Dad: I want to watch the news! Son: This is the news.
— "Peace Sells" music video
"Muh-uh-Ladies and gentlemen, meh-muh-meh-muh-meh-muh-MEGADETH!!!"
— The Eager Young Space Cadet, Duck Dodgers, "In Space, No One Can Hear You Rock"
One of the "Big Four" Thrash Metal bands, Megadeth was formed by guitarist Dave Mustaine after he was kicked out of Metallica for drinking and violent behaviour. After two years of lineup instability, the band settled down and were signed to Combat Records, where they released their debut album Killing Is My Business... and Business Is Good. Despite a poor production and a thrash metal cover of a Nancy Sinatra song that later got them in legal trouble, the album was well received.When the time came to record their second album, Mustaine got fed up with the small label's shortcomings and signed the band with Capitol Records instead. Their second album, Peace Sells...but Who's Buying? was released in 1986, again receiving critical acclaim and commercial success. However, the tour became plagued by substance abuse problems, which spilled over during the recording of So Far, So Good...So What!. Released in 1988, the album reached number 30 on the Billboard 200 despite having no commercial radio play.After some time off in rehab for Megadeth and another line-up change, Megadeth returned with Rust in Peace in 1990, a progressive effort which contained the famous songs "Holy Wars...The Punishment Due" and "Hangar 18". They remained silent for two years, after which they pulled a Follow the Leader and released Countdown to Extinction, an album full of slower, less thrashy, straightforward heavy metal songs modeled after Metallica. It was their greatest commercial success, reaching #2 on the US charts and selling in excess of 2 million copies, propelled by the singles "Symphony of Destruction", "Foreclosure of a Dream" and "Sweating Bullets". The simplification continued on 1994's Youthanasia, attracting some condemnation from older fans but overall being received just as well as its predecessor, going to #4 on the charts and spawning the hits "A Tout le Monde", with a video banned by MTV for supposedly being "pro-suicide", and "Train of Consequences".Troubles started in 1995 after Megadeth changed their management, hiring Bud Prager. His influence would ultimately prove counterproductive, as he steered the band towards more blatantly commercial tracks, convinced them to work with Nashville pop producer Dann Huff, and closely supervised the writing process, also contributing musical ideas and lyrics to the songs. Cryptic Writings was released in 1997, to a mixed critical reception and less sales than Youthanasia, despite four Mainstream Rock hits. Mustaine then made the critical mistake of giving more influence to Prager and Huff, which resulted in the Risk which was disliked the majority of the fanbase. Largely eschewing metal in favour of newfound dance and electronic influences, it was a failure that triggered a backlash among fans and critics.After the debacle, Megadeth left Capitol Records for Sanctuary Records instead. Mustaine fired Bud Prager, and decided to self-produce their next album, which would be a return to metal. The World Needs a Hero did mark a return to form, but had a mixed reception critically and commercially.In 2002, Dave Mustaine suffered an outbreak of radial neuropathy in his left arm, and temporarily disbanded Megadeth. After physical therapy and occupying himself with remastering the band's catalogue, he gathered a new lineup (the first to include Chris Poland since 1988), and released The System Has Failed in 2004, to critical acclaim. Since, they've released United Abominations on Roadrunner Records in 2007, and Endgame in 2009, both to further acclaim from fans and critics. (Especially Endgame.) Megadeth's next album, simply titled Th1rt3en, was released in 2011. Super Collider, was released in 2013.The band are famous for their musical skills, extended songs, and sociopolitical sensibilities expressed in the lyrics, especially during their "classic" period (1985-1994). And, while not to the extent of Anthrax, the band's lyrics tend to be more humorous (in a sarcastic/tongue-in-cheek manner) than those of Metallica and Slayer. Despite the late-career follies that have also plagued Metallica (sans Digital Piracy Is Evil), their place in the thrash metal pantheon is assured, arguably more so after their second wind in 2004.Current lineup
Nick Menza - drums, backing vocals, 1989-1998 (classic lineup)
Jimmy DeGrasso - drums, 1998-2000
Al Pitrelli - guitar, backing vocals, 2000-2002
Jimmy Sloas - bass, 2004 (The System Has Failed session only)
Vinnie Colaiuta - drums, 2004 (The System Has Failed session only)
Glen Drover - guitar, backing vocals, 2004-2008
James LoMenzo - bass guitar, backing vocals, 2006-2010
1985: Killing Is My Business...and Business Is Good!
1986: Peace Sells...but Who's Buying?
1988: So Far, So Good...So What!
1990: Rust in Peace
1992: Countdown to Extinction
1995: Hidden Treasures EP
1997: Cryptic Writings
2001: The World Needs a Hero
Following The World Needs a Hero, Mustaine suffered the now-notorious arm injury, causing the band to disband for two years. When it was reformed, only Mustaine remained from the pre-split line-up. In that time, the first eight albums were remastered and re-released.
He "dedicated" the song Liar to former guitarist Chris Poland. The song as the name suggests is a very scathing attack.
The Alcoholic: Everyone in Metallica drank heavily at the time Dave Mustaine was kicked out, to the point that the band was nicknamed "Alcoholica." However, Mustaine was the only one who was a violent drunk, and his behavior was what led to his firing.
The Atoner: Dave has been resolving past feuds after regrouping his band.
He's friends with Slayer and Metallica now. The Metallica feud dying out on its own as the two parties became less and less bitter. Apparently, Dave and James Hetfield are on friendly terms again and exchange Christmas cards and there is a rumor continuing to float around that Dave wants Metallica to play Gigantour. As of 2010, both bands have shared the stage several times without a problem.
Mustaine's feud with Ellefson was over Ellefson suing him in 2002 over allegedly unpaid royalties and not turning Megadeth over to him. This feud ending is obvious with the suit and Mustaine's countersuit being resolved out of court and Ellefson being back in the band.
Chris Poland's feud was because he was selling the band's gear for drugs, which was eventually resolved, first with his hiring as a session musician for The System Has Failed, and then by starting to post on the Megadeth message board in 2006.
Berserk Button: For decades, mentioning Metallica to Dave Mustaine was a surefire way to make him launch into a rant. In recent years, however, he has come to peace with his former bandmates and Megadeth even opened for Metallica during the "Big 4" series of concerts.
Cloudcuckoolander: Dave has always been this but has gotten worse in recent years. Lampshaded in the song Lucretia with the line "Dave, you're mental anyway".
Erupted among the metal world when Dave announced he endorsed Rick Santorum for the presidency in 2012. This one got so bad Dave had to backtrack and claim that it wasn't an endorsement, but just a statement of support.
Another, earlier, smaller one was when Megadeth refused to play in a festival with Greek extreme metal band Rotting Christ (and later in Israel with Dissection) due to Mustaine's Christian beliefs.
Around the time of the Santorum endorsement, Mustaine was also asked about his beliefs on gay marriage. Most of the time, he tried to avoid conflict by saying he was against it due to his christianity. But on one occasion he said "The last thing I need is a bunch of homos picketing us", barely disguising his hatred.
He once suggestion that Obama's government staged shootings (such as the one in Aurora, Colorado) in order to provide reasons for laws against gun use. Mustaine had previously questioned Obama's place of birth. Though he later retracted his statement after one of the Aurora victims called him out on it, saying that his comments were made "in the heat of the moment"
Green-Eyed Monster: Dave Mustaine's driving force for a large portion of his career was his jealously towards Metallica. He eventually mellowed out and forgives them.
He Who Fights Monsters: Dave wrote the lyrics to "Peace Sells" as an attack against the people who claim that heavy metal fans are stupid and antisocial. Then in 2014 Dave was asked by VH-1 why heavy metal music typically doesn't get any respect. Dave's answer: "Because the typical Metalhead is too stupid".
I Am the Band: Until The World Needs A Hero. Dave Mustaine later took offense to Steven Tyler saying that Dave was Megadeth, and several band members have been given more influence in song writing and line-up decisions. Pretty much every line-up change since 2004 has come from recommendation from everyone else in the band, including David Ellefson's return.
Red Headed Bully: Dave Mustaine noted in Megadeth's VH-1 Behind The Music that he was one of these as a kid. It was a way of taking out his frustration after his father left the family. Mustaine still had a reputation for this by the time he was in Metallica, he used to pick on Ron McGovney and punched James Hetfield at least once. Mustaine became a nicer person after expressing much of his anger through his music, but still is known to be difficult to work with sometimes.
Revolving Door Band: The members listed at the top of the page are only the members who have appeared on some recording. At least two more drummers and three more guitarists could be added to that list, including Kerry King during the band's early years.
Start My Own: Mustaine's reason about why he started Megadeth. It was after he was fired from Metallica due to his alcohol problems.
Throwing Off the Disability: After receiving the injury that would break up Megadeth, Dave was told that his arm would never fully recover and he would never be able to properly play guitar again. Yeah, we know how well that claim went.
Welcome Back, Traitor: Chris Poland (twice, actually), Nick Menza and David Ellefson. In that order. Subverted with the two former; Menza just didn't mesh with the reincarnation of Megadeth, and Chris Poland chose to be only a session musician for the Rust In Peace demos and later The System Has Failed.
Album Title Drop: Every album except So Far... and Risk has had one song that does this. The ones that have no title track, though, are Cryptic Writings (which is namedropped in "Use the Man") and The System Has Failed (mentioned in "Kick the Chair").
Anti-Love Song: Megadeth mostly focused on politics and storytelling as opposed to personal stuff until around Countdown. Some examples:
"Last Rites/Loved To Deth", from Killing....
"Wake Up Dead" from Peace Sells....
"In My Darkest Hour" from So Far, So Good... So What!
"Tornado Of Souls" from Rust In Peace
"This Was My Life" from Countdown To Extinction
"Reckoning Day" from Youthanasia
A lot of songs from Cryptic Writings, such as "Trust":
We lied to each other so much that in nothing we trust...
"The Hardest Part Of Letting Go...Sealed With A Kiss", from Endgame.
Dave: This is a song about how many times I tried to kill myself and just couldn't get the fucking job done.
Censored for Comedy: The original writer of "These Boots Are Made For Walkin'," Lee Hazlewood, objected to Megadeth's parody cover and its changed lyrics after its release. So when all of Killing Is My Business got remixed and remastered in 2002, every lyric change got bleeped out, but the worst the song really got was "Now someone else can kiss your ass" and "Whaddya know bitch, you got a lot to learn." And what would you make of the line "One of these days, these boots are gonna stomp all over you"?
Concept Album: Peace Sells..., Rust in Peace, Countdown to Extinction, and Youthanasia, all of them sort of.
Conspiracy Theorist: Some of Dave's lyrics deal with conspiracy; such as "New World Order", "Washington is Next" and "Endgame." He was also a friendly guest on the Alex Jones Show.
Country Matters: In the "Anarchy" cover below ("Or just another country/And other cunt-like tendencies"). The original was actually much cleaner ("Another council tenancy").
This was because Dave couldn't understand what Johnny Rotten was singing in many parts (which is why he sings the wrong lyrics in the record), so he sang what he thought it was the lyrics as he went (including this example).
" 'We've been hung out to dry.' That line is probably the strongest representation of how we feel about the young people who listen to our music and what their future holds for them. You have a choice - you can be pro-active, or you can choose youthanasia." — Dave Mustaine, explaining the song "Youthanasia" in an interview
Justice means nothing today Now that the courts are for sale Pick a crime from the menu; pick a sentence and defend you And pay the down payment called bail The system's for sale
And finally, Endgame◊ is explained in its title track, like Youthanasia above:
A system of controlled movement, like a giant ant farm Any time is a long time, now you're not in charge of your time anymore
Surprisingly, this was subverted with Countdown To Extinction◊ even before Megadeth started to play the trope straight. The title track actually speaks out against canned hunting in this case, rather than being a War Is Hell song like several of the '80s tracks.
"Head Crusher", from Endgame. Its starting solo WILL crush your head. It makes sense, since it's about an ancient torture device that crushes your skull. Not pretty. Just look at the album art for the single.◊
The band's thirteenth album is entitled "Th1rt3en."
Gratuitous French: The chorus of "A Tout le Monde". Surprisingly well-pronounced though. Also, the demo for said song had significantly less refined French than the final version, but Mustaine got the help of an unnamed French journalist to tidy things up.
Dave has some degree of Spanish competence, as he shows in That One Night.
There are versions of "Trust" and "Promises" with the choruses translated literally; the Spanish chorus was used once when they performed "Trust" on That One Night (the other three iterations of the chorus were all still in English).
Mohs Scale of Rock and Metal Hardness: The eighties albums were 7-8. Rust in Peace was too, except for "Dawn Patrol," which was a 6. However, Countdown to Extinction was a bit softer than earlier albums, though Youthanasia was pretty heavy. Both albums are a pretty solid 7 for the most part. Cryptic Writings dropped things down a bit (being mostly at about a 6 or 7 with "Use The Man" being a 4), then Risk was more of a softer direction, which was about 4-6 on the scale. The next three albums were 7 with an occasional step up to 8. Endgame, however, returns to the mostly 8 songs. While Th1rt3en returns to mostly 7 songs. Strangely, the band never quite made it into 9 territory (except maybe with Black Friday, which teeters somewhere between an 8 and a 9).
Mood Whiplash: "The Hardest Part of Letting Go... Sealed With a Kiss" begins as a ballad, but then turns into an aggressive metal song without warning partway through. It then changes back to a ballad at the end. In Endgame, it is followed by "Head Crusher", which is possibly the heaviest song on the album.
"Last Rites/Loved to Deth" starts with a soft piano piece, then descends into brutal thrashery.
New Sound Album: Most notably is Risk and perhaps Countdown to Extinction (though their 90's stuff is generally different than the 80's recordings, which were rougher).
Also Youthanasia, which featured downtuned instruments (to E-flat; most Megadeth albums are done in E-tuning) and a dramatic shift to mostly slow-paced songs.
Non-Appearing Title: "Bad Omen," "Poison Was The Cure" and "My Kingdom" (although the word "king" appears twice in the last one). Only part of the title appears in "Holy Wars... The Punishment Due," "Tornado Of Souls," "Return To Hangar" (sequel to "Hangar 18" with the same exact chorus lyric) and "Never Walk Alone... A Call To Arms."
Not Christian Rock: Four songs from The System Has Failed (the four last ones: "Truth Be Told", "Of Mice and Men", "Shadow of Deth" and "My Kingdom Come") and two songs from United Abominations ("Never Walk Alone... A Call to Arms" and "Blessed Are the Dead").
Several on TH1RT3EN: "Sudden Death" (originally recorded for Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock in 2010), "Black Swan" (bonus track on United Abominations) as well as "New World Order" and "Millennium Of The Blind" (bonus tracks on the 2004 remaster of Youthanasia— a demo of "New World Order" also appeared on some editions of the Hidden Treasures EP).
"Use the Man" begins with an excerpt from The Searchers' "Needles and Pins" (this only appeared on the original CD and not the remaster).
The band's cover of the Duke Nukem theme features samples of catchphrases from Duke Nukem.
Samples of actual AK-47 shots and news reports were used in "44 Minutes".
Song Of Song Titles: "Victory", from Youthanasia, is a basic example of this. A funny thing to notice is how the songs are, for the most part, well-divided amongst themselves: Killing and Peace Sells songs on the first verse, and So Far..., Rust and Countdown songs on the second (though "Peace Sells" gets dropped in the second verse).
F is for fighting, R is for red Ancestors' blood in battles they've shed E we elect them, E we eject them In the land of the free, and the home of the brave D for dying, O your overture M they will cover your grave with manure This spells out "freedom", it means nothing to me As long as there's a PMRC
Spoken Word In Music: The famous "Read my lips" quote by George H.W. Bush was sampled in 1992's "Foreclosure Of A Dream," and 2004's "The Scorpion" ends with a chain of news reports by the same anchorman while the music fades out.
The band has actually used this quite frequently since Countdown to Extinction.
Metallica can be seen as the first bullseye of Mustaine's declarations, for obvious reasons.
The "Don't wear no leather to fit in / Don't wear no spikes to be cool" in "Rattlehead" from Killing... is very easy to interpret as a shot at the lyrics "No life 'til leather" and "[...] with your leathers and your spikes" from "Hit the Lights" and "Whiplash", respectively, from Kill 'em All.
"Captive Honor"'s line "Kill them all and you're a god" seems to partially be about how Metallica profited from Mustaine's songwriting on their album ''Kill 'em All".
"Hook In Mouth", while being a song against censorship in general, takes a very direct hit at the PMRC.
Yandere: The protagonist of "Last Rites/Loved to Deth", who kills a girl so no one else will date her.
The Artifact: Mustaine says in the liner notes to the 2004 remix/remaster of "Risk" that he knew it was the beginning of the end for the band. Only a few months after those liner notes were written, the band reformed and released their comeback album "The System Has Failed". and are still going strong to this day. The 2004 remaster of Risk is still the in-print version of it, and the liner notes haven't been changed, so can confuse people who don't know Mustaine really thought the band were finished when he wrote those liner notes.
Follow the Leader: Many parallels with Metallica's career. Most of the bands' albums had similarities in the execution, with Megadeth usually following Metallica's lead. (...And Justice For All and Rust In Peace; Metallica (The Black Album) and Countdown to Extinction; even Load/Re Load and Cryptic Writings, to an extent.) Inverted after St. Anger; Metallica's Death Magnetic is a comeback in the vein of The System Has Failed (though some will say that said comeback also happened around the same time with Endgame).
Myspeld Rökband: "Megadeath" was a term coined in 1953 by RAND military strategist Herman Kahn to describe one million deaths in the event of thermonuclear war.
Mascot: The skeletal Vic Rattlehead. He's a Visual Pun for "See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil", although in "Skull Beneath the Skin", the song that apparently describes his creation, he's the victim of a black magic ritual:
Prepare the patient's scalp To peel away Metal caps his ears He'll hear not what we say Solid steel visor Riveted across his eyes Iron staples close his jaws So no one hears his cries
No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: The music video for "Head Crusher" is based around a wrestling tournament in which skilled fighters beat up prisoners.
Remaster: Mustaine remixed and remastered all of the albums from Killing Is My Business... through Risk while he was recovering from his arm injury.
The Power of Rock: In a episode of Duck Dodgers, Megadeth appears to fight off a Martian invasion with their loud metal music. Mustaine had a modified electric guitar that shot laser beams at space ships.
Put on a Bus: Literally the way Dave was expelled from Metallica.
After Dave unintentionally caused a riot at a concert in Ireland, he wrote the line "Fools like me who cross the sea / And come to foreign lands" in "Holy Wars" as a jab at himself.
He also slips in the line 'All my friends say: Dave you're mental anyway' into the song Lucretia.
The line 'Kill 'em all', and you're a god' in "Captive Honor" is likely to be a response to Metallica's success with songs that he wrote on the album Kill 'Em All.
Some ex-members like David Ellefson, Al Pitrelli and Nick Menza are/were among the receptors of Dave's word shots on interviews. Ironically, Ellefson would return to the band and they're back to being friends again.
Another interview had him taking a jab at Pantera for aping their sound. Ironically again, he wanted Dimebag Darrell in the past for the band, and he aped their sound for "Train of Consequences".