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Dad: "I want to watch 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 episode "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 suffered from poor production and inconsistent material, including a cover of the Sex Pistols' "Anarchy in the U.K.".
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 disastrous 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 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.
The band are famous for their musical skills, extended songs, and sociopolitical sensibilities expressed in the lyrics, especially during their "classic" period (1985-1994). 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.
- Dave Mustaine - guitar, vocals, 1983-present (classic lineup)
- Chris Broderick - guitar, backing vocals, 2008-present
- David Ellefson - bass, backing vocals, 1984-2002, 2010-present (classic lineup)
- Shawn Drover - drums, 2004-present
- Gar Samuelson - drums, backing vocals, 1984-1988
- Chris Poland - guitar, backing vocals, 1985-1988, 1989 (Rust In Peace demo session only), 2004 (The System Has Failed session only)
- Jeff Young - guitar, backing vocals, 1987-1989
- Chuck Behler - drums, backing vocals 1987-1989
- Marty Friedman - guitar, backing vocals, 1989-2000 (classic 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
- 1994: Youthanasia
- 1995: Hidden Treasures EP
- 1997: Cryptic Writings
- 1999: Risk
- 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.
- 2004: The System Has Failed
- 2007: United Abominations
- 2009: Endgame
- 2011: TH1RT3EN
Megadeth shows examples of:
- Accentuate the Negative: Dave has the honor of being one of the few people who to have had an article on Wikipedia about people he hates.
- 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.
- Badass Long Hair: Dave.
- Conspiracy Theorist: Dave, as early as his 1988 interview ranting about building a wall across the border to keep "fucking Mexicans" out of the USA and his incoherent explanation for "Psychotron" (he claimed it was something related to Russian experiments, something called a "Lida machine" and Jimmy Carter; the linked fansite shot back that "Dave has been watching too many episodes of The X-Files."), and a bit more pronounced lately with his ranting about the United Nations on United Abominations (to the point that a UN worker made a post calling bullshit on the lyrics' accusations), naming Endgame after an Alex Jones movie, being a birther, and so on.
- Flat What: 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.
- 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.
- Heteronormative Crusader: Dave is on record in a 1988 interview supporting the UK's Section 28 policy, saying that the last thing he needs is "a bunch of homos picketing us" in response to a question about Judas Priest, and in 2012 declared he was against gay marriage.
- Heterosexual Life Partners: Mustaine and Ellefson... at least when they didn't want to kill each other. Ellefson rejoined the band in 2010.
- Hypocritical Humor: Dave Mustaine dismissing the political ranting of Al Jourgensen due to having a "legendary drug problem." He would know.
- 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.
- I Was Quite a Looker: This is Dave in his young years.
- Jerkass / Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Dave.
- Manly Tears: Dave did this after playing "I'll Be There" on That One Night: Live In Buenos Aires. The bootleg of that show also has more moments like this.
- One of Us: Dave is a fan of Gigantor to the point of naming his music festival, Gigantour, after it.
- Real Men Love Jesus: Dave Mustaine and Dave Ellefson are now Christians.
- Red Headed Something: Dave.
- 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.
- Age Progression Song: "Of Mice and Men", from The System Has Failed.
- Album Title Drop: Every album except So Far... and Risk has had one song that does this.
- Anti-Love Song: Megadeth mostly focused on politics and other stuff 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
- "The Hardest Part Of Letting Go...Sealed With A Kiss", from Endgame.
- Arc Number: Thirteen for... well, TH1RT3EN.
- Audience Participation Song: MEGADETH!!! MEGADETH!!! AGUANTE MEGADETH!!
- Ax Crazy: "Black Friday"
- Bawdy Song: The original "The Mechanix". Metallica slowed it down a little, changed the lyrics and a bridge, and made it into "The Four Horsemen".
- 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.
- 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 ****-like tendencies"). The original was actually much cleaner ("Another council tenancy").
- 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
Justice means nothing today
- And finally, Endgame is explained in its title track, like Youthanasia above:
A system of controlled movement, like a giant ant farm
- Cover Version and Rearrange the Song: Any song they cover, they make it thrash metal, and it's awesome.
- "These Boots" (Killing is My Business...)
- "I Ain't Superstitious" (Peace Sells...)
- "Anarchy in the U.K." (So Far, So Good... So What?) and "Problems" (B-side to A Tout Le Monde)
- "No More Mr. Nice Guy" (soundtrack to Shocker)
- "Paranoid" (Nativity in Black volume 1) and "Never Say Die" (Nativity in Black volume 2)
- "Out On The Tiles" (bonus track in United Abominations)
- "Grabbag", a.k.a. the Duke Nukem 3D theme. (bonus track in Risk and Duke Nukem: Music To Score By)
- "Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer" for an all-metal Christmas album. It's as epic as you think.
- Creator Backlash: Dave says he doesn't like Risk too much, but he still thinks it's a good "pop album" (whatever that means).
- Did You Think I Can't Feel?: The lyrics of "When" express this.
- Drugs Are Bad: "Burnt Ice", from United Abominations is about drug addiction, most likely meth. "Poison Was the Cure", "Addicted to Chaos" and "Use the Man" are other examples.
- Epic Rocking: "When", from The World Needs A Hero lasts 9:13.
- 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:
- Fading Into the Next Song: "Dialectic Chaos" into "This Day We Fight!", from Endgame.
- Famous Last Words: "À Tout Le Monde" is a hypothetical version, as clarified by Dave in an interview.
- Funetik Aksent (or Heavy Metal Spelling).
- Gorn: "Black Friday", about a Serial Killer who...really gets into his work.
- Gratuitous French Phrases: 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).
- 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.
- Instrumentals: "Duke Nukem Theme", "Dialectic Chaos" (from Endgame) and "Into The Lungs Of Hell". (From So Far, So Good, So What?)
- The Jimmy Hart Version: It's been said that one of "Washington Is Next!"'s first riffs, and "Back In The Day", were inspired by "Wasted Years" and "2 Minutes To Midnight".
- Just Before the End:
- "Set the World Afire", from So Far....
- "Countdown To Extinction" and "Symphony of Destruction", from Countdown To Extinction.
- "How the Story Ends", from Endgame.
- 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). That's exactly what it sounds like.
- 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 would generally be a 7. 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 drop up to 8. Endgame, however, returns to the mostly 8 songs.
- 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",
- Murder Ballad: "Captive Honour"
- NameTron: "Psychotron"
- New Sound Album: Most notably is Risk and perhaps Countdown to Extinction
- 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 and two songs from United Abominations.
- 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...
- Opening Chorus: 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"...
- Parental Incest: "Family Tree".
- Protest Song: "Symphony of Destruction", "Countdown To Extinction", "Washington Is Next!", "Amerikhastan", "Gears of War", etc.
- Rage Against the Heavens: "Elysian Fields"
- Rated "M" for Manly: They did a version of Duke Nukem's theme, for Duke's sake!'
- Rerelease the Song: "À Tout Le Monde" from Youthanasia was remade as a Soprano and Gravel duet for United Abominations.
- Several on TH 1 RT 3 EN: "Sudden Death" (originally recorded for Guitar Hero 6 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).
- Rockstar Song: "Rattlehead", "The Killing Road", "Bodies"
- Russian Roulette: "My Last Words".
- "Use the Man" begins with an excerpt from The Searchers' "Needles and Pins" (this only appeared in the original, however).
- 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.
- Soprano and Gravel: Their remake of "A Tout le Monde" on United Abominations with Cristina Scabbia.
- Take That:
- 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 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.
- "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 Executive Meddling producer:
Unlike you I'm no vision to myself, lest you forget
- Spoken Word in Music: The famous "Read my lips" quote by George HW 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.
- Talking to Themself: The lyrics of "Sweating Bullets" are written to resemble this.
- Talky Bookends: The title track to United Abominations begins and ends with Dave narrating like an anchorman.
- This Trope Is Bleep: 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"?
- Three Chords and the Truth... or rather Truth And The Epic Rocking: The best Megadeth albums avert this, namely Peace Sells..., Rust In Peace, and Endgame.
- 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... The Punishment Due" and "Take No Prisoners."
- Xtreme Kool Letterz: The song "Mechanix," the album Th1rt3en and hell, even the band name itself.
- Executive Meddling:
- Bud Prager. Responsible along with Mustaine for making Risk.
- The cover of "These Boots" on Killing Is My Business... was removed from pressings of the original master released after 1995 after the song's original writer threatened legal action. For the remaster, Megadeth was allowed to use "These Boots"...but they couldn't use the Megadeth version. Thus, they recorded it with the original lyrics, and then Sound Effect Bleeped all the lyrics that were changed in the original cover. Dave wasn't happy about any of this, and made that very clear in the liner notes and in his autobiography. Fortunately, the original version is quite widely available amongst fans.
- 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.
- A Good Name for a Rock Band: "Megadeath" was a term coined in 1953 by RAND military strategist Herman Kahn to describe one million deaths in the event of thermonuclear war. So good, in fact, that Pink Floyd considered having that name years before Mustaine was kicked off Metallica.
- Chronological Album Title: TH1RT3EN.
- Mascot: The skeletal Vic Rattlehead.
- 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.
- Take That:
- 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.
- 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.