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Archive for the ‘Megadeth’ Category
Last month we dove deep to explore the importance of cover artwork, namely through our analysis of two excellent pieces of artwork adorning the latest Caligula’s Horse records. This time we take a closer look at the covers of thrash titans Megadeth , starting with 1986’s iconic Peace Sells… but Who’s Buying? Given its political nature, context is crucial to understanding the artwork and it was created during the latter stages of the Cold War, amidst escalated tensions between the world’s two foremost superpowers of the time, the USA and the Soviet Union/USSR. The world in this period of history was, at times, on the brink of a nuclear third world war, and it was only knowledge that such a cataclysmic event would bring about the Mutually Assured Destruction of both sides which prevented such horrors from occurring. Unfortunately, in the world of Megadeth, that appears to be exactly what has eventuated. Their undead mascot, Vic Rattlehead, stands before a United Nations headquarters lying in ruins, the shades of red and blue depicting a sky ablaze, fires raging in the background. The scene is reminiscent of a nuclear holocaust as three military jets fly menacingly towards the foreground, seemingly scanning the area for any remaining targets, any last vestiges of life. Such themes are undeniably heavy and unsettling in nature, so it should come as no surprise that similarly unsettling motifs have been woven into the record’s music and lyrics as well. ? (Illustrator: Ed Repka) The obvious starting point to our analysis is the all-time classic ‘Peace Sells’. The track emphatically states that peace is nothing more than a commodity, an item which can be easily traded, bought or sold. It is not some idealistic notion to be strived for, but an easily attainable state of the world which the world’s powers manipulate for their own gains. The UN was created following World War II, to bring peace and prevent such atrocities from reoccurring, yet it was powerless to prevent the numerous proxy wars which occurred throughout the Cold War in Asia, the Middle East, South America and elsewhere. Ironically, rather than bringing about peace of any kind, the UN merely served as another theatre of war, this time a political one, in which the antagonistic forces of the US and USSR could engage with one another. The UN headquarters have been annihilated in the illustration, yet that doesn’t stop Vic, dressed as a real estate agent, from looking to sell what’s left of it. One might argue that this would be a tough sell, that Vic is as likely to find a buyer for the rubble as the UN was to find a buyer for world peace. Further still, the fact the UN is on the market at all suggests that, despite its ruined state, it will be just as (in)effective as ever, and thus it still constitutes a legitimate commodity. Looking more broadly at the themes prevalent within the artwork, there are a host of other comparisons to be made. In particular we can cast our minds to the numerous tracks dealing with the occult, beginning with the eerie fan favourite ‘The Conjuring’. Thematically, the war ravaged landscape and grim colour scheme can be seen to represent hell on earth, tying in nicely with the song’s descriptions of satanic rituals and black magic. The song’s portrayal of the devil’s salesman selling yet another abstract commodity, this time the human soul, is further embodied by the figure of Vic, an interesting allegory to his purported sale of a soulless, in every sense of the word, UN. Musically, with the help of the similarly occult ‘Bad Omen’, the homicidal ‘Good Mourning/Black Friday’, the torturous ‘Devil’s Island’ and others, the album as a whole does a fantastic job of providing the illustration with a suitably ominous, disconcerting and sinister soundtrack. Fast forward eight years and Megadeth had just released the polarising Youthanasia . Like its 1992 predecessor Countdown to Extinction , the album continued Megadeth’s transition from the lightning fast thrash which comprised their first four records, to a slower, more commercially viable sound. This radio-friendly approach, with Mustaine seeking that elusive No. 1 ranking on the charts, also saw a shift in the album artwork of the band. The undead Vic Rattlehead was no longer a permanent fixture, whilst this particular cover featured luscious, rolling green hills and cute, innocent babies, images generally associated with nature, peace and positivity. However, it’s crucial to point out that whilst their shift in sound had changed the method of their delivery, their message remained the same. Megadeth still wrote politically abrasive and, at times, downright aggressive songs, only now they were catchier, reaching a wider audience and allowing them to have a greater voice than ever before. This same duality applied to their artwork as well, the youth of their times, symbolised by the babies, being hung out to dry by the older generation, powerless to avoid the oncoming storm. (Illustrator: Hugh Syme) The result is arguably the most shocking Megadeth cover to date, as Mustaine issued a rallying cry, a call of arms for the youth of the ‘90s to take action and free themselves from the status quo. The dark, brooding clouds take up more than half of the image, highlighting the sheer scale of oppression to which the youth have been subjected. Furthermore, there is a seemingly endless line of babies being hung, yet there is only one elderly figure placing them there, suggesting that the oppressed far outnumber their oppressors, and that there is victory to be had in unity. Finally, the imminent storm is itself duplicitous: on the one hand, if nothing is done it will simply decimate the defenceless babies hanging limply from the clothesline; on the other hand, the revolution which Mustaine calls for will see a raging storm engulf society when the opposing factions collide. Thus, the cover of Youthanasia perfectly encapsulates the lyrics and music to be found within, just like the cover of Peace Sells… before it, as Megadeth and their collaborators prove to be yet another gift to artwork. -KD
Singled Out is our weekly column to round-up the singles and new tracks from the past week dropped by bands we cover. Consider this our weekly mix to help keep you all on top of the latest releases from across the metallic and progressive spectrums. Read past entries here , and go on ahead below to get Singled Out! Coheed and Cambria – “Eraser” Coheed’s use of a chunky, hyper-distorted guitar tone and their trademark enthusiasm are in full swing here. The “Gravity’s Union”-esque tone in the intro quickly gives way to Claudio Sanchez’s trademarked high-pitched croon and a chorus that shows off the band at their jangliest and most poppy. Despite the defiantly malign undertone, the upbeat drive of this track is incredibly hard to resist; it’s hard to resist a smile when listening to “Eraser”. The whole song reeks of the band’s typical sickly-sweet vibe, the tangy tones of modern alternative rock splashed with the emotive and lush sound of Mars Volta-style prog. It’s a potent combination, and it’s served the band well in the past. We’ll see how it serves them on The Color Before The Sun come October 16th, but seeing as this is Coheed, I can guarantee it’ll be somewhere between amazing and fucking godly. -Simon Handmaker Driftoff – “Dying Light” We’ve often been highly skeptical of supergroups on this blog. That’s why it’s refreshing to hear a collaboration between giants of a certain sub-genre sound so damn cohesive and self-aware. Driftoff combines talent from Junius , Rosetta and City of Ships , all names that are downright seminal in their own fields. The first taste of this heady brew is “Dying Light” and it’s a perfect introduction into the post-punk/hardcore that is Driftoff’s measure. Let us skip over the obviously delicious guitars and drums and focus on the vocals. Put briefly, they are outstanding. Merging the two different styles that are most often heard in this sort of music, they draw on both harsher, raspier sounds that hark to mother-band Rosetta while the more emotional vocals are firmly grounded in the history of the scene. Long story short, this is both new and traditional, fresh and yet wholly recognizable. Get excited for this release. -Eden Kupermintz The Faceless – “The Spiraling Void” After a period of silence and line-up shuffles, out of nowhere, The Faceless are back! As one of the more visible and accessible bands in technical death metal, them putting out new music is always worth watching. This time, they’re back with The Spiraling Void , and it’s such a warm, welcoming feeling to hear the trademark Michael Keene riffing again. Going back to elements of their older sounds and retooling them to create this new tune, the band sound reinvigorated. They’ve brought back the slight Cynic influence from Akeldama , and the more progressive leaning sound from Autotheism ; and the end result is something instantly recognizable as The Faceless. Original singer Derek Rydquist is back, and Justin McKinney of The Zenith Passage is now also on guitar duties. It makes a lot of sense to have Justin on board, as his band is also influenced in turn by The Faceless. Michael Keene’s vocoder cleans from Akeldama are back, the extended solo sections over arpeggios from Autotheism are back, and Planetary Duality ‘s riff style is all over. Basically, The Faceless are back in full force. While they haven’t officially announced a new album, they’re touring with new material so this can only mean one thing. We’ll get our faces shredded off. -Noyan Tokgozoglu Megadeth – “Fatal Illusion” When the years go by and the dust settles, there will be many questions asked about our times: why were there so many wars? Why did it take them so long to go to space? Space is freaking awesome! One of these questions will undoubtedly be: why did Megadeth make more than two or three albums? They clearly ran out of ideas years before they finally took a bow. Don’t believe me that this will be the case? All you need to be convinced is to listen to “Fatal Illusion”, given that the track name itself hasn’t put you to sleep already. If the soporific name wasn’t enough, one listen to the track should be. It has zero new ideas: the guitars are all where you expect them, the pointless shredding follows and above it all is crowned the voice of the man, the ego, the washed out, Dave Mustaine. That is, if you can find it below all the effects and layers they’ve put on it to hide the fact that the man just can’t sing any more. To be sure, he surrounds himself with talented musicians, he always has, but as always he completely under utilizes them. Whatever shine this man’s name once had has disappeared, the glamor is gone and all that’s left is a boring rivet in the already collapsing machine that is “old school thrash”. -Eden Kupermintz Mestis – “Pura Vida” Javier Reyes is rather underrated, but I guess that can happen when you’re the second guitarist in a band where the primary guitarist is one of the most famed one of recent years. This should only be a testament to Javier himself though, as it means he’s up to par. His solo project Mestis had an EP a few years ago, and it was just delightful. Combining Latin and jazz elements with the groovier aspects of the Animals As Leaders sound, the record left many wanting for more. Well, fret not (pun intended), as there’s new Mestis material! It’s still chock full of that relaxing-yet-engaging sound. For “Pura Vida,” Javier has recruited Mario and Erick from fellow guitar-and-chill band Chon , and the combination works well. The track is a bit more mellow and melancholic than the Mestis usual (though admittedly we have a very small sample size to discern the Mestis sound), but that is most likely due to the Chon influence. Either way, this makes us only more excited for Polysemy , the next Mestis outing, which is coming out on the 6th of November. -Noyan Tokgozoglu Revenge – “Wolf Slave Protocol” As I mentioned in my Starter Kit for Bestial Black Metal , Canadian-based Revenge are not only my personal favorite band in the subgenre, but the current poster-boys for anyone wishing to point out why the style is so viciously primal in the best way possible. As the band gears up for their latest, Hemingway-esque titled album Behold.Total.Rejection , they have released the savagely titled lead single “Wolf Slave Protocol (Choose Your Side),” and while claiming that a band is going through the motions may seem like a critique, in the case of Revenge, “going the motions” translates to eviscerating everyone in a one-inch radius. Every instrument blares in a flurry of sound and aggression that initially startles and then commands complete attention. People can may question the quality of this single and Revenge in general, and that is ok; we are all allowed to be wrong about some things. But not a single person can dispute the fact that Revenge is one of the most sonically violent band operating today, and this single both proves that assertion and should stoke anyone keen to truly abrasive metal. -Scott Murphy
Megadeth have issued the tracklist for their 15th album – but not the record’s title. Blabbermouth report that mainman Dave Mustaine revealed the news to members of the band’s fan club, the Cyber Army. He’d already revealed that the follow-up to 2013’s Super Collider includes covers of Budgie’s Melt The Ice Away and Fear’s Foreign Policy along with 13 new […]
As the metal world continues to deal with the shocking news of Lamb of God singer Randy Blythe being jailed earlier this week on suspicion of manslaughter involving a fan death in Prague, there’s now slow motion video footage that’s surfaced of the alleged 2010 incident. It had previously been stated that the fan had tried unsuccessfully twice […]
Full concert live at Copenhagen, Metallica