Sunday, May 8, 2011

Megadeth- Killing is My Business ... and Business is Good! (1985)

Was there ever a cooler band than the early Megadeth? Featuring the ultimate regressive-personality alcoholic as mumbly lead singer, plus artwork transparently ripped off from Iron Maiden, these disorientingly and over-abundantly talented musicians never seemed remotely comfortable making this blazingly fast, coke-fueled thrash metal. The whole project is itchy and nervous, motivated by a thwarted megalomania (and coke).

If Metallica is a studied synthesis of NWOBHM and hardcore punk, Megadeth is the absurdly technical and paranoid rejoinder, drawing on jazz fusion while paradoxically playing much faster and more aggressively for all that. It is the quintessential music by and for assholes.

Let's not forget that only one band can ever be called "MEGADETH." How cool is that?

Anyways, this is the first album from these maniacs. It isn't at all "stadium-friendly" or anthemic. It is literally just a series of shredding guitar solos and churning riffs, played as fast as possible. The vocals are a disaster, the Nancy Sinatra cover is almost the longest song (not a good sign!), and the sound is kind of bad... but the riffs never stop coming, and the rhythm section is startlingly fluid and prominent.

At times the music can be quite opaque, especially as Mustaine's vocals show little interest in melody... and then within the same song (as on "Killing is My Business" and "Looking Down the Cross") they will burst into catchy daylight before disappearing again.

Most of all, this record feels rushed in every way. Not only played fast, but composed hurriedly, recorded virtually live, and with album artwork improvised by the record label. In the end, that is both its defining character and charm, and a liability. (It's obviously not a classic on par with the Metallica masterworks, which are much more deliberate and self-conscious.) I don't normally curse on this blog, but the main effect of Megadeth's debut is that it is a "nasty little fucker."

Rating: 4/5 (****)

Best songs: "Rattlehead," "Chosen Ones," "Mechanix"