Thursday, 21 January 2010

Megadeth 'Rust In Peace' (1990)

Well, this has been a long time coming. You can find this on a thousand blogs with the click of the mouse, but if I'm to share my favourites then it would be dishonest to omit Rust In Peace.

RIP is considered to be the album where Dave Mustaine truly got his revenge on ex-bandmates Metallica, by producing an album that was faster, more complex and more political than anything they could ever manage. It is also inarguably the apex of thrash metal (a California-born meeting of punk rock and heavy metal of the early 80s) and contender for the greatest metal album of all time, in any subgenre.
To the uninitiated - i.e. those who have no interest in 'The Metal' - this may well just be the same old noise, but I defy you to test it and not appreciate the musicianship and compositional skill involved.
I've never been a metalhead per se, but I find extreme metal subgenres therapeutic, thrash metal in particular has the speed and density, and is the primary language of the headbanger. In the 80s this was the perfect antithesis to dumb/hedonistic, poodle-haired AM metal... although as you can see above, painful trousers and effeminate coiffures remained.
Neither have I ever been one for instrumental virtuosity and guitar histrionics for the sake of it, which makes my appreciation of this album all the more special.
The thick-and-fast solos of dual guitarists Marty Friedman and songwriter/frontman Mustaine on Rust are never tedious; it's as if they agonised over every note. It's incredibly progressive, with time and key changes that leave you reeling - for a classic example see what happens around 2:48 on 'Hangar 18'. 'Holy Wars' is a breakneck suite and two-pronged reflection on religious fanaticism and crusades - the sort of track that may have happened had old prog guard been born in time for the hardcore punk movement and the First Gulf War!

... And I will hold up my hands and admit that some of the lyrics here are f*cking awesome. There are the occasional, obligatory/corny ones about wizards or Satanism; but this is thrash metal so the main points of order are grinning fascists, government wars, obliteration, conspiracy, social control, religion - nothing that far removed from reality, really.
I always thought the intentions of the 'Big Four' bands of thrash (Anthrax, Megadeth, Metallica and Slayer) were sound; taking a firm anti-war stance and calling out hypocrisy and corruption - albeit in a ham-fisted manner - and often extending this into the realms of farce for our tongue-in-cheek enjoyment.

Classic interview

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