Peace Sells…but Who’s Buying? is the contentious second album from thrash-metal band Megadeth. Their major-label debut, it set the scene for a mainstream breakthrough for the band as they began to lay the foundation for the thrash-metal scene. But what is it about Peace Sells that stood out among the greats to lay that brickwork down?
For an album that promises sheer and utter description with its apocalyptic album cover, Peace Sells surely delivers.
Right from the get-go, we’re treated with stupidly fast, yet traditional 80s thrash rifts reminiscent of the album’s rivals at the time; Metallica’s Master Of Puppets and Slayer’s Reign In Blood were also released in 1986. Yet Peace Sells manages to sound perfectly distinct from the aforementioned works – the bass feels heavier (sorry, Cliff Burton), the guitars are whinier, and the vocals, though subpar to other works of the era, feel uniquely styled to Dave Mustaine’s writing style. With some songs taking on spoken word bits while also blending in traditional thrash metal, tracks like Wake Up Dead and Peace Sells feel experimental, yet well worth the payoff.
Yet starting off the opening track, Wake Up Dead, with spoken word feels a tad jarring. While the song breaks down into a headbanger of a riff toward the song’s final act, songs tend to shift too often and too suddenly to feel cohesive or impactful. Bits of however – namely, the final breakdowns in the opening track as well as Good Mourning/Black Friday stand out as some of the album’s most kickass moments.
Does the album have its filler? Absolutely. Devil’s Island, in particular, doesn’t feel righteous among its fellow Peace Sells tracks, not to mention its similarity in vocal stylings. But, overall, Peace Sells, from the perspective of a new Megadeth fan, can stand pretty comfortably as a memorable piece of work with definite replay value.
Though Peace Sells was only the band’s second full-length album, it would go on to launch Megadeth into success both within the thrash metal scene as well as in the mainstream.
Peace Sells launched in 1986 alongside Metallica’s Master of Puppets and Slayer’s Reign in Blood, and all albums would go on to make a significant impact on the thrash metal era. These three albums helped to bring the genre out of the underground and would go on to help launch the bands into mainstream success; Megadeth would soon find worldwide prominence with 1990’s Rust In Peace.
The album would go on to be certified Platinum by the RIAA and charted at #76 on the Billboard 200. Though not a hot performance compared to artists of the day, for a barely-known genre it represented a major victory in bringing thrash metal to the public light.
While some songs off the album are still live staples today, such as Wake Up Dead or Peace Sells, some songs off the album haven’t been played live in several years due to Mustaine’s change in lifestyle. “being a dad, being a responsible person, being a musician who has influenced a lot of lives very positively,” Mustaine said. “I look at it and think ‘I don’t know if I would play that live.’”
Megadeth’s latest album, Dystopia, released in January of 2016. The current lineup features Dave Mustaine on vocals/rhythm guitar, longtime bassist David Ellefson, lead guitarist Kiko Loureiro, and drummer Dirk Verbeuren. Currently, the band is touring the United States in support of the album.
Dystopia, the band’s fifteenth full-length album, was released to mostly positive reviews, and was cited as a return to form after the mixed reactions to their 2013 album, Super Collider.
Next week’s review: Box Car Racer’s “Box Car Racer”