Rust In Peace is the fourth album from thrash-metal giants Megadeth. Since its release in 1990, Rust In Peace is often regarded to be one of the greatest thrash-metal albums of all time, amongst Metallica’s Master Of Puppets and Slayer’s Reign in Blood. Its release heralded a mainstream following for Megadeth and is considered to be one of their greatest albums.
In October, I wrote on Megadeth’s major-label debut, Peace Sells…but Who’s Buying? While I wrote that the album was definitely memorable, it still had its filler that kept Peace Sells from being a masterpiece.
With Rust In Peace, the band’s fourth effort, this is not the case.
All nine tracks on Rust In Peace, in traditional Megadeth fashion, absolutely slaughter the listener with some of the heaviest riffs and solos in thrash-metal history.
One track in particular, “Hangar 18”, is not only the greatest track on the album with its face-melting solos and heavier-than-lead back-half riff, but is perhaps one of the greatest metal tracks ever. After listening to the album multiple times, I keep coming back to “Hangar 18” purely for its unrelenting craft.
Rust In Peace isn’t just about speed, however. The album presents some of Megadeth’s most complex work yet, from tempo changes to progressive riffs. “Poison Was The Cure” a track on the album’s front-half, opens with a sinister bass riff that evolves and churns into the song’s deeper, faster progression.
Much like the musicality, the lyrics within Rust In Peace work with complex themes like the apocalypse, authority, extraterrestrial life, and environmentalism. While some are outright with their spellings of disaster (“Brother will kill brother/Spilling blood across the land” from “Holy Wars…the Punishment Due” is a particularly visual lyric), other songs devote entire halves in which the lyrics give way for the music to tell its own story.
It’s hard for me to find any real fault within Rust In Peace. Sure, some of its songs are slower, but by no means are they bogged down or drawn out. The music in this album is perhaps some of the best thrash-metal I’ve come across – between the heaviness of “Hangar 18”, the grunginess in “Take No Prisoners”, and the all-around complexity that bleeds into the album’s solos and riffs, Rust In Peace proves itself to be unique and daring on all fronts. For lack of sufficient words, Rust In Peace is as metal as metal gets.
Rust In Peace is notable for not only being Megadeth’s defining work, but for shaping the thrash-metal genre as it entered the 1990s.
Cited for its blisteringly fast guitar work and complex instrumentation and tempo changes, the album has been on numerous top lists, including Martin Popoff’s Top 500 Heavy Metal Albums of All Time (at #11) and IGN’s Top 25 Metal Albums (at #4).
The album is also notable for being the first with Megadeth’s stable lineup of frontman Dave Mustaine, bassist David Ellefson, guitarist Marty Friedman and drummer Nick Menza, who passed away in 2016. Though Megadeth is notable for having numerous lineup changes throughout its 30+ year history, the lineup featured on Rust In Peace maintained itself through 1997’s Cryptic Writings before Menza’s departure in 1998.
Mustaine, during the album’s release, spoke of properly following up to the band’s previous releases with their fourth album.
“The only pressure that we had really was in our own heads,” said Mustaine. “Career paranoia is something that everybody deals with if they don't have faith in themselves. So, worrying about having a product that's going to compete with your past is just your own lack of faith. Anybody who doesn't understand what their history is, is destined to repeat it.”
The album would go on to chart at #23 on the Billboard Top 200 and net the band a Grammy nomination for Best Metal Performance.
Megadeth just recently came off of their first Grammy win for Best Metal Performance for Dystopia, the title track from their 2016 album.
For 2017, Mustaine has expressed interest in repeating the “Big Four” tour that brought Metallica, Megadeth, Slayer, and Anthrax together in 2011.
“To have all of the Big Four releasing great new records within 12 months or so, that’s really cool,” said Mustaine. “Now the big question is whether or not the powers-that-be are gonna allow for the four of us to go and do some more Big Four dates.”
Next week’s review: My Chemical Romance’s “I Brought You My Bullets, You Brought Me Your Love”