Release Year: 1985
Over the years it’s been proven that Megadeth is an enduring band. They have since become one of the Big Four when it comes to metal. They have countless hits that new generations of metal fans are discovering for themselves. And to think it all began as a response to Dave Mustaine getting kicked out of Metallica. They have lots of notable albums, but their debut is still one of their strongest. Fueled by Dave’s fire and guitar skills, the record still sounds exciting and fresh today.
Things start out on the right foot with “Last Rites/Loved to Deth.” It opens with a striking, haunting classical piece that gives it a Gothic setting. The mood is very ominous until the shredding guitars take over. From there, the music grows frantic and chaotic as Mustaine shreds so hard you’d think his hands are on fire. What really stands out in this song were the lyrics. It seems to talk about the death of a loved one, which you don’t find much in metal. Of course the topic grows darker as Mustaine implies he was responsible for her death: “If I can’t have you/Than no one will/And since I won’t/I’ll have to kill.” He continues to sound vicious up until the subtle ending where we find out his lover didn’t make it to heaven after all. It’s a great track that has a cool dynamic between the music and the lyrics.
Another notable song from the album is “Killing is My Business…and Business is Good!” Like most of the music here, it begins with a heavy, chugging rhythm that suddenly gets frantic at a paranoid pace. Mustaine shows off his sinister, conniving side as he talks about being a hitman and loving what he does. The best part comes when he reveals his plans to take the money and kill the employer too. It’s another unique topic the band wasn’t afraid to tackle. “The Skull Beneath the Skin” has a darker tone to the music made downright unsettling thanks to Dave’s howl during the intro. He also shows off his shredding skills as the guitars sound vicious and full of venom. Again, the lyrics are worth looking at because they are so gruesome: “Help me/Prepare the patients scalp/To peel away/Metal caps his ears/He’ll hear not what we say/Solid steel visor/Riveted cross his eyes/Iron staples close his jaws.” Lines like these provide eerie vivid images of the bloody event.
Interestingly enough, the album includes a thrash cover of Nancy Sinatra’s “These Boots Are Made for Walking.” Though the original songwriter didn’t care for it, the band actually does a pretty good job with the song, especially since they know how to make it their own. They give the song some new life and excitement making it more appealing for different generations. A decent song, but the least inspired one is “Rattle Head.” The music here is standard thrash all the way, unlike their later material. This one is about simply banging your head to some kick ass metal, specially to Megadeth. It’s not a bad song, but the least interesting one of the album. The same issue plagues “The Chosen Ones,” which has impressive guitar playing, but little else.
Things take a slightly different turn on “Looking Down the Cross.” A slow, menacing riff introduces the song. This riff gets stronger as it slowly builds up. The music isn’t as crazy here, rather it sounds like someone’s unfortunate damnation. This another track with brutal, violent images in the lyrics, but this time they seem to be describing the crucifixion of Christ: “Down the walkways/Through the blood stained town/Looking down the cross/Bleeding from the crown/Led to stay/To die besides the thieves.” Everything from the dark music to the vivid lyrics paints a bleak and hopeless mood for the listener. On this track, music and lyrics come together perfectly to create the dark, despairing setting to put the listener on edge.
Overall, the album gets 8/10. Almost 30 years later and this debut sounds as vicious as ever. Though not every song is notable, they’re still filled with Mustaine’s guitar skills and knack for songwriting. The gruesome visuals, blazing riffs, and anguished howls all come together to make one brutal album. Megadeth was willing to go where other metal bands didn’t dare to at the time, which made their songs unique. It’s a heavy metal classic that all fans should check out.