Rust in Peace – Megadeth

This is an incredible album. “Holy Wars… The Punishment Due” is a legendary song for good reason, with the greatest eight measures of guitar ever written at 4:21, perfect riffs throughout the whole song that perfectly fit the groove and establish the song’s harmonic choices, and some really cool thrash hemiola in the ending riff. “Hangar 18” is also an awesome jam for that fast guitar and superb percussion groove over those pop chords and for the well-executed tempo change and the awesome solo after it, and “Tornado of Souls” boasts an insanely powerful riff that compels headbanging. A lot of the guitar work on the album uses a lot of cool scales that I associate more with baroque work; there’s a lot of guitar on this album (say, the riff at 2:20 of “Five Magics” or the riff at 3:14 of “Take No Prisoners”) that we could compare to Muse’s “Plug In Baby” or Avenged Sevenfold’s “Burn It Down”, but this works much better than either of those because Megadeth’s harmonic palette fits with that stuff. I’m not going to analyze any of the mode mixture on this album because it’s not odd for Megadeth to do something that other bands would rarely do, like throwing in a Phrygian second, playing a clashing major scale in a minor song, or going chromatic. The percussion on this album is strong, accentuating exactly the right beats and falling out exactly when you’d want it to; a highlight for the drummer is “Rust in Peace…Polaris”, which opens on a fun fast drum beat and continues through cool triplet riffs. Megadeth’s political commentary based in righteous anger at the military industrial complex also creates engaging lyrics, and it’s cool to have a thrash metal protest song against defense spending. I’m surprised we don’t listen to “Lucretia” more for its brilliant bright riff and uncompromising chugging rhythm, but I’m glad this album is remembered as such a classic.

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