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Grandfathers of Thrash Metal: Megadeth Not Slowing Down

Megadeth continues to rock after nearly three decades of thrash metal mayhem Megadeth continues to rock after nearly three decades of thrash metal mayhem

Even though their fan base is now composed primarily of people half their age, thrash metal pioneers Megadeth show no signs of retiring any time soon. The band is one of the “big four” of thrash metal, along with Anthrax, Slayer, and Metallica, and remain as relevant today as they ever were.

The music industry is changing, and as the landscape lends itself less and less to one hit wonders, blue collar stalwarts like those found in heavy metal are thriving more than ever. Like most metal acts, Megadeth has never been at the top of any mainstream radio playlist. Yet the band has sold millions of albums, including a string of five consecutive platinum albums, followed up by a sixth that went gold.

Even though the days of Megadeth achieving those kinds of numbers are long since past, the group remains one of only a handful of acts in the pop culture landscape that headlines tours of arenas around the world. After all, record sales of all kinds are down. Most bands need to be able to support their cases on stage if they hope to survive.

Megadeth was formed by ex-Metallica guitarist Dave Mustaine following his expulsion from that band in 1983. Mustaine sought to create a more technical form of thrash metal than his contemporaries were practicing.

Thrash itself was already esoteric because of its aggressive edge, fast pace, and minimalist or absent vocal melodies. Mustaine drew from the influence of jazz and jazz-fusion to create something that for most listeners was even more of a challenge.

But what started out as an underground movement soon caught fire, and Megadeth has ridden that momentum to a career spanning nearly three decades. Later permutations saw the band become more mainstream, and draw from a more traditional rock influence, a move that didn’t hurt their popularity. But even still, Megadeth remains a metal band first, which is probably why so much of their fanbase has stayed loyal.

In 2010, Megadeth continues to be one of North America’s biggest live draws, and releases new recordings regularly. In fact, the band’s last two albums, 2007’s United Abominations and 2009’s Endgame both charted in the Top 10. Both continued Mustaine’s long running lyrical themes, which take a critical look at American politics, and in particular the U.S.’s military-industrial complex, among other subjects.

The band responsible for such legendary heavy metal albums as Peace Sells… But Who’s Buying? and Rust in Peace is one of the few groups of the ‘80s to have delivered consistently high-quality rock n’ roll despite the number of fleeting trends that have derailed most of Megadeth’s peers. Dave Mustaine has stayed true to his vision, and despite a rotating cast of supporting band members, never lost his ability to rock with integrity. Clearly the world needs Megadeth now as much as it ever did.

by Harold Lawrence
© Copyright RosebudMag.com, 2010

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Last modified on Tuesday, 12 April 2011 14:17

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