July 5, 2015

The Ranker: Megadeth

I am not sure why, but the other day I got in my head that I should rank Megadeth’s albums. Not all of them, just the studio albums. They are the most prolific of the so-called “Big Four” with 14 studio albums (they also have four live albums and a couple greatest hits type packages). The next most prolific is Slayer, who are about to release their twelfth album, then Anthrax with ten, and lastly Metallica with nine. Megadeth does have their fifteenth release coming in the not too distant future. In any case, I really like the band and their consistency of releasing records, despite the revolving door of musicians.

I find it pretty interesting in how you look at their releases and you can see a defining line between career halves. At least when I look at how they shook out for me, you can see where things began to change. The band gets a little older, all their best writing appears to be in the rearview mirror, and they don’t have quite the same feel. I think every record is worth listening to, but when it comes to the ones I am going to reach for first time and time again, it is pretty clear what I want to listen to most.

So, let’s take a look at how the list shook out.

14. Supercollider (2013). Dave Mustaine, David Ellefson, Chris Broderick, Shawn Drover. Their most recent is my least favorite. It starts off pretty good with “Kingmaker,” but quickly devolves into mediocrity. Overall, it is a pretty dull record. I do want to give a little notice to the weird tune “The Blackest Crow,” an oddity with some bluegrass banjo. I kind of like it in a strange way. Still, not much to really get into here.

13. United Abominations (2007). Dave Mustaine, James Lomenzo, Glen Drover, Shawn Drover. This was the debut for this lineup and the album just does not feel all that inspired. I am also not much of a fan of the on the nose politically themed lyrics or the voice over stuff like that on the title track.

12. The System has Failed (2004). Dave Mustaine, Jimmy Lee Sloas, Chris Poland, Vinnie Colaiuta. This was the first album released after the band’s disbanding in 2002 when Mustaine suffered an arm injury that left him unable to play. It is interesting to note that this was originally meant as a Mustaine solo album but became a Megadeth album to fulfill contractual obligations. It is interesting to see the return of Chris Poland who served as the lead guitarist, recording with Mustaine for the first time since 1986. Still, while listenable, this did not do a lot for me.

11. Risk (1999). Dave Mustaine, David Ellefson, Marty Friedman, Jimmy Degrasso. The last album with Marty Friedman on guitar. I still have some affection for this release, but it is also the “risk” they took at trying for radio rock airplay. The most notable cut is the anthemic “Crush’em” which, while catchy, seems like they were trying a touch too hard. To its credit, “Breadline” is a decent tune.

10. Endgame (2009). Dave Mustaine, James Lomenzo, Chris Broderick, Shawn Drover. This record has some nice old school aggression and feels somewhat inspired (especially when looked at against the records I rank lower). This was the first album with guitarist Chris Broderick (ex-Nevermore). There is some nice old school riffs and the record seems to bridge the gap between Megadeth of the present and classic era ‘Deth.

9. Th1rt3en (2011). Dave Mustaine, David Ellefson, Chris Broderick, Shawn Drover. The cleverly titled 13th album sees the return of original member David Ellefson on bass. It is good to hear him back with the band as his absence really changed the sound. This album makes the band feel reenergized and has some nice guitar work. Overall, this really is a pretty solid record.

8. So Far, So Good, So What (1988). Dave Mustaine, David Ellefson, Jeff Young, Chuck Behler. I can easily listen to this album, but of the early era stuff, it is my least favorite. I love the energy and “In My Darkest Hour” is a great song, but overall, it never seems to catch stride for me. Still, solid enough to land in the middle of the pack.

7. Cryptic Writings (1997). Dave Mustaine, David Ellefson, Marty Friedman, Nick Menza. This was the last album to feature the lineup that debuted with Rust in Peace in 1990. Somehow, this album is often forgotten about, but when I go back to listen to it, it is a solid release that plays well as the third act of a bit more accessible cycle that began with Countdown to Extinction and was buried with Risk. There is a blend of accessible rock and older styled thrash elements mixed throughout. Try not to forget about it.

6. The World Needs a Hero (2001). Dave Mustaine, David Ellefson, Al Pitrelli, Jimmy Degrasso. This record is a return to roots after they failed with Risk. It has a feel similar to the material from the mid-90s.It is fun, thrashy, has some good songs, and a sequel to one of their classics. They take us back to “Hanger 18” with “Return to Hanger.”

5. Killing is My Business and Business is Good (1985). Dave Mustaine, David Ellefson, Chris Poland, Gar Samuelson. For a long time I had trouble getting into this one. Then the remastered release came out and everything clicked. Their debut was not mixed well and it just sounded sloppy to me. This really is a good album and has some great thrash on it. If you like metal and this doesn’t get you going, there may be no hope left.

4. Youthanasia (1994). Dave Mustaine, David Ellefson, Marty Friedman, Nick Menza. This is just one of those albums that got a lot of play. It came during a key time in musical development. This may not be the outright thrash of their early releases, but there is no denying the quality here. It is infectious and has some great riffs.

3. Countdown to Extinction (1992). Dave Mustaine, David Ellefson, Marty Friedman, Nick Menza. This came at just the right time for me and kicked off a new era for Megadeth as they found some mainstream traction on the heels of Metallica’s breakthrough. This is a really good album, plenty of riffs and sees Mustaine in fine form. I find it difficult to turn this one off.

2. Peace Sells, but Who's Buying? (1986). Dave Mustaine, David Ellefson, Chris Poland, Gar Samuelson. Megadeth’s sophomore release is the stuff of legends. WIld, raw, uninhibited, this is thrash metal royalty. No, I am not the most knowledgeable of all thing thrash or all things metal, but I think you would be hard pressed to find someone not agreeing with the greatness here. I remember the video for “Wake Up Dead,” with the band playing in a cage with fans breaking through. Horns up my metal brothers!

1. Rust in Peace (1990). Dave Mustaine, David Ellefson, Marty Friedman, Nick Menza. There is nothing that can knock this one out of the top spot. This is A-grade material from start to finish some great head banging riffs, technical solos, aggression, variety. Just…. wow. This was the debut album for the best lineup the band ever had. I really wish I had gotten to see them live during this era. There is not a bad tune in the lot.

That about wraps it up. Megadeth is not my favorite band, but they have a lot of stuff that I love, especially among the top five releases. I am sure you can also see the band’s transitions in how they rank from the early greatness through through the crossover releases of the middle albums, then how they have tailed off in recent years.

I am very curious to hear their next record, especially with Lamb of God’s Chris Adler on drums and the guitar player from Angra joining in.

Related Posts with Thumbnails


Post a Comment