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Rust in Peace

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  • Megadeth has always seemed to exist in the shadow of Metallica, which is ironic as I’ve always considered Megadeth to be the far superior band. Megadeth guitarist/singer and leader Dave Mustaine was also a founding member of Metallica before being unceramoniously given the boot in early 1983 due to his ego and substance abuse.

    The fact that he started Megadeth in 1984 purely out of hatred and jealousy of his former bandmates in Metallica ended up sort of causing Megadeth to never really get the true respect that Dave and his ever changing roster of co-horts deserved. It seems that every time that Megadeth has come out with a new studio album, Dave is accused of mearly copying Metallica’s sonic strategies and supposedly even ripping off some of Metallica’s riffs. People seem to forget that Metallica kept using Dave’s musical ideas all the way through 1986’s Master of Puppets (in some cases giving him proper songwriting credits, in other cases not giving him his due credit).

    In my eyes, Megadeth (and Dave Mustaine in particular) have always had the better songwriting capabilities and a better sense of what truly makes a great song in comparison to Metallica. Megadeth also gradually evolved their sound over the years without resorting to pulling a jarring 180 on their fans like Metallica did so arrogantly about 8 years back with their terrible album Load (some might say they turned their backs with 1991’s self-titled release or “The Black Album” as it’s commonly referred to, but I thought that album balanced their sound out nicely.) Granted, Megadeth’s 1999 album Risk is considered a sell out by most people, but I really feel that in most cases it was a continuation of the direction they went in on their last album 1997’s Cryptic Writings.

    But I digress.

    Megadeth has realeased quite a few great albums over the years, but none have ever quite had the impact or lasting quality that 1990’s Rust In Peace has had. Almost every truly great band has at the very least that one quintessential album that is pretty much the only one that someone would really need to buy in order to get the best overview of that band’s achievments. While I personally like Cryptic Writings the best, there’s no denying that Rust In Peace will always be looked back on as Megadeth’s finest hour.

    It was on this album that singer/guitarist Dave Mustaine and bassist Dave Ellefson (who besides Mustaine is the only original member) were clear of any substance abuse problems thanks to extensive re-hab for both of them. It also represented them hooking up with drummer Nick Menza and guitarist Marty Friedman. Lots of Megadeth fans consider this lineup to be the “golden” lineup and they are right. Dave actually managed to keep this lineup together for 4 studio albums and those albums represent the best that Megadeth has had to offer.

    Rust In Peace is a truly legendary metal album that deserves it’s status as an album that was truly ahead of it’s time. Something just clicked on this album like it hadn’t prior or since then. From the get-go, the listener is treated to a barrage of insane metal riffing that is almost progressive in nature at times due to the constant change-ups in tempo and rhythm. But the complexity of the album isn’t just done for complexity’s sake. The songwriting is extremely smart and the parts flow into each other like sugar in coffee. This is a virtual textbook for anyone wanting to learn metal rhythm guitar. The drum work is also stellar along with Ellefson’s stupendous bass work. He is truly one of the most underrated metal bass players of all time IMO.

    This album is also celebrated by guitarists the world over due to the insane amount of amazing guitar solos that are present throughout the album. Marty and Dave Mustaine seemed intent on trying to one-up each other in terms of soloing but it was all in the spirit of making the best album possible so even that spirited competition added to the album’s greatness.

    The original release consisted of 9 stupendous tracks and lasted around 40 minutes in length.

    The original track listing was:
    1) Holy Wars/The Punishment Due
    2) Hangar 18
    3) Take No Prisoners
    4) Five Magics
    5) Poison Was the Cure
    6) Lucretia
    7) Tornado of Souls 8) Dawn Patrol
    9) Rust in Peace/Polaris.

    All of these songs are pretty much viewed as classics in the overall Megadeth repertoire. This album just grabs you by the throat from the start and doesn’t let up. Since there are so many other reviews already that go into details of these tracks, I’ll just try to focus on how I feel this re-mastered CD stacks up to the original release.

    In early 2004, it was announced that Dave Mustaine was in the process of re-mixing and re-mastering the entire Capitol records catalog of Megadeth releases to be released on July 27th.

    Rust In Peace is one of the re-releases that benefits the most from the re-mastering and re-mixing. Everything sounds much brighter and punchier. The drums now sound like thunder and the bass growls and rumbles like it never quite did on the original release. In fact, I’ve noticed things on this album that I didn’t before due to how crystal clear and open everything now sounds.

    All of the re-relased CD’s also contain bonus tracks in the form of alternate mixes in some cases and in the case of Rust in Peace you get extra tracks in the form of:

    10) My Creation (previously unreleased)
    11) Rust in Peace/Polaris (demo version)
    12) Holy Wars/The Punishment Due (demo version)
    13) Take No Prisoners (demo version).

    The sound quality on these bonus tracks are actually quite good and I’ve always liked hearing demo versions of songs just to hear how a song evolved to the point of the final recording. The new song My Creation is kind of short but is pretty cool in its own right.

    Now onto the one aspect of this album’s particular re-mastering that has a lot of purists and hardcore fans up in arms.

    It turns out that when Dave Mustaine got all of the original master tapes for the Rust in Peace album together, he found out to his dismay that that original vocal tracks for the songs Take No Prisoners and 5 Magics had vanished. [EDIT: user Megasoul actually found this out about the track 5 Magics. "Just wanna point out that the webmaster at [...] stated that “Five Magics” was NOT re-recorded (which means that Dave must have used alternate vocal takes from 1990 on the re-issue).]

    So he had no choice but to re-record new vocals for these 2 tracks. Some people are overreacting and are claiming that he did this to more than just these 2 tracks, but these are the facts from Dave Mustaine himself in a few interviews.

    So are the new vocals that noticeable or do they just flat out suck in comparison to the original? Well, if you are as big of a fan of the original album for as long as I’ve been, you will notice the new tracks. I think that Dave did a great job with the new vocals and they are in the exact same style and spirit as the old vocal tracks were. He really had no choice but to re-record new vocals so I don’t think he should be faulted for that. It is a little bit jarring at first, but with subsequent listening, I’ve grown quite accustomed to the new vocal tracks already.

    All of the other tracks throughout the album have been untouched so the purists can calm down a bit.

    The CD also features all new liner notes by Dave himself as well as all the lyrics in addition to vintage photos from that period in the band’s existence.

    Rust in Peace is a true metal classic that everyone interested in the genre should own. This new re-mastered CD of the album makes it sound better than it ever has and the sound is improved enough to warrant picking up this new version of the album. While the re-recorded vocal tracks on the 2 previously mentioned tunes might take a little bit getting used to, I don’t think that they butcher the songs like a lot of other people are complaining that they do. But I guess it’s up to everyone to decide that for themselves.

    Posted on January 11, 2010