With the release of Megadeth’s fifteenth studio album ‘Dystopia’ I was charged with the task of flexing my writing muscles on a “Starter Pack” piece for Already Heard as a kind of introduction for the uninitiated. As such, I spent many a waking hour with Mustaine and Co blasting through my headphones at breakneck speed as I explored their ample back catalogue; I must have listened to pretty much everything they have ever done! Although Dave’s work is consistently high quality, even some of the newer releases boasting hidden gems, Dystopia itself also being pretty damn good, there are a handful of songs which stand head and shoulders above the rest. So here goes my take on a Megadeth top ten, buckle up!
10) Good Mourning/Black Friday
Not really the first song that springs to mind, but recent listens to ‘Peace Sells…’ revealed it to be one of their finest tracks. The atmospheric intro and sinister guitar lines to ‘Good Mourning’ was something nobody else was doing at the time. The song gathers in brooding atmosphere, taking its time, before exploding into life with a blistering solo. ‘Black Friday’ then rocks to a mid paced groove and engine like riffing, before accellerating for a ball busting race to the end. Breathtaking.
9) Hook In Mouth
One of Megadeth’s most underrated tracks from an album many overlook. ‘Hook In Mouth’ deals with the issue of censorship and the moralistic stance of the PMRC (the reason we have those parental advisory stickers). It is a more measured track, but is a prime example of Mustaine’s songwriting prowess with its intelligent lyrics and top drawer arrangement.
8)Rust In Peace…Polaris
Only Megadeth do this – the two part song thing I mean – and ‘Rust’ is one of their finest examples. It puts the icing on the cake of their best album, Mustaine putting in one of his most vicious vocal performances on this politically charged track, whilst also delivering a killer hook. Just when you think it’s done the second part kicks off and basically it’s a guitar frenzy as solos blaze and riffs chop and change, while Nick Menza provides the groove.
7)Countdown to Extinction
As a whole, the ‘Countdown’ album lacks the teeth of earlier releases, yet it showcases the bands highly developed songwriting skills; the title track itself being one of its standout songs. The whole thing is highly accomplished, from the riffing being expressive of the lyrical matter, past the killer chorus and on to the hot rocking solo – it has everything a top rock song needs. Not surprising that it won awards.
6)Tornado of Souls
After the first two killer tracks on the R.I.P album some of the other songs pale in comparison to their monumental attack. However, ‘Tornado of Souls’ is similarly special and is surely one of the most complete Megadeth numbers. This is a guitar player’s song; the wonderfully complex arrangement layering riff upon riff, whilst giving Marty Friedman free reign on a raging solo. The rhythm work is also superb and Dave even manages a hint of melody to the hook; quality.
The first Megadeth track to show off Mustaine’s ability to write a hit. Killer bass line, killer hook, frantic thrash finale. “Can you put a price on peace?”
The partner in crime to Holy Wars; you can’t hear one without the other following. Hangar is the ultimate conspiracy theory and one of the band’s finest moments.
3)Foreclosure of a Dream
Normally when people talk about ‘Countdown to Extinction’ they remember the title track, ‘Symphony of Destruction’ or ‘Sweating Bullets’, but for me Foreclose is untouchable. It’s got everything that epitomizes Megadeth, from the riffing to the solos but also has a killer hook – seriously underrated song.
2)In My Darkest Hour
Famously written in one hour, upon hearing of the death of ex-band mate, Metallica’s Cliff Burton, ‘In My Darkest Hour’ is a monster of a song. It broods intensely on the back of grinding riffs as Mustaine spits his bitter lyrics, before exploding into a thrashing finale, love it.
1)Holy Wars…The Punishment Due
‘Holy Wars’ is without question one of the greatest rock songs in history. It has everything: Powerhouse riffing, scorching solos, sublime time changes, politically charged lyrics and a level of technical excellence beyond compare; thrash metal perfection goddammit.
If you haven’t already done so, check out the new material on ‘Dystopia’, it has some fine moments that stand up in comparison to the tracks on display here; ‘Fatal Illusion’ being particularly special.
Here’s the link to the starter pack piece mentioned above: http://alreadyheard.com/post/137748764480/starter-pack-megadeth
And here’s a review of ‘Dystopia’: