October 11, 2008

CD Review: Megadeth - Anthology: Set the World Afire

The first question that should be on the lips of any Megadeth fan is: "Do I need this set?" The answer will invariably come back: "No, probably not." There really isn't anything here that hasn't been done before. The two-disk, thirty-five track compilation only contains two previously unreleased tracks, and one of those was released in countries other than the US. All this means is that if you are a Megadeth fan and have all the albums, you already have everything here, and you likely have tracked down the one unreleased in the US track. Still, despite the repetition of tunes, there is a lot to like, especially if you are a non-fan and curious. If you are a fan, feel free to skip the rest of this as you don't really need this set.

Over the past near decade there have been a few Megadeth collections. Something that is common for an act that has been around for nearly a quarter century (although, I have to wonder when Metallica sets will start appearing). The first one was back in 2000, a release that I believe was used to finish off Megadeth's deal with Capitol Records, as the next album of new material appeared on Sanctuary Records. That album was called Capitol Punishment: The Megadeth Years, it was a single disk release that featured two new tracks and a hidden track of Megadeth snips that sounded like someone tuning around a radio dial (never could figure out the purpose of it).

Next up was a 2005 release called Greatest Hits: Back to the Start, also from Capitol Records. The track list here was compiled by online voting through the official Megadeth site, culled from the Capitol recordings. There was some crossover between this release and the first collection. Still, neither is a definitive collection of the mighty Megadeth.

megadeth9ajThe third set upped the ante considerably. It was more than a mere greatest hits collection, it was a career spanning behemoth of a set called, appropriately enough, Warchest. This is likely the most comprehensive collection of the Capitol recordings that you are likely to find without buying all of the albums and tracking down rarities. It is four CDs worth of music, the first three containing all of their best tracks along with a few demos and live cuts, the fourth disk is a complete concert recorded in 1990. There is also a fifth disk, a DVD containing a full concert from 1992. Everything was remastered and personally chosen by Mustaine.

That brings us to Set the World Afire. Yet another set focused on the Capitol years, meaning you will not here more recent hits like "Moto Psycho," Return to Hanger," "Die Dead Enough," "Kick the Chair," or anything from the excellent United Abominations. You will get the most affordable and complete collection this side of Warchest.

If you are a newcomer to the band, looking for a place to start, this would be perfect for you. The set runs nearly chronologically, beginning with "Mechanix" from Killing is My Business... And Business is Good from 1985 and running through to "Dread and the Fugitive Mind," which first appeared on Capitol Punishment from 2000.

There is absolutely no denying that there is a ton of great music here, and you will find yourself coming back to it over and over again. Not to mention you will be heading out to get the full albums to hear the cuts not included.

I have always liked compilations to check out bands I am interested in. They offer a relatively safe way to check out the careers of artists you may or may not like without a big investment. While not all of them are useful to me, mainly for artists who I got into early on, some are very beneficial (I started listening to Johnny Cash this way, now I love the Man in Black). This set is not all that big a deal directly to me, but it can be a great way to help expand their fanbase to a younger audience curious for some classic metal.

Bottomline. Interested in 'deth? Have you heard the newer albums and are curious about the younger years? This is the perfect place to start.



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