The back-story of Megadeth’s debut album, released in 1985, is possibly even greater than the impact that the album itself would go on to have. Possibly. For this is a damn fine and damn influential album. Fired and wired, Dave Mustaine set out to make a faster, more technically proficient, and a better album than anything his former employers Metallica had done. He was also hell-bent on proving them wrong in their assertions that he was too hampered by his vices to perform his six-string duties. And perform his six-string duties he did, indeed. However, his and band’s mass consumption of alcohol and other less-than-legal substances put such a dent in the budget of the recording of the album that the producer was fired, and the band produced the record themselves. The results were, aurally, insufficient – even with added funds to try and save the recordings.
BUT (and it’s capitalized because it is a big old but…), regardless of the quality of the recording, the thing that really mattered about Megadeth’s first release, out at the time on Combat Records, is that the songs were, really, quite magnificent: furious, belligerent, unrestrained and punky, here were eight tracks of technical Thrash perfection, a flurry of a whirlwind of metallic punches.
So, if ever an album was in need of a remix and remaster, and a sonic polish, it was this. Previously reissued to a mixed response by Loud Records in 2002, Megadeth have, with Killing Is My Business… And Business Is Good: The Final Kill (Century Media), finally been able to pull together the (near… our boots will get to that shortly) definitive version of their vitriolic introduction.
And what an introduction it was…
Once the opening piano strains of the iconic ‘Last Rites’ (Bach’s ‘Toccata and Fugue in D Minor’) give way to the first riff of the album, ‘Loved to Deth’, the clarity and boost given to the tearing out of control, flailing, wiry, metallic, riffage that careers by like General Grievous with extra limbs twirling a multitude of lightsabres is welcome indeed. And if the splash and crash of the drum hardware is still a little beyond repair on the opener, by the time the title track hurtles in at track two, even these flaws have been restored, and the album enjoys a sound that presents the extraordinary guitar-work in a manner it deserves. While maintaining a punked up vibe, it’s easy to forget how frenetic and wild some of the playing is, with Mustaine’s fingers flying up and down the strings and fretboard, like a rotating Rolodex of fingers.
Minor gripe about ‘These Boots’ aside (Mustaine’s recut vocals featuring the original Nancy Sinatra lyrics work better than the censored one that adorned the previous reissue, though his weathered tones come up slightly short compared to the naïve, unfettered voice that spits out the rest of the album…), the seven original songs have clearly stood the test of time and remain up there with some of Megadeth’s best work; a maniacal collection of febrile, chaotic, technically superb Thrash metal now displaying a reinforced guitar tone that adds heft without cluttering out the flurry or tightness within. Hearing ‘Looking Down The Cross’ set free, heavy, tight, complete, is a joy. These masterpieces are aided and abetted by venomous near-thirty year old live versions of the album’s tracks (of varying sound quality, having been restored from VHS copies) and the original demo that secured the band their first deal, to complete what is the best all-round version of this genuine, bone fide classic metal album that you’re going to get.