Story by Jeff Treppel
Megadeth have written one classic metal anthem after another since the mid-'80s, from the title track from Peace Sells…But Who’s Buying? to “Holy Wars…The Punishment Due,” “Hangar 18,” “Symphony of Destruction,” and many, many more. These are the songs audiences scream for whenever the band tours. But diehard Megadeth fans always have their favorite deep album cuts – tracks that never became fixtures of the live set, but are every bit as crushing, technically accomplished, and furious as the band’s better-known work. Here are 13 of our favorites…and we’re sure that when you hear the new Megadeth album, TH1RT3EN, when it hits stores November 1, you’ll be adding a track or three to this list yourselves.
“Chosen Ones” (Killing Is My Business…And Business Is Good, 1985): When you consider that their first three releases contained a mere eight songs each, it’s not easy finding deep cuts. Still, of all the pit anthems unleashed on Megadeth’s debut, “Chosen Ones” was probably the weirdest – especially considering that the guitar parts are basically Deep Purple riffs whipped through a centrifuge – but it’s never one of the tunes that get singled out from this record, and that’s too bad.
“Bad Omen” (Peace Sells…But Who's Buying?, 1986): Not a whole lot of fat on this sophomore effort, but the lesser of the two satanic invocations on Peace Sells usually gets passed over, despite containing a truly ominous intro and some of Dave Mustaine’s most spitfire vocals. The dude sounds truly demonic, which is appropriate, considering the subject matter.
“502” (So Far, So Good…So What, 1988): The first of many MegaDave songs about driving real fast, this one is also the most harrowing, mostly because it’s about driving real fast while drunk – and its white-knuckle riffing shoves you right into the driver’s seat. Probably based on a true story, but fortunately nobody was hurt in the making of these lyrics – which puts Mustaine one up on his former tourmate, Motley Crue’s Vince Neil.
“Lucretia” (Rust in Peace, 1990): If there are really any deep cuts on Megadeth’s undisputed classic, this is probably the best of them, its witchy woman antagonist mesmerizing Mustaine, and the music featuring a truly creepy climb up and down the scales courtesy of then-guitarist Marty Friedman.
“Captive Honour” (Countdown to Extinction, 1992): The band’s biggest-selling album had some bloat towards the end, thanks to the extended running time allowed by the ascent of the CD. Still, this one stands out mostly due to how insane it is – acoustic guitars, bass-driven melody, quotes from French philosophers, and the daffy skit at the beginning with its unsympathetic judge and nod to the song “Peace Sells.”
“99 Ways to Die” (The Beavis & Butt-Head Experience/Hidden Treasures, 1993/1995): One of the highlights of the otherwise underwhelming Beavis & Butt-Head Experience compilation, this return to the band’s earlier screaming thrash fury made for a welcome detour before they started exploring uncharted realms of rock-radio friendliness.
“Victory” (Youthanasia, 1994): The closing track on Megadeth’s sixth album, “Victory” celebrated the band’s meteoric climb over the previous decade with a fast, dirty little punk song stringing together song titles from the previous five albums. The band still had a long way to go from here, but this song seems like a tacit admission that they were closing the door on the first phase of their career.
“I’ll Get Even” (Cryptic Writings, 1997): Cryptic Writings marked the beginning of Megadeth’s rock radio era. It’s actually stood the test of time better than comparable efforts by some of their contemporaries, thanks to something like five killer singles and this track, with its undeniable chorus, syncopated verses and one of Mustaine’s most inspired vocal performances, dripping with ice-cold venom.
“I’ll Be There” (Risk, 1999): And so we arrive at one of the most notorious flops in metal history. Plenty of ink has been spilled ripping on this record, but quite frankly, it’s nowhere near as bad as its reputation would suggest. Songs like this one are the reason, a testament to Mustaine’s maturity as a songwriter. Putting aside the fact that it’s still really weird to hear Megadeth doing a ballad, this ode to their South American fan base is one of the loveliest compositions Dave Mustaine has written.
“1000 Times Goodbye” (The World Needs a Hero, 2001): In some ways, this attempted return to form was a tepid effort, but there are some serious gems hidden within. For example: this anti-romantic kiss-off, with its catchy chorus, never-ending guitar solo, and Mustaine’s all-time classic spitting out of the phrase “You suck.”
“Something That I’m Not” (The System Has Failed, 2004): This actual return to form may have offered a few too many songs, but the killer-to-filler ratio had improved greatly. Even though Glen Drover’s psych-rock guitar bursts were a new thing for Megadeth, “Something That I’m Not” still had enough bite to remind listeners of the group’s earliest days.
“Play for Blood” (United Abominations, 2007): Megadeth’s arrival on Roadrunner found the band blasting at full throttle. Amidst the political diatribes and videogame theme songs, astute listeners noticed this track, a last-man-standing gunbattle that would appear to be an attempt to make up for Risk’s similarly themed (but much tamer) “Crush ’Em.” And while it may not be as catchy, it certainly made better music for killing the Locust in Gears of War.
“The Hardest Part of Letting Go...Sealed with a Kiss” (Endgame, 2009): On Megadeth’s late-period masterpiece, Mustaine turned his penchant for ellipse-divided song titles and structure on its head by applying it to this poisonous love song. Bringing in synth strings and flamenco-influenced guitar stylings from Chris Broderick, Mustaine and producer Andy Sneap transformed what could have been a fairly standard ballad into a snarling Megadeth ballad.
Megadeth's TH1RT3EN is now available for pre-order on iTunes; click here to get it.