2015-11-21

Album Review: Megadeth - Rust In Peace (2004 Remaster)

Photo courtesy Wikipedia.org

Although this is a pretty old album, and the expectation is that I will compare the remastered mixes to the integrity of the original release, I think that is a low-value album review, and something that would only appeal to a very small number of hard-core Megadeth fans. I wouldn't be qualified to write such a review, anyway, since I never owned the original version of the album.

Fortunately or unfortunately, you'll have to make do with a more straight-forward review of this album. The reader must keep in mind, however, that although I am a long-time Megadeth fan, I can't be considered a true, hardcore fan. Nor am I as attuned to the metal genre as others might be. You're getting a Stationary Waves review of the album here, not a metal-insider's review.

Rust In Peace begins with a hard-hitting classic of the oeuvre, "Holy Wars... The Punishment Due." This is a classic for many reasons, but what makes it a classic to me is its position as an archetypal Megadeth song. The opening riffage is absolutely brutal, then suddenly breaks long enough for Marty Friedman to blast his way through a surprisingly tender nylon-string guitar solo. When he finishes, the song unfolds in the way of a true Megadeth masterpiece: with a complex barrage of ever-changing metal riffs and melodies that are at once unified and diverse.

See, the great thing about Megadeth has always been the intelligence of the songs. They don't mind getting complex, they don't mind straying far off the verse/chorus/verse/chorus/bridge/chorus song format. What they have to say, they'll say in whatever way required to get the message across.

So Rust In Peace, like its deadly opening track is a thrash-metal classic, a Megadeth classic, and - as we would come to discover over the years - features the classic Megadeth lineup of Dave Mustaine, David Ellefson, Marty Friedman, and Nick Menza. As great as prior and subsequent incarnations of the band may have been, this is the lineup that gave us all the classic songs: "Holy Wars...," "Hangar 18," "Lucretia," "Tornado Of Souls," "Symphony of Destruction," "Train of Consequences..."

Nor is it any coincidence that so many of these classic Megadeth songs appear on Rust In Peace. For me, this is almost a debut album, an album when Megadeth "finally became a band." It is less-refined than the follow-up, Countdown to Extinction, but has so much more clarity of vision than preceding albums.

As far as it goes, it's everything you can expect from that sort of a "debut." The songs are heavy, ambitious, technical, passionate. Still, they're youthful and a little hasty. The production quality is raw, even in the remasters. The classic Megadeth "weaknesses," are also on full display, such as Mustaine's often-juvenile lyrics ("Five Magics" is a case in point here).

Still, not much negative can be said for this, one of heavy metal's most iconic and enduring albums. This is one that even casual metal fans must own.