaine’s voice, but it just doesn’t do it for me. It especially annoys me when he hold notes for longer than one and a half seconds. His voice just sort of shrieks, but like a low pitched shriek. It just doesn’t work for him. Iron Maiden can pull it off, sure, but not Megadeth. That being said the vocals don’t effect this album too much, but they definitely keep me from listening to it as often as other classic metal albums like Powerslave and Master Of Puppets.
Pros: Perfect instrumentation
Pretty well produced
Lots of impact on genre
Overall Rating: 4.5/5
- Dave came up with the name for this album when driving home from skydiving. He was driving behind a car that had a bumper sticker that said “May all your nuclear weapons Rust In Peace
”. He also admitted to speeding at the time.