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Music / Megadeth

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Current Megadeth lineup. L - R: Bassist David Ellefson, drummer Dirk Verbeuren, guitarist Dave Mustaine, and guitarist Kiko Loureiro.

Dadnote : What is this garbage you're watching? 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"

What do you mean I can’t describe Megadeth here?

One of the "Big Four" Thrash Metal bands, Megadeth was formed in 1983 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 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 the band 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 "Train of Consequences" and "A Tout le Monde," with MTV banning the latter's video for supposedly being "pro-suicide."


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 Risk. 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. 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 last album on that label, simply titled Th1rt3en, was released in 2011. After that Dave Mustaine started his own record label, Tradecraft, in 2013; Super Collider was released that same year. The band saw some turmoil near the end of 2014 due to the departure of long time members Shawn Drover and Chris Broderick, but the band soldiered on. Dystopia, which saw the band include Chris Adler of Lamb of God and Kiko Loureiro of Angra among their ranks, was released in January 2016.

The band are famous for their musical skills, extended songs, and sociopolitical sensibilities expressed in the lyrics, especially during their "classic" period (1985-1994). While not to the extent of Anthrax, their 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 Members:

  • Dave Mustaine - lead vocals, guitars (1983-present)
  • David Ellefson - bass, backing vocals (1984-2002, 2010-present)
  • Kiko Loureiro - guitars, backing vocals (2015-present)
  • Dirk Verbeuren - drums (2016-present)

Former Members:

  • Lawrence Kane - lead vocals (1983)
  • Robert Cromwell - guitars (1983)
  • Matt Kisselstein - bass (1983)
  • Greg Handevidt - guitars (1983)
  • Dijon Caruthers - drums (1983)
  • Lee Rausch - drums (1984)
  • Kerry King - guitars (1984)
  • Gar Samuelson - drums, backing vocals (1984-1988)
  • Chris Poland - guitars, backing vocals (1985-1988, 1989)
  • Mike Albert - touring guitars (1985)
  • Chuck Behler - drums, backing vocals (1987-1989)
  • Jeff Young - guitars, backing vocals (1987-1989)
  • Nick Menza - drums, backing vocals (1989-1998)
  • Marty Friedman - guitars, backing vocals (1989-2000)
  • Jimmy DeGrasso - drums (1998-2000)
  • Al Pitrelli - guitars, backing vocals (2000-2002)
  • Shawn Drover - drums (2004-2014)
  • Chris Adler - drums (2015-2016)
  • Glen Drover - guitars, backing vocals (2004-2008)
  • James MacDonough - bass (2004-2006)
  • James LoMenzo - bass, backing vocals (2006-2010)
  • Chris Broderick - guitars, backing vocals (2008-2014)


  • 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
  • 1994: Youthanasia
  • 1995: Hidden Treasures EP
  • 1997: Cryptic Writings
  • 1999: Risk
  • 2001: The World Needs a Hero
  • 2004: The System Has Failed
  • 2007: United Abominations
  • 2009: Endgame
  • 2011: TH1RT3EN
  • 2013: Super Collider
  • 2016: Dystopia

"Tropes sell, but who's buying?"

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    Song Tropes 
  • Age-Progression Song: "Of Mice and Men," from The System Has Failed.
  • Album Title Drop: Aside from the Title Tracks, even the borderline case "Peace Sells" (the chorus goes "Peace sells...but who's buying?"), "Use the Man" has the line "Cryptic writing(s) on the wall, the beginning of the end", "Kick the Chair" goes "You're going to jail / The system has failed".
  • 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... is about a toxic relationship that carries over into hell (literally).
    • "Wake Up Dead" from Peace Sells... is about a man trying to sneak back into his home without waking up his wife after cheating on her.
    • "In My Darkest Hour" from So Far, So Good... So What!
    • "Tornado of Souls" from Rust in Peace is about divorce and features some pointed Take Thats to the woman in question.
    • "This Was My Life" from Countdown to Extinction.
    • "Reckoning Day" from Youthanasia.
    • "Trust" and "Almost Honest" from Cryptic Writings. "Almost Honest" doubles as a Break-Up Song:
      "I lied just a little
      When I said I need you
      You stretched the truth
      When you said that you knew
      I just can't believe it
      There's nothing to say
      I was almost honest
    • "The Hardest Part of Letting Go... Sealed with a Kiss," from Endgame.
  • Arc Number: Thirteen for... well, TH1RT3EN.
  • As the Good Book Says...: "Shadow of Deth" is basically Psalm 23 as a Megadeth song.
  • Audience Participation Song:
    • The instrumental part of "Hangar 18" has its main riff seem just made to yell "ME-GA-DETH!" to it. They have many more songs for this, just check the DVD "That One Night" for more examples.
  • Ax-Crazy: "Black Friday" is about a serial killer who dispatches his victims in very bloody fashion.
  • Axes at School: "Have Cool, Will Travel".
  • Badass Boast:
    • Basically the first 2 minutes of vocals in "Prince of Darkness".
      I am more powerful than all the armies of the world
      I am more violent than violence, more deadly than death
      I have destroyed more men than all the nation's wars
      I am relentless, unpredictable, waiting for your last breath
    • From "Peace Sells":
      What do you mean I couldn't be President of the United States of America
      Tell me something, it's still 'We The People', right?
  • Bawdy Song: The original "The Mechanix" note , which uses auto repairs as a metaphor for getting busy.
  • Biting-the-Hand Humor: Their last release on Capitol Records was a Greatest Hits Album titled Capitol Punishment: The Megadeth Years.
  • Break-Up Song: Dave's written a few, some about Metallica, some about his then-fiancée Diana. Needless to say, these songs are some of his angriest, which is really saying something all things considered.
  • Bungled Suicide: "Skin o' My Teeth", from Countdown to Extinction.
    Dave: This is a song about how many times I tried to kill myself and just couldn't get the fucking job done.
  • Call-Back: "Victory" from Youthanasia is loaded with references to older songs.
  • Careful with That Axe: Dave. His high pitched whine is a Megadeth staple.
  • 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"?
    • According to Dave, the reason why the censorship happened in the first place indeed stemmed from Lee's objections. However, between the album's original release in 1985 until it was being prepared for remastering, Lee had made no objection at all until the royalty checks stopped coming in.
  • Chronological Album Title: TH1RT3EEN.
  • Concept Album: Peace Sells..., Rust in Peace, Countdown to Extinction, Youthanasia, and Dystopia, all of them sort of.
  • Conspiracy Theorist: Some of Mustaine'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.
  • Continuity Nod:
    • "Return to Hangar" from The World Needs a Hero was written as a Sequel Song to "Hangar 18" from Rust in Peace.
    • The symbols at the bottom of Th1rt3en reference the previous 12 covers (a booklet picture even sets them in chronological order).
  • Country Matters: The messed up line in their cover of "Anarchy in the U.K." ("Or just another country / And other cunt-like tendencies", instead of "Another council tenancy") was due to Mustaine not being able to understand what Johnny Rotten was singing in many parts.
  • Cover Drop: Three straight examples, with the earliest being Youthanasia:
    "'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.
    • The cover to The System Has Failed makes a bit more sense with the lyrics to "Kick the Chair," which also contains the album title:
      "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.
    • There is a borderline example in the very first album, as "Skull Beneath the Skin" describes Vic Rattlehead (whose skull adorns the album cover).
  • Cover Version and Rearrange the Song: Any song they cover, they make it thrash metal, and it's awesome.
  • Cyberpunk: Dystopia in all it's glory.
  • Did You Think I Can't Feel?: The lyrics of "When" express this.
  • The Diss Track:
    • 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.
    • "Hook In Mouth", while being a song against censorship in general, takes a very direct hit at the PMRC.
    • "Liar" was written about Chris Poland, who ended up recording as a session member for the ''Rust In Peace'' demos only one year later (and eventually for The System Has Failed in 2004).
    • "Something That I'm Not", from The System Has Failed, could either be a shot at Lars Ulrich or Bud Prager, their infamous producer:
      "Unlike you I'm no vision to myself, lest you forget
      You didn't ever make metal, buddy; metal made you."
    • "Back In The Day" is a Take That! at Bud Prager and is mentioned as such in the booklet for The System Has Failed.
  • Drugs Are Bad: "Burnt Ice," from United Abominations is about drug addiction, most likely meth. "Poison Was the Cure" note , "Addicted to Chaos", "Use the Man"note , and "Kingmaker" are other examples.
  • Epic Rocking: "When", from The World Needs a Hero lasts 9:13.
  • Everything's Better with Monkeys: The chimpanzees in the video for "Public Enemy No. 1."
  • Everything Trying to Kill You: The final verse of "Black Curtains".
  • Evil Laugh: This was used to Narmful levels in "Loved to Deth", but only once at the start of "Lucretia" (the latter can also be heard in "Victory" when the song is referenced).
  • Exactly What It Says on the Tin:
    • "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.
    • "Rattlehead" from Killing is My Business. Just a full on speed metal assault, basically forcing and urging you to well... rattle your head.
    • The band's thirteenth album is entitled "Th1rt3en."
  • Excited Album Title!: Killing is My Business... And Business is Good! and So Far, So Good... So What!
    • Excited Song Title!: "Killing is My Business... And Business is Good!", "Washington is Next!" (from United Abominations), "This Day We Fight!" (from Endgame), and "Burn!" (from Super Collider).
  • Early Installment Weirdness: Killing is My Business features some obvious differences from later albums. Firstly, the production is abysmal, and the songs are more structured around sheer speed rather then virtuosity. Secondly, the lyrics are far more juvenile, with songs like "Mechanix" and "Rattlehead" being straightforward songs about getting laid and heavy metal itself, a far cry from the scathing social commentary of their later offerings.
  • Fading into the Next Song: "Dialectic Chaos" into "This Day We Fight!" and "Bodies" into "Endgame", both from Endgame.
  • Famous Last Words: "À Tout le Monde" is a hypothetical version, as clarified by Dave in an interview (specifically to shoot down claims that it was a suicide letter).
  • Filk Song:
    • The second part of "Holy Wars... The Punishment Due" is about The Punisher, from Frank Castle's point of view.
    • "Five Magics" from Rust in Peace is about the Lyndon Hardy novel "Master of the Five Magics"
  • Gorn: A large part of "Black Friday"'s lyrics are about the...very messy things the song's subject does to his victims.
    • "Skull Beneath the Skin" is about the "birth" of Vic Rattlehead, depicted as a captive of a satanic cult who ritualistically mutilate his face and cut off his senses, all in fairly graphic detail.
  • 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.
  • Gratuitous Spanish:
    • 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).
  • Happy Place: More like "A Secret Place", from Cryptic Writings.
  • Harsh Vocals: Dave often resorts to growling, or shrieking, depends on the day, really.
  • Head in a Vise: "Head Crusher" describes a victim's torture and execution via this method.
  • Heavy Meta: "Back In The Day".
  • Heavy Mithril: "This Day We Fight" is based on The Lord of the Rings.
  • Holding Out for a Hero: The trope was originally named "The World Needs a Hero," after all.
  • Homage: According to Dave, "When", from The World Needs a Hero, to Diamond Head's "Am I Evil?".
  • Horsemen of the Apocalypse: "Blessed Are the Dead" seems to suggest they might be a lesser evil than mankind itself.
  • Incest Is Relative: "Family Tree", which even uses the lures molesters use as part of the chorus.
    "Let me show you how I love you
    It's our secret, you and me
    Let me show you how I love you
    The secret of the family tree."
  • Instrumentals: "Duke Nukem Theme", "Dialectic Chaos" (from Endgame) and "Into the Lungs of Hell". (From So Far, So Good... So What!)
  • In the Style of...: Parodied as Jimmy Kimmel Live! had them do a commercial for a Christmas album. On the other end, Dave's daughter Electra is trying to make a career in country music, and recorded Megadeth in that genre.
  • Ironic Nursery Rhyme: The remastered version of "Have Cool, Will Travel" begins with a recording of "The Wheels on the Bus".
  • Just Before the End:
    • "Set the World Afire", from So Far...
    • "Countdown to Extinction" and "Symphony of Destruction", from Countdown to Extinction.
      • "Countdown to Extinction" is actually about canned hunting, so the "extinction" here is of endangered animal species, not the world as a whole.
    • "How the Story Ends", from Endgame.
  • Lead Bassist: David Ellefson, founding member of the band, co-songwriter, part of every lineup except a few years in the 2000's, wrote one of the most famous basslines in all of music, and has the privilege of actually being audible in a metal band, safe to say, he counts.
  • Last Chorus Slow-Down: "Trust" and "A Tout le Monde".
  • Last Note Nightmare: "High Speed Dirt", a song about skydiving, ends with an "shiiiiiiiIIIIIIT" — (loud thud / splat sound).
  • Metal Band Mascot: Vic Rattlehead, the sensory-deprived skeleton who appears in some fashion on all their album art and is portrayed by a man in costume during concerts.
  • Metalhead: "Rattlehead" is dedicated to the band’s mascot and the fans and is about thrashing to metal.
  • Mohs Scale of Rock and Metal Hardness: The first four albums are mainly an 8, sometimes going down to a 7, with the exception of Rust in Peace's "Dawn Patrol" which is about a 2. However, Countdown to Extinction is less harsh in contrast, and its follow-up, Youthanasia, is more melodic overall. Both albums are a pretty solid 7 for the most part (with "Foreclosure of a Dream" and "Addicted to Chaos" being a 6, and "A Tout le Monde" being about a 5). Cryptic Writings is more commercial, being mostly at about a 6-7. Risk, missing many of the metal influences the band had before, is at about a 4-6 on the scale. The next three albums were mostly a 7 with an occasional step up to an 8. Endgame, however, returns to the mostly 8 songs. In contrast, Th1rt3en returns to the mostly 7 songs, while Super Collider is a 6-7. This was reversed with Dystopia, which returns to mostly 8 songs. The band rarely made it into 9 territory, with "Loved to Deth", "Good Mourning / Black Friday", and "Head Crusher" teetering around 8-9.
    • "Use the Man" is probably the hardest Megadeth song to pin down on this scale. Its verses are a 2, the chorus is about a 4 or 5, and the guitar solo and outro are a 7 or 8.
  • Mohs Scale of Lyrical Hardness: Hardly gets below a 6, as Dave is extremely cynical, and can punctuate with things such as the violent descriptions of "Black Friday".
  • 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 / organ piece, then descends into brutal thrashery.
  • Movie Bonus Song: "Angry Again", "No More Mr. Nice Guy," "Diadems" and "Breakpoint." All collected in the Hidden Treasures EP.
    • "Diadems" is a different version on the soundtrack, however.
    • They also rerecorded "These Boots" in 1988 for a movie soundtrack. This version of the song has not been rereleased.
    • "Crush 'Em".
  • Myspeld Rökband / Funetik Aksent: Megadeth, as opposed to "megadeath", a term coined in 1953 by RAND military strategist Herman Kahn to describe one million deaths in the event of thermonuclear war (which Dave considered A Good Name for a Rock Band after reading it in a flyer).
  • NameTron: "Psychotron" from Countdown.
  • New Sound Album: The first was arguably Rust in Peace, as it was much more focused on technical musicianship than the previous albums. Countdown is the first definite example, slowing down to a more traditional metal style than pure thrash / speed. Youthanasia continued this style, featuring mostly slow-paced songs and downtuned instruments (to E-flat; most Megadeth albums are done in E-tuning). Cryptic Writings was a much more blatantly commercial sounding album, and Risk is the one where metal pretty much went out the door and fans and critics started screaming.
  • 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").
  • Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep: Used at the beginning of "Go to Hell", and then parodied at the end:
    "Now I lay me down to sleep,
    Blah Blah Blah, my soul to keep.
    If I die before I wake,
    I'll go to hell, for heaven's sake!"
  • Ominous Latin Chanting: You'll know that The End of the World as We Know It is coming when you hear the Angel's Choir at the beginning of "Symphony of Destruction"...
  • Prison Rape: Shows up in the last verse of "Captive Honour".
  • Protest Song: "Symphony of Destruction" note , "Countdown to Extinction" note , "Washington is Next!", "Amerikhastan", "Gears of War", etc.
  • Professional Killer / Psycho for Hire: The song "Killing is My Business... And Business is Good!" is about an assassin who promises to come after his employer once he's made his assigned hit.
  • Portmanteau: Youthanasia (Youth+euthanasia, referencing how Dave felt society is filled with "young people turning to drugs, gangs, crime, violence, teenage pregnancy and ultimately suicide whether it's quickly or whether it takes a long period of time").
  • Punctuated! For! Emphasis!: A few Title Drops combine this with Big Word Shout (e.g. "Peace... Sells... But who's buying?", "SWEATING BULLETS!")
  • Technician vs. Performer: Dave versus every guitarist he's ever had. That's saying something, given Dave's own skill. Most of this is due to differences in technique. Dave, a self-taught player usually favors really, really fast solos, more based on aggression and noise, in contrast to the oddball jazz fusion style of Chris Poland, or the clean, melodic playing of Friedman.
    • Vocally, Dave is a performer through and through, self-admittedly. He's never been particularly enthusiastic about singing, and his vocals are more based on the sheer attitude and aggression, with little to none of the vocal tricks or advanced techniques of his contemporaries.
  • The Reason Why You Suck Speech: "Liar" is basically 3 minutes of Dave Mustaine railing against recently departed guitarist Chris Poland, both going after things he actually did (sold band equipment for drug money), as well as scathing attacks on his personality, appearance, lifestyle, family and girlfriend.
  • Rage Against the Heavens: "Elysian Fields".
  • Rated M for Manly: They did a version of Duke Nukem's theme, for Duke's sake!
  • Re-release the Song:
    • "À Tout Le Monde" from Youthanasia was remade as a Soprano and Gravel duet for United Abominations.
    • 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).
  • Rock Star Song: "Rattlehead", "The Killing Road", "Bodies".
  • Russian Roulette: "My Last Words" is about this from the perspective of someone playing it.
  • Sanity Slippage: The subject of "Sweating Bullets"
  • Sampling:
    • "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 Duke's catchphrases from Duke Nukem 3D
    • Samples of actual AK-47 shots and news reports were used in "44 Minutes".
  • Self-Deprecation:
    • 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 "Lucretia".
    • A Vic Rattlehead Chest Burster breaks out of Dave's guts in the cover of The World Needs A Hero (after all, how else to re-welcome the mascot after 11 years and 4 albums without him on the cover?).
  • Sequel Song: "Return to Hangar", to "Hangar 18".
  • 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).
  • Soprano and Gravel: Their remake of "A Tout le Monde" on United Abominations with Cristina Scabbia.
  • Spelling Song: The chorus of "Hook in Mouth":
    "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.
  • Star-Crossed Lovers: The quite sad "Promises".
  • Stop and Go: Heard in "Bad Omen" and "Sleepwalker".
  • Speed Metal: One of the most prominent examples, with a lot of it's early material reaching absurd tempos.
  • Studio Chatter:
    • Nick yells "Eins, zwei, drei, vier!" for the count-in to "Train of Consequences"; this was removed on the remaster.
    • At the end of their cover of "Paranoid":
      [song ends, but drums continue]
      Dave: Nick. Nick! NICK!!! [drums abruptly stop]
      Nick: *almost inaudibly, due to him not having his own mic*!
  • Talking to Themself: The lyrics of "Sweating Bullets" are written to resemble this and says so in the last verse.
    "Well, me, it's nice talking to myself
    A credit to dementia."
  • Talky Bookends: The title track to United Abominations begins and ends with Dave narrating like an anchorman.
  • Three Chords and the Truth... or rather Truth And The Epic Rocking
  • Title Track: Every album except Risk, So Far, So Good... So What! and those listed in Album Title Drop. Even then, there are the variants "Peace Sells" (the full title is a line on the song) and "13" (the album title is not the number itself, but it spelled out as a word).
  • Thrash Metal: As one of the "Big Four", it's a given. Though it's also mixed in with a bigger than average amount of Speed Metal.
  • Uncommon Time: All over the place in some of the band's material. "Five Magics" goes through about five time signature changes in slightly over as many minutes, including segments in 7/4 and 5/4. Rust in Peace in general has a lot of this.
    • Mustaine is really an unorthodox master of odd time signatures, with one of his trademark riff techniques being riffs that are so oddly timed that they blur the line, usually being in 4/4 time, but sounding like something entirely different.
  • Up to Eleven: "Mechanix" vs. "Four Horsemen", basically. They are basically the same song, but Dave, as revenge against Metallica using his riffs, doubled the speed of an already fast song to a blistering 260 bpm.
  • The Vamp: "She-Wolf" is all about one.
  • Very Special Episode: The music video for "99 Ways to Die" is about gun violence against children.
  • War Is Hell: Several songs, including "Holy Wars"note , which is about the senselessness of fighting for religion, and "Take No Prisoners" which is about not only war but the ruin of the soldiers.
  • The X of Y: Without the The, although is implied: "Symphony of Destruction", "Architecture Of Aggression", "Foreclosure of a Dream", "Blood of Heroes", Gears of War...
  • Xtreme Kool Letterz: The song "Mechanix," the album Th1rt3en and hell, even the band name itself.
  • Yandere: The protagonist of "Last Rites/Loved to Deth", who kills a girl so no one else will date her.

    Misc tropes 
  • 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 it can confuse people who don't know Mustaine really thought the band were finished when he wrote those liner notes.
  • Chest Burster: The cover of The World Needs a Hero has Vic Rattlehead performing this out of Dave, to celebrate how he was back in the front after three albums.
  • Creative Differences: What killed the classic line-up after Risk. Marty Friedman was less and less interested in metal, and was far more interested in pop music, moving to Japan and doing J-Pop almost immediately after leaving the band, while Dave Mustaine languished in creating the more commercial music he grew to intensely dislike.
  • Cloud Cuckoo Landers Minder: Ellefson is essentially this for Mustaine, being by his side the entire duration (bar the years they feuded), mostly by virtue of being equally talented, but far, far more down-to-earth.
  • Contemptible Cover: The original Killing Is My Business... cover, as the label lost Mustaine's sketch and recreated with whatever props they could find (both Mustaine and Ellefson expressed contempt, describing it as "a plastic skull covered in ketchup"). It was solved with the 2001 re-release, whose art is closer to Mustaine's idea.
  • Destructive Relationship: Dave infamously had one with a woman named Diana, and some of his most seething, harsh lyrics were directed squarely at her. Famously, "Tornado of Souls" - one of their biggest songs - was written directly following and dealing with their breakup, "Wake Up Dead" is about him cheating on another woman with Diana, and most disturbingly, "Last Rites/Loved To Deth", a song about violently murdering ones partner and meeting them in hell, was also written with her in mind.
  • Doing It for the Art:
    • Gar Samuelson and Chris Poland weren't metalheads in the least, and Poland has gone on record saying he only did Megadeth because the music was equal in complexity to the jazz fusion he loved playing. Post-Megadeth he ended up going back to jazz fusion, despite it not really being a commercially or financially successful genre.
    • Marty Friedman's whole approach. He joined Megadeth because he loved metal, then left and started doing Japanese music when he felt he'd outgrown metal, money be damned.
  • Disability Superpower: Reportedly, Chris Poland severed a tendon in his fretting hand as a youngster, which healed incorrectly, and basically made his left hand twice as flexible - about the best thing imaginable for a guitar shredder.
  • 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).
  • Fiery Redhead: Dave Mustaine. Probably one of the most famous male examples in recent times.
  • Four-Temperament Ensemble:
    • Mustaine: choleric
    • Ellefson: melancholic
    • Kiko: phlegmatic
    • Dirk: sanguine
  • George Lucas Altered Version:
    • The 2004 re-releases of all their prior work count as this, as they went beyond simply remastering and remixing the music and actually re-recorded some some guitar and vocal tracks, as some of the original multitrack master tapes were said to be lost. While they didn't change the songs much, the new versions feature an older Dave. True to the spirit of this trope, the release of the new versions put the originals out of print. However, the original mixes of Rust in Peace and Countdown to Extinction have both been reissued, but are straight remasters from the original mixdowns and not re-mixed.
    • Mustaine however lied about this when it came to remastering the MD.45 album The Craving. He initially said that Lee Ving's vocals and harmonica tracks were lost, hence his addition of his own vocals and guitar, but then years later, said he remixed the album to make it sell better. Fans remain divided as to which tracks work better with Mustaine's vocals and which don't.
  • Hair-Trigger Temper:
    • Dave in his younger days. When combined with heavy drinking he would often turn violent, which infamously resulted in his termination from Metallica.
    • He's also let his temper get the better of him in later years as well, infamously calling out a guitar technician, firing him after a bad night and hurling insults at him on a livestream, which led to some controversy.
  • Chronological Album Title: TH1RT3EN.
  • I Am the Band: Until The World Needs a Hero. Dave Mustaine later took offense to Steven Tyler saying that Mustaine 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 Dave Ellefson's return.
  • Iconic Item: Dave Mustaine is about 99% guaranteed to be seen slinging a Flying V guitar, most notably his signature models from Jackson and later, Dean.
    • Dave is also well known for his double-necked Flying V's. Thought a standard two-neck guitar was too much? Just make it pointier, more metal and throw a bunch of intricate paintjobs on them.
    • David Ellefson is these days mostly seen with a Jackson bass. Either a fairly standard issue one, or his signature "Kellybird", a bizarre mashup of a Gibson Thunderbird bass, and an extra pointy Explorer guitar.
  • Idiosyncratic Cover Art: The 2004 re-release/remastering of their catalog has mascot Vic Rattlehead on the albums' spines.
  • Metal Band 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."
  • Monster Mash: On Halloween 2013, the band performed in Hollywood for Jimmy Kimmel dressed as classic monsters. Mustaine was Frankenstein's Monster (possibly because it allows to hide his hair...), David Ellefson the Wolf Man, Chris Broderick The Phantom of the Opera, and Shawn Drover was Dracula. (the "Donkey Kong" in the picture is Kimmel himself).
  • Messy Hair: Marty Friedman. Regardless of how hairstyle it always seems to end up really, really curly.
  • Ninja Pirate Zombie Robot: Vic's been depicted as various things, from a general to a Cyborg assassin.
  • No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: The music video for "Head Crusher" is based around a wrestling tournament in which skilled fighters beat up prisoners.
  • Name's the Same: Dave Mustaine and Dave "Junior" Ellefson.
  • Remaster:
    • Mustaine remixed and remastered all of the albums from Killing Is My Business... through Risk while he was recovering from his arm injury.
    • Killing Is My Business... was remixed and remastered again in 2018 by Mark Lewis and Ted Jensen for the "The Final Kill" release.
  • The Power of Rock: In a episode of Duck Dodgers, Megadeth successfully fought off a Martian invasion by performing the song "Back in the Day". Dave Mustaine had a modified electric guitar that shot laser beams at space ships.
  • Put on a Bus: Literally the way Dave Mustaine was expelled from Metallica.
  • Rags to Riches: Dave. He went from having to sell drugs as a teenager... to being in Metallica... to being kicked out and working as a telemarketer... to being one of the biggest names in all of metal.
    • Really applies to most of the classic era band members. Ellefson was a teenager basically surviving off his parents living back in Minnesota, Marty Friedman was borderline homeless and could barely afford clean clothes. Dave worked shitty jobs and couch surfed until Peace Sells. Chris Poland and Gar Samuelson were heroin addicts playing in a jazz fusion band to tiny crowds.
  • 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. In total, 20 different musicians have been members of Megadeth over the years.
  • The Rival: Metallica was clearly this for Mustaine. Not anymore though.
  • Sir Swears-a-Lot: Dave - both in songs and on stage, especially on stage.
  • Singing Voice Dissonance: Dave Mustaine is a tall, rather muscled fellow with the "classic" metal style - who just happens to have the singing voice of an enraged cartoon duck.
  • "Sesame Street" Cred: Mustaine guest-starred in Duck Dodgers.
  • Start My Own: Mustaine's reason about why he started Megadeth. It was after he was fired from Metallica due to his alcohol problems. Various former members have also done this; Greg Handevidt formed Kublai Khan (not to be confused with the hardcore group of the same name), Chris Poland has had various projects over the years (the jazz fusion act Ohm probably being the most famous), Gar Samuelson started the progressive thrash group Fatal Opera with his brother, and both Chris Broderick and Shawn Drover started the thrash / melodic death metal group Act of Defiance.
  • Up to Eleven: Dave's original plan with Megadeth. Take his work in Metallica, make it faster, heavier and throw in as many solos as humanly possible. Though pretty quickly it became a well-nuanced band in its own right.
  • Take That!:
    • 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".
  • Thinly-Veiled Dub Country Change: Their cover of "Anarchy in the UK", despite leaving the title the same, changes all mentions of the UK to the USA. However, almost none of the other lyrics are rewritten to reflect this, making the references to very British political issues like the IRA feel very out of place.
  • We Used to Be Friends: Basically Dave with anybody who was in the band in the past. In particular:
    • Dave Ellefson, who was there from the start. After being in the band from start to its brief ending in 2003 he was apparently offered a bad deal, which ended up with both Daves hurling lawsuits at each other. Apparently, although Ellefson is back in the band, he is just an employee this time round.
    • Dave viciously hated Chris Poland for a fair amount of time after firing him, though for an understandable reason; Poland sold Mustaine and Ellefson's guitar gear, stuff worth a lot of money, and practically invaluable today, for drug money.
    • Dave's also on bad terms with Marty Friedman, having insulted his playing ability as well has Friedman's projects after his move to Japan...not that Marty seems all that bothered.
    • Nick Menza and Dave had a huge falling out in the late 90's. The subsequent bad blood remained long enough for Mustaine to be banned from attending Menza's funeral, which took place close to twenty years after Menza left Megadeth.
    • Finally, and most famously - Metallica. Given the circumstances of the firing, Dave spared no expense in trying to ruin them for many years, and was infamously hostile in interviews, and reportedly in-person for over a decade. During the infamous therapy scene involving him and Lars, he invokes this word for word, even. He did, however make peace with Cliff Burton after the latter's death, and thankfully is on decent terms with the rest of the band, minor potshots not withstanding.


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