Megadeth is an American heavy metal band from Los Angeles, California, formed in 1983. Founded by guitarist/vocalist Dave Mustaine and bassist David Ellefson following Mustaine's departure from Metallica, the band has since released 12 studio albums, three live albums, two EPs, 26 singles, 32 music videos, four compilations and one box set. As a pioneer of the American thrash metal movement, Megadeth rose to international fame in the 1980s and was ranked as one of the "Big Four of Thrash," along with Metallica, Slayer, and Anthrax, who were responsible for creating, developing and popularizing the thrash metal sub-genre.
Megadeth has experienced numerous line-up changes, due partly to the band's notorious substance abuse problems. From 1983 to 2002 — and as of February 8, 2010 — Mustaine and Ellefson are the only original members of the band, with Mustaine being the only constant member. After finding sobriety and securing a stable line-up, Megadeth went on to release a string of platinum and gold albums, including the platinum-selling landmark Rust in Peace in 1990 and the Grammy nominated, multi-platinum Countdown to Extinction in 1992.
Megadeth disbanded in 2002 after Mustaine suffered a severe nerve injury to his left arm. However, following extensive physical therapy, Mustaine reformed the band in 2004 and released The System Has Failed, followed by United Abominations in 2007; the albums debuted on the Billboard Top 200 chart at #18 and #8, respectively. Megadeth, along with their new lead guitarist Chris Broderick, released their twelfth studio album, titled Endgame, on September 15, 2009, which debuted at #9 on the Billboard 200, marking Megadeth's fifth top 10 album.
In the band's 25 active years, there have been over 20 individuals that have all officially been a part of the group at different times, with Dave Mustaine and David Ellefson being the only original members. Megadeth is known for its distinctive, technical instrumental style, often featuring dense, intricate passages and trade offguitar solos, as well as for Mustaine's recurring lyrical themes including politics, war, addiction, personal relationships and religious themes. Megadeth has sold over 25 million albums worldwide, with five consecutive albums being certified platinum or multi-platinum in the USA. The band has also been nominated nine consecutive times for Best Metal Performance.
Early days (1983–1984)
Two months after lead guitarist Dave Mustaine was fired from Metallica due to drinking, drug use, violent behavior and personality conflicts with James Hetfield and Lars Ulrich Mustaine and bassist Dave Ellefson formed Megadeth in Los Angeles. Mustaine later said, "After getting fired from Metallica, all I remember is that I wanted blood. Theirs. I wanted to be faster and heavier than them."
According to Mustaine, the name "Megadeth represents the annihilation of power. We spell the name phonetically because the meaning to us is the same as you get out of the dictionary; it's hypothetical body count after a nuclear fallout. It's a million deaths, and we want to leave our audience shell-shocked wherever we go." Fueled by the desire for revenge, Mustaine elevated the intensity of Megadeth's music, speeding up existing songs such as "Mechanix," which Metallica's new line-up adapted into the slower paced "The Four Horsemen." After unsuccessfully searching for a vocalist for nearly six months, Mustaine decided to handle lead vocal duties himself, while also serving as the band's primary lyricist, main songwriter, and co-lead and rhythm guitarist.
Early in 1984 Megadeth recorded a three song demo, the so-called 1984 Demo, featuring Mustaine, Ellefson, and Rausch, which contained early versions of "Last Rites/Loved to Death," "Skull Beneath the Skin" and "Mechanix." Kerry King (of Slayer fame), covered a handful of live dates while the band sought a permanent replacement. After just a few shows in 1984, Lee Rausch was replaced by fusion drummer Gar Samuelson. On the strength of their three song demo, Megadeth signed with the New York based independent label Combat Records, and in December added second guitarist Chris Poland, a friend of Gar's from the fusion scene.
Killing Is My Business... and Business Is Good! (1985–1986)
Early in 1985, the band was given $8,000 by Combat Records to record and produce their debut album. However, after spending half of the album's budget on drugs, alcohol, and food the band was forced to fire their original producer and produce the album themselves. Despite the resulting poor production, Killing Is My Business... and Business Is Good!, released in May 1985, was a well-received effort that blended elements of thrash, and speed metal.
The album features the first of many cover songs performed by Megadeth; a speed metal version of Nancy Sinatra's classic "These Boots Are Made for Walkin'", with lyrics altered by Mustaine. The song sparked controversy in later years when the song's original author, Lee Hazlewood, deemed Mustaine's changes to be "vile and offensive" and demanded that the song be removed from the album. Under threat of legal action, the song was removed from all pressings released after 1995. In 2002, however, the album was re-released with a partial version of the song, though with the altered lyrics censored by a "beep." In the Killing Is My Business... deluxe ion liner notes, Mustaine is strongly critical of Hazlewood, and notes he received royalties for almost 10 years before objecting to the altered version.
In the summer of 1985, the group toured the United States and Canada for the first time, supporting Killing Is My Business... with Exciter. During the tour, new guitarist Chris Poland abruptly left the band, and was replaced by touring guitarist Mike Albert. Poland later rejoined Megadeth in October 1985 however, shortly before they began work on their second album with Combat Records.
Peace Sells... but Who's Buying? (1986–1987)
Originally completed in March 1986, Megadeth's second album again suffered from Combat Records small recording budget, and the band was initially unhappy with the final mixed product. Frustrated by the small independent label's financial insufficiencies, Megadeth signed to major label Capitol Records, who also bought the rights to the new album. Capitol hired producer Paul Lani to remix the recordings, and in November 1986, more than a year after recording began, Capitol released Peace Sells... but Who's Buying?. The album marked Megadeth's commercial and critical breakthrough, eventually selling more than a million copies in the US alone.
Considered to be a landmark thrash metal album, Allmusic cited Peace Sells... but Who's Buying? as "One of the most influential metal albums of its decade, and certainly one of the few truly definitive thrash albums." The album's title track "Peace Sells" was chosen to be the band's first music video, receiving regular airplay on MTV's Headbangers Ball. "Peace Sells" ranked #11 on VH1's 40 Greatest Metal Songs and the opening bass line was used for years as the theme for MTV News. Peace Sells... but Who's Buying? was the first Megadeth album to feature art by Ed Repka, who redesigned the band's mascot Vic Rattlehead to the current standard, and designed much of the band's artwork in later years
In February 1987 Megadeth was added as the opening band on Alice Cooper's Constrictor tour, followed by a brief tour supporting Mercyful Fate in the US. Cooper, alarmed by the band's drug habits, summoned them to his bus one night to warn against constant excessive drug use. In March of that year, Megadeth began their first world tour as a headlining act in the United Kingdom, which featured support bands Overkill and Necros.
After years of problems stemming from substance abuse, both Gar Samuelson and Chris Poland were fired from Megadeth in July 1987, following the final show of the tour in Hawaii. Mustaine claimed that Samuelson had become too much to handle when intoxicated, and even had replacement drummer Chuck Behler flown out for the last few dates of the tour, fearing that Samuelson would not be able to finish with the band's commitments. Mustaine claimed that Poland had sold band equipment to fund his increasing drug habit, detailed in the song "Liar," which is also dedicated to Poland. Samuelson later died in July 1999 due to liver failure, while Poland managed to overcome his addiction. Poland was initially replaced by Jay Reynolds of Malice, but as the band began work on their next album, Reynolds was replaced by his own guitar teacher Jeff Young, who joined Megadeth six weeks into the recording of their third album.
So Far, So Good... So What! (1987–1989)
With a major label recording budget, and producer Paul Lani behind the desk, Megadeth spent five months recording their third album, So Far, So Good... So What! The recording process was again plagued with problems from the beginning, due in part to Mustaine's ongoing battle with addiction. Mustaine later said: "The production (of So Far, So Good...) was horrible, mostly due to substances and the priorities we had or didn't have at the time." Mustaine also clashed with Lani, beginning with Lani's insistence that the drums be recorded separate from the cymbals (an unheard of process for rock drummers). During the mixing process, Mustaine and Lani had a falling out, and Lani was replaced by producer Michael Wagener, who remixed the album.
In January 1988 Megadeth released So Far, So Good... So What!, and while the album was eventually certified platinum in the US, it was initially panned by critics, with Allmusic complaining that the album "lacked conceptual unity and musical bite", and that it "wants to sound threatening but mostly comes off as forced and somewhat juvenile".So Far, So Good... featured the song "In My Darkest Hour," with music written by Mustaine as a tribute to fallen Metallica bassist Cliff Burton. The song remains a fan favorite, and has been performed at nearly every Megadeth show since. So Far, So Good... also featured a cover version of the Sex Pistols' "Anarchy in the UK", with lyrics altered by Mustaine (who later admitted to hearing them wrong).
In June 1988, Megadeth appeared in Penelope Spheeris' documentary film The Decline of Western Civilization II: The Metal Years, which chronicled the Los Angeles heavy metal scene of the late 1980s, mostly focusing on glam metal. The video for In My Darkest Hour was filmed by Spheeris (who also directed the "Wake Up Dead" and "Anarchy in the UK" videos), and appears in the final scene of the movie. In Megadeth's 1991 Rusted Pieces VHS, Mustaine recalls the movie as a disappointment, which aligned Megadeth with "a bunch of shit bands".
Megadeth began their world tour in support of So Far, So Good... opening for Dio in Europe in February 1988, later joining Iron Maiden's 7th Tour of a 7th Tour summer tour in the US. Noticing problems developing with drummer Chuck Behler, Mustaine brought drummer Nick Menza in to act as Behler's drum technician. As with Gar Samuelson before him, Menza was to be ready to take over for Behler in the event that he could not continue with the tour.
In August 1988, Megadeth appeared at the Monsters of Rock festival at Castle Donnington in the UK, alongside Kiss, Iron Maiden, Helloween, Guns N' Roses, and David Lee Roth, performing to an audience of more than 100,000 people. The band was soon added to the "Monsters of Rock" European tour, but dropped out after the first show due to Dave Ellefson's drug problems. Shortly after that appearance, Mustaine fired both Chuck Behler and guitarist Jeff Young, and canceled their scheduled 1988 Australian tour. "On the road, things escalated from a small border skirmish into a full-on raging war," he later recalled, "I think a lot of us were inconsistent (on the 1988 tour) because of the guy we were waiting for after the show."
In July 1989, Nick Menza was hired to replace Behler on the drums. Unable to find a suitable lead guitarist in time, Megadeth recorded a cover version of Alice Cooper's "No More Mr. Nice Guy" as a three piece band. The version later appeared on the soundtrack to the 1989 Wes Craven horror movie Shocker. While the band was holding auditions for the new lead guitarist in the summer of 1989, Mustaine was arrested for driving while intoxicated and possession of narcotics, having crashed into a parked vehicle occupied by an off-duty police officer. He entered court-ordered rehab soon after, and got sober for the first time in ten years.
Rust in Peace (1990–1991)
Following Mustaine's new found sobriety, Megadeth began a lengthy search for a new lead guitarist. Lee Altus of Heathen was among those who auditioned, as was Eric Meyer of Dark Angel fame. Meyer had been invited to join the band following Chris Poland's departure, but had declined in order to remain in Dark Angel.
Dimebag Darrell Abbott of then-obscure Pantera also auditioned, and was initially offered the spot. Darrell, however, would not join without his brother, Pantera drummer Vinnie Paul Abbott, and, having already hired Nick Menza, the band was forced to turn Darrell down. In 1987, a 16-year-old Jeff Loomis (of Sanctuary, and later Nevermore) auditioned. Afterwards, Mustaine complimented Loomis on his playing, but rejected him because of his age. Loomis later saw Cacophony with Marty Friedman and Jason Becker on tour, and told Friedman, who had just released his first solo effort, Dragon's Kiss in 1988, of the experience. Friedman eventually auditioned for the spot, but was initially rejected by Mustaine for having multicolored hair. However, after undergoing what Mustaine called "Rock School 101", Friedman officially joined Megadeth in February 1990.
A revitalized Megadeth entered Rumbo Studios in March 1990 with co-producer Mike Clink to begin work on what would become their most critically acclaimed album to date, Rust In Peace. For the first time in their career, the band worked sober in the studio, alleviating many of the problems faced recording previous albums. Clink was also the first producer to successfully produce a Megadeth album from start to finish, without being fired.
Released worldwide on September 24, 1990, Rust in Peace was a hit with fans and critics alike, debuting at #23 on the Billboard Top 200 in the US, and #8 in the UK. The album showcased a much tighter sound, with Mustaine's writing style adopting a rhythmically complex progressive edge, prompting Allmusic to cite Rust in Peace as "Megadeth's strongest musical effort". The album featured the singles "Holy Wars... The Punishment Due", and "Hangar 18", both of which received music videos, and remain live staples. Rust in Peace went on to sell more than a million copies in the US, and received Grammy nominations in 1991 and 1992 for Best Metal Performance.
In September 1990, Megadeth joined Slayer, Testament and Suicidal Tendencies for the European "Clash of the Titans" tour, and in October, they were added as the opening band on Judas Priest's Painkiller tour, culminating with a performance to 140,000 people in January 1991 at Rock in Rio 2 festival in Brazil. Following the success of the European tour, a "Clash of the Titans" US tour began in May 1991, featuring Megadeth, Slayer, Anthrax and opener Alice in Chains. In July, Megadeth's "Go to Hell" was featured on the Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey soundtrack, and shortly after "Breakpoint" was featured on the Super Mario Bros soundtrack. In 1991, Megadeth also released their first home video, Rusted Pieces, which contained six of the band's music videos, along with a video interview with the band.
Countdown to Extinction (1992–1993)
In January 1992, Megadeth entered Enterprise Studios in Burbank, California with co-producer Max Norman. Norman, who had mixed Rust in Peace, would be integral in Megadeth's resulting musical makeover, pushing for shorter, less complicated, and more radio-friendly songs. The band spent four months in the studio with Norman, writing and recording what would become Megadeth's most commercially successful effort, Countdown to Extinction. The album was the first to feature writing contributions from each band member, and was even named by drummer Nick Menza.
On July 14, 1992, Capitol Records released Countdown to Extinction. The album was an instant hit, debuting at #2 on the Billboard Top 200 album charts in the US, and #5 in the UK. Anchored by the Mainstream Rock hits "Symphony of Destruction" ,"Foreclosure of a Dream", and "Sweating Bullets" the album quickly went double platinum in the US, and received a Grammy nomination for Best Metal Performance in 1993. The album's title song, "Countdown to Extinction" also gave Megadeth the distinction of being the only metal band to ever win the "Doris Day Music Award", presented to the band by the Humane Society of the United States in 1993 for "spotlighting species destruction and the horrific 'sport' of canned hunts".
The band released their second home video Exposure of a Dream, in November 1992, continuing in a similar to fashion to Rusted Pieces, the release featured all music videos previously released from Countdown. Megadeth began their world tour in support of Countdown to Extinction in December 1992 with Pantera and Suicidal Tendencies, followed by a North American tour beginning in January 1993 with Stone Temple Pilots. Just one month into the North American tour, however, the band was forced to cancel all remaining shows, including dates scheduled in Japan, as Mustaine again fell into substance abuse, and ended up in the hospital emergency room. After a seven week stint in rehab, Mustaine emerged clean once again, and the band returned to the studio to record "Angry Again", a song which was featured in the 1993 film Last Action Hero, and later nominated for a Grammy in 1994.
In June 1993 Megadeth returned to the stage, appearing as "special guests" at Metallica's Milton Keynes Bowl Festival, marking the first time the former bandmates played the same stage in ten years. The pairing prompted Mustaine's on stage announcement that "The ten years of bullshit is over between Metallica and Megadeth!", although problems would later resurface between the long-feuding bands. In July, Megadeth was added as the opening act for Aerosmith's Get A Grip US tour, but due to contractual disputes, and on stage remarks made by Mustaine about Aerosmith's "advancing" age, Megadeth was removed from the tour after just seven dates.
Following their canceled US tour, Megadeth returned to the studio to record "99 Ways to Die", a song that appeared on The Beavis and Butt-Head Experience, a compilation album featuring songs intercut with commentary by Beavis and Butt-head, released in November 1993. The song was later nominated for a Grammy in 1995 for Best Metal Performance. At the same sessions, "Paranoid" was recorded for a Black Sabbath tribute album. Paranoid was often performed as an encore.
Early in 1994, Megadeth again teamed up with co-producer Max Norman to begin work on the follow up to Countdown to Extinction. With two members of the band now residing in Arizona, initial work began at Phase Four Studios in Phoenix. A few days into pre-production, problems with Phase Four's equipment forced the band to seek out an alternative studio. Mustaine, however, insisted on recording at his home state of Arizona, and no suitable recording facility could be found in time. At the request of co-producer Norman, the band opted to construct their own recording studio inside of a rented warehouse in Phoenix, Arizona, later dubbed "Fat Planet in Hangar 18". While the studio was being constructed, much of the pre-production song writing and arrangements took place at Vintage Recorders in Phoenix (a studio which would also be used for MD45 and both Mustaine and Friedman solo projects). For the first time in their career, the band wrote and arranged the entire album in studio, and included basic tracks recorded live by the whole band at the same time. Recording of the album was captured on video, and later released as Evolver: The Making of Youthanasia.
Following eight months in the studio, Youthanasia was released on November 1, 1994, Oct.31st 1994 (Halloween ) saw a live broadcast on MTV of "Night of the Living Megadeth" which introduced the new songs to a wide audience for the first time. Youthanasia debuted at #4 on the Billboard Top 200 album chart in the US. The album was certified gold in Canada in just thirty minutes, and was certified platinum in the US faster than any other Megadeth album. With producer Max Norman still pushing for a slower, more commercial sound, Youthanasia followed the stylistic shift that began with Countdown to Extinction. While still retaining core metal elements, the album focused on stronger vocal melodies and more accessible, radio friendly arrangements. The band even enlisted noted fashion photographer Richard Avedon to further their new image, dropping their jeans and t-shirts for a more style conscious look.
A sticker on initial releases of Youthanasia advertised the then-new concept of a band website, affectionately known as "Megadeth, Arizona". Fans could chat in the "Mega-diner", correspond with the band through email, request songs to be played live, and read columns and tour diaries written by band members.
Youthanasia's first single, "Train of Consequencesreached #29 on Billboard's Mainstream Rock charts, and in November 1994, Megadeth appeared on the Late Show with David Letterman, performing the album's second single, "À Tout Le Monde". "À Tout Le Monde" also received a music video, which MTV refused to play, thinking its lyrics were an endorsement of suicide.
Live support for Youthanasia began in South America in November 1994, and would span eleven months, becoming Megadeth's most extensive tour to date. The band was joined by Corrosion of Conformity in both Europe and the US, and Flotsam and Jetsam, Korn and Fear Factory in the US. The tour culminated with an appearance at the Monsters of Rock festival in Brazil, co-headlining alongside Alice Cooper and Ozzy Osbourne. In January 1995, Megadeth appeared on the soundtrack to the horror film Tales from the Crypt Presents: Demon Knight with the song "Diadems". Megadeth also contributed a cover version of "Paranoid" to Nativity in Black, the first Black Sabbath tribute album. The band's version of "Paranoid" was nominated for a Grammy in 1996 for Best Metal Performance, Megadeth's sixth nomination in as many years.
In March 1995, Megadeth released a special ion of Youthanasia in Europe, containing a bonus disc entitled Hidden Treasures. The bonus disc featured every one-off song by Megadeth, from film soundtracks, compilations, and tribute albums, including a new recording of the Sex Pistols' "Problems". Due to fan demand, the bonus disc was released as its own EP in the United States and Japan in July 1995.
During the summer of 1995, the band underwent changes on the business side. Manager Ron Lafitte was hired by EMI Records and essentially disbanded his Management company. Megadeth later signed with ESP Management, and hired a new "creative manager" Bud Prager, a previous manager of both Foreigner and Bad Company. As with Max Norman before him, Prager would go on to be highly influential in shaping the direction of the band.
Cryptic Writings (1996–1998)
Following an extensive world tour in support of Youthanasia, Megadeth took time off late in 1995. Mustaine began work on MD.45, a side project with vocalist Lee Ving of Fear. Drummer Jimmy Degrasso ( who had been playing in Alice Cooper's Band for the South American Monsters of Rock Tour months previous) was brought in. Sessions were recorded and Vintage Recorders, and Dave also started work on a home demo studio. Marty Friedman constructed a studio in his new home in Phoenix and started work both there and at Vintage Recorders on a solo project. In September 1996, Megadeth began working on songs for their next album in London, tentatively titled Needles and Pins. The writing process was closely supervised by new manager Bud Prager, who also contributed musical ideas and lyrics to the songs. Many lyrics, and even song titles were changed at the request of Prager. Regarding Prager's writing influence, Mustaine later wrote "I figured maybe this guy (Prager) could help me get that intangible 'Number One' record I so badly wanted" Due to a problem with the album's original artwork, the album cover was replaced with a "voodoo symbol", and renamed Cryptic Writings.
On June 17, 1997 Capitol Records released Cryptic Writings. The album debuted at #10 on the Billboard Top 200, and was Megadeth's sixth consecutive studio album to be certified gold in the United States. Cryptic Writings scored Megadeth their highest charting single to date, the #5 Mainstream Rock Track, "Trust", which was also nominated for a Best Metal Performance Grammy in 1998. Press response to the album was mixed, but the album would go on to score four top 20 Mainstream Rock Tracks, including "Almost Honest" (#8), "Use the Man" (#15), and "A Secret Place" When asked about the eclectic nature of the album, Mustaine later said "We divided it into thirds. One part of the record was really fast and aggressive, one third of it was the really melodic, in between stuff, and then the final third was really radio-orientated music like Youthanasia."
After more than a year away from the stage, Megadeth returned as a live act in June 1997, beginning a world tour with The Misfits, and later touring in the United States with Life of Agony and Coal Chamber. In July Megadeth joined Ozzfest 98, but halfway through the tour, drummer Nick Menza discovered a tumor on his knee, and was forced to leave the tour to undergo surgery. He was replaced by Jimmy DeGrasso, temporarily at first. Following the tour, however, DeGrasso replaced Menza permanently, after Mustaine claimed that Menza had "lied about having cancer".
In 1998, computer game development company 3D Realms announced that they would be using two unreleased Megadeth tracks on their promotional album Duke Nukem: Music to Score By. First was a rendition of the Duke Nukem theme song "Grabbag", originally composed by Lee Jackson, and second was a Megadeth song originally recorded in 1995, "New World Order", which later appeared on the remastered ion of Hidden Treasures. A demo version of this song had already featured on the 1994 Japanese ion of Hidden Treasures, but this was included on the remaster of Youthanasia instead.
Following the band's first real radio success with Cryptic Writings, Megadeth opted to again work with country pop producer Dann Huff in Nashville on their eighth studio album, which began in January 1999. The writing of the album was again supervised by manager Bud Prager, cred with co-writing on five of the album's twelve songs. Prager convinced Mustaine to grant producer Dan Huff more control over the recording process. "When it comes to Risk", Mustaine later wrote, "there'd been people in there playing and I wouldn't even know who they were or where the parts came from, and I'm not used to that. I was a little bit intimidated by the success we had with Cryptic Writings, so when it came to creating new material after that, it's like being "power-drunk" - you want more. After the success with "Trust", I thought to myself "wow, we've had a number one hit." We'd had four top five hits in a row, so why would I not want to give Dan even more control when it comes to the producing part on the next record? So I did, and it backfired."
Released on August 31, 1999, Risk was both a critical and commercial failure, and led to a backlash from many longtime fans. Although recent Megadeth albums had incorporated mainstream rock elements alongside a more traditional heavy metal sound, Risk was virtually devoid of metal, featuring instead dance, electronica, and disco influences. Risk was Megadeth's first release since 1985 not to be certified gold or higher in the US. The album's lead-off single, "Crush Em", appeared on the Universal Soldier: The Return soundtrack, temporarily as World Championship Wrestling's entrance theme for Bill Goldberg and later became an official NHL song, played during hockey games. Singles were made out of Crush 'Em, Breadline and Insomnia.
In July 1999, Megadeth recorded a cover version of the Black Sabbath song "Never Say Die", which appeared on the second Nativity in Black tribute album. They began their world tour in support of Risk in September 1999, playing alongside Iron Maiden during the European leg. Three months into the tour, longtime guitarist Marty Friedman announced that he would be leaving the band, citing musical differences. As Mustaine later explained: "I told (Marty) after Risk that we had to go back to our roots and play metal, and he quit." Megadeth enlisted guitarist Al Pitrelli, formerly of Savatage, Alice Cooper, and currently ofTrans-Siberian Orchestra, as Friedman's replacement in January 2000.
Megadeth returned to the studio in April 2000, to begin work on their ninth studio release. However, one month into production the band was given the opportunity to join the "Maximum Rock" tour, alongside Anthrax and Mötley Crüe. Megadeth put the recording on hold, and toured North America throughout the summer of 2000. Early into the tour, Anthrax dropped off the bill, allowing Megadeth to play an extended, co-headlining set.
Megadeth and Capitol Records parted ways in October 2000, after fourteen years. The label returned the band's newest recordings, and in return released a greatest hits record, Capitol Punishment: The Megadeth Years. The album also featured two new tracks, "Kill the King", and "Dread and the Fugitive Mind", both of which showcased the band's return to their metal roots following Risk.
The World Needs a Hero (2001–2002)
In November 2000, Megadeth signed with new label Sanctuary Records. The band returned to the studio in October to put the finishing touches on their next album, which had been near completion before the band joined the "Maximum Rock" tour six months earlier. Following the overwhelming negative response to Risk, Mustaine fired manager Bud Prager, and decided to self-produce Megadeth's next album. The World Needs a Hero, the first Megadeth album since Peace Sells... but Who's Buying? to be written entirely by Mustaine (with one contribution from Al Pitrelli on "Promises"), was released on May 15, 2001 to mixed reviews.While the album marked a return to form following the attempted mainstream rock direction featured on Risk, some critics felt the album fell short of expectations. Mustaine himself likened the album to be the first major turn of a huge ship at sea, trying to right itself and get back on course. The album's lead off single, "Moto Psycho", reached #22 on the Billboard Mainstream Rock charts, also receiving regular airplay on VH1's Rock Show.
Touring in support of The World Needs a Hero began in the summer of 2001 in Europe supporting AC/DC, followed by an American tour with Iced Earth and Endo in September. The tour was cut short however, following the attacks on America on September 11, the band were forced to cancel all scheduled dates, including a DVD shoot set in Argentina. Although they did perform one show at the Commador Ballroom in Vancouver, B.C. on September 12. Instead the band played two shows in Arizona in November, which were filmed and later released as Rude Awakening, Megadeth's first official live release. The DVD went gold on July 23, 2002. In February 2002, Bill Kennedy remixed and remastered Megadeth's first album, Killing Is My Business... and Business Is Good!, with modern mixing and mastering techniques used on modern metal albums, and added bonus tracks.
In January 2002, Mustaine was admitted to the hospital to remove a kidney stone. While undergoing treatment, he was administered pain medication, which triggered a relapse. Following his hospital stay, he immediately checked himself into a treatment center in Texas. While at the treatment center, Mustaine suffered a freak injury causing severe nerve damage to his left arm. The injury, induced by falling asleep with his left arm over the back of a chair, caused compression of the radial nerve. He was diagnosed with radial neuropathy, which left him unable to grasp or even make a fist with his left hand (a condition known as Saturday Night Palsy).
On April 3, 2002, Mustaine announced in a press release that he was disbanding Megadeth, officially due to his arm injury. For the next four months, Mustaine underwent intense physical therapy five days a week. Slowly, Mustaine began to play again, but was forced to "re-teach" his left hand.
In order to fulfill contract obligations with Sanctuary Records, Megadeth released a compilation album, Still Alive... and Well? on September 10, 2002. The first half of the album contains live tracks recorded at the Web Theatre in Phoenix, Arizona, on November 17, 2001. The second half of the album contains studio recordings taken from The World Needs a Hero.
Following nearly a year of recovery, including physical and electric shock therapy, Mustaine began work on what was to be his first solo album. The new material was recorded with session musicians Vinnie Colaiuta and Jimmy Sloas in October 2003, but the project was put on hold when Mustaine agreed to remix and remaster Megadeth's eight album back catalog with Capitol Records. Mustaine re-recorded some parts that were lost over time, or altered without his knowledge in the initial mixing process.
The System Has Failed (2004–2005)
In May 2004 Mustaine returned to his newest recordings, intended as a solo effort, but due to outstanding contractual obligations with the band's European label EMI, he was forced to release one more album under the "Megadeth" name. Mustaine decided to reform the band, and contacted the fan favorite "Rust in Peace line-up" to re-record backing tracks on his latest songs. While drummer Nick Menza initially signed on, Marty Friedman and Dave Ellefson were both unable to come to an agreement with Mustaine. Menza was dismissed shortly after he began rehearsing with the band again. Mustaine states, "It just didn't work out. We tried for two weeks to get everything to happen, and it just didn't click. Five days before the tour started, I had to send him home." Regarding longtime bassist Ellefson not returning to the band, Mustaine said: "Dave lied to me in the press, he said that my arm injury was fake, went around town and slandered me. We made him a really good offer (to rejoin the band) and he said no. I mean, if I give you an offer and you don't take it, it means no, right?" The resulting album became the first ever Megadeth recording not to feature Ellefson. Original lead guitarist Chris Poland (from the 'Killing is My Business' and 'Peace Sells' era) was hired by Mustaine to contribute guitar solos to the new album; the first time the two musicians had worked together since Poland's dismissal from the band in the 1980s. Poland opted to serve as a studio musician only, as he wished to remain focused on his own jazz fusion project OHM.
On September 14, 2004 Megadeth released their comeback album, The System Has Failed on Sanctuary Records in the US and EMI in Europe. Heralded as a return to form, Revolver magazine gave the album four stars, calling The System Has Failed "Megadeth's most vengeful, poignant and musically complex offering since Countdown to Extinction." The album debuted on the Billboard 200 chart at #18, and was led by the radio single "Die Dead Enough", which reached #21 on the US Mainstream Rock charts. Mustaine announced that the album would be the band's last, followed by a farewell tour, after which he would focus on a solo career.
Megadeth began the Blackmail the Universe world tour in October 2004, enlisting touring bassist James MacDonough (Iced Earth), and guitarist Glen Drover (Eidolon, King Diamond). While in rehearsal for the tour, drummer Nick Menza parted ways with the band, as he was unable to prepare for the physical demands of a full US tour. He was replaced just five days before the first show by Shawn Drover, brother to new guitarist Glen Drover, and also a member of the Canadian thrash metal band Eidolon. The band toured the US with Exodus, and later in Europe with Diamond Head and Dungeon.
In June 2005, Capitol Records released a greatest hits album to replace the now out of print Capitol Punishment, entitled Greatest Hits: Back to the Start, which featured the new remixed and remastered versions of songs from the first eight albums.
In the summer of 2005, Mustaine organized an annual heavy metal festival tour, dubbed Gigantour. Megadeth headlined the inaugural run with Dream Theater, Nevermore,Anthrax, Fear Factory, Dillinger Escape Plan, Life of Agony, Symphony X, Dry Kill Logic and Bobaflex. Performances from the Montreal and Vancouver shows were filmed and recorded for a live DVD and CD, both of which were released in the summer of 2006.
On October 9, 2005, following the successes of The System Has Failed and the Blackmail the Universe world tour, Mustaine announced on stage in Argentina to a sold out crowd at the Pepsi Music Rock Festival that Megadeth would continue to record and tour with the line "... And we will be back!." This concert was officially released on DVD as That One Night: Live in Buenos Aires in March 2007. The DVD went gold on July 19, 2007. The 2 CD version was released on September 4, 2007.
In February, 2006 bass player James MacDonough parted ways with the band for what MacDonough called "personal differences". He was replaced by bassist James LoMenzo, who had previously worked with David Lee Roth, White Lion and Black Label Society. On March 16, 2006 the new Megadeth line-up made their live debut headlining the Dubai Desert Rockfestival held in the United Arab Emirates, alongside Testament and 3 Doors Down.
On March 21, 2006, Capitol Records released a two disc DVD titled Arsenal of Megadeth, which included archive footage, interviews, live shows, and many of the band's music videos. Due to licensing issues, movie soundtrack videos, as well as videos not released by Capitol Records were not included on the DVD. However, the DVD still featured the songs No More Mr. Nice Guy and Go to Hell from Hidden Treasures. The DVD went gold on July 27, 2007.
Second installment of the Gigantour was launched in fall of 2006, Megadeth headlining the inaugural run with Lamb of God, Opeth, Arch Enemy, Overkill, Into Eternity, Sanctity and The SmashUp. Gigantour 2006 also continued with 3 dates in Australia, line up included Soulfly, Arch Enemy and Caliban. Performances from the Sunrise, Florida show were filmed and recorded for a live DVD and CD, both of which were released in the spring of 2008.
United Abominations (2006–2009)
In May 2006 Megadeth announced their eleventh studio album, entitled United Abominations, was near completion. Originally scheduled for release by Roadrunner Records in October 2006, Mustaine announced in August 2006 that the band were "putting the finishing touches on it", and it was rescheduled for release on May 15, 2007. United Abominations is the band's first studio release to feature members Glen Drover, Shawn Drover, and James Lomenzo. In March 2007 Dave Mustaine announced at the Megadeth forums that a new version of "À Tout le Monde (Set Me Free)" would be released on the album. It features a duet with Cristina Scabbia of the band Lacuna Coil, and was to be the first single from the album until it was replaced by "Washington Is Next!".
United Abominations was released on May 15, 2007. It debuted a week later at #8 in the US, the band's highest charting position since 1994's Youthanasia, and sold 54,000 copies in its first week. In March 2007 Megadeth commenced a tour through Canada and the United States as an opening act for the newly-reformed Heaven & Hell, along with Down on Canadian dates and Machine Head on US dates, followed by a summer festival tour through Europe. In September 2007 Megadeth returned to the United States as the headline act on their Tour Of Duty tour, which also included the Pacific rim and the third installment of Gigantour which was launched in Australia in November 2007, line up included Static-X, Lacuna Coil, DevilDriver and Bring Me the Horizon.
On January 13, 2008, Dave Mustaine confirmed that Glen Drover had quit Megadeth to focus on his family, and was replaced by Chris Broderick (formerly of Nevermore and Jag Panzer). The new line-up made its live debut in Finland on February 4, went on Tour Of Duty tour in Europe as the headline act and returned to UK the same month and US in the spring for Gigantour 2008. Dave Mustaine wanted a shorter lineup so each band had a good chance to put on a show. The 2008 installment of the tour featured In Flames, Children of Bodom, Job for a Cowboy, and High on Fire (and Evile for the UK and Scandinavia tour). Also Megadeth did Tour Of Duty tour in South America and Mexico in May and June 2008. Commenting on leaving the band, Drover said "I am aware of the rumors that I left Megadeth to focus on family life. My family life has always been my priority. In the end, I was unhappy with the situation, which magnified me wanting to spend more time with my family and realizing that it's time for me to move on to the next chapter in my musical career, I have a lot of great memories and met a ton of great people along the way, both fans and people in the industry."
Mustaine said he is happy with Drover's decision and is pleased that his replacement is Broderick. Mustaine also said "Chris is doing just fine." Former Nevermore bandmate Van Williams commented that Megadeth is "getting one hell of a good player, more importantly they're getting a great guy to hang out with and a true friend." Broderick said "I realize I have some big shoes to fill and I will do my best."With regards to what kind of an addition Chris Broderick will be for Megadeth, Dave Mustaine in an interview said "...thoroughly thrilled with Chris... it reminds me a lot like when Ozzy found Randy Rhoads." A compilation album called Anthology: Set The World Afire was released on September 30, 2008.
Megadeth embarked on the "Priest Feast" European tour with headliners Judas Priest and openers Testament in February and March 2009. Dave Mustaine was invited by Metallica to attend their Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction; Mustaine congratulated them respectfully and stated due to winding down European tour with Judas Priest he would be unable to attend the ceremony. Megadeth and Slayer co-headlined Canadian Carnage, the first time they had performed together in more than 15 years. Opening acts for the four shows that occurred in late June were Machine Head and Suicide Silence.
As of May 19, Megadeth had finished recording the album and on June 18, the album title was revealed to be Endgame. On May 27, 2009, Dave Mustaine confirmed all 12 songs are complete and they are currently mixing and mastering the record. As mentioned by Dave Mustaine on the syndicated radio show Infowars, the name of the album Endgame is an homage to the Alex Jones documentary of the same name.
The release date for the "Endgame" album was announced on the Megadeth official website as September 15, 2009, and Metal Hammer magazine's website were the first to review the album track by track. Megadeth began its Endgame tour on November 14, in Grand Rapids, Michigan and ended on December 13, in Las Vegas, Nevada. The Tour featured Machine Head, Suicide Silence, Warbringer, and Arcanium. In January 2010, Megadeth was set to embark on the "American Carnage" tour with Slayer and Testament, both giants of the thrash and heavy metal scene. The tour was scheduled to begin on January 18, but was ultimately postponed until later in the summer due to Tom Araya's back surgery. Several weeks later, Megadeth's "Head Crusher" was nominated for a 2010 Grammy.
Megadeth also announced a "Rust in Peace 20th Anniversary Tour", which began on March 1 as a month-long North American tour with support from Testament and Exodus. During the tour, Megadeth played Rust In Peace in its entirety and Testament played The Legacy in its entirety. As of February 8, 2010, and prior to the start of the "Rust in Peace 20th Anniversary Tour", original bassist Dave Ellefson rejoined Megadeth after eight years. He stated in an interview for Classic Rockmagazine that Megadeth drummer Shawn Drover contacted him and had said that bassist James LoMenzo was declining and had told him that "if ever there was a time for you and Dave to talk, now is it."
In recent news, Megadeth have been working on a new song entitled "Sudden Death" and to which Mustaine claims "won't be ready for a half a year at best." However, it appears in the video game Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock. On June 18 IGN posted a video showcasing the completed version of the song on the game. Accompanying Sudden Death on the game will be Holy Wars... The Punishment Due and This Day We Fight!. On September 7, 2010, the band released Rust in Peace Live on CD, DVD, and BluRay, recorded at the Hollywood Palladium via Shout! Factory.
Megadeth, along with Metallica, Slayer, and Anthrax performed on the same bill for the first time ever on June 16, 2010 at Bemowo Airport (Warsaw, Poland). It was the first performance of that bands played as a part of Sonisphere Festival series, one of the following (Sofia, Bulgaria, June 22, 2010) was sent via satellite in HD to cinemas. They also went on to play in Athens, Greece (June 24, 2010), Bucharest, Romania (June 26, 2010) and then in Istanbul, Turkey (June 27, 2010) also as part of the Sonisphere Festival. This was the first time that Megadeth and Metallica played the same stage since June 1993, and only the second time since 1983 that he, Hetfield, and Ulrich have shared the same stage.
On September 24, 2010, Megadeth, Slayer, and Anthrax will begin The Jägermeister Music Tour in Dallas, TX. Megadeth will continue to play their 1990 album Rust In Peace in its entirety, while Slayer will perform their Seasons in the Abyss album, which was also released in 1990. Also, on September 24, 2010, Megadeth released the new track Sudden Death on iTunes. On September 28, Roadrunner Records made the track available for streaming on its website. On October 21 the finale date of Jägermeister Music Tour in fall of 2010, Kerry King joined Megadeth on stage, at the Gibson Amphitheater in Hollywood, California to perform Megadeth's classic "Rattlehead" which was the first time in 26 years that Kerry King has shared the stage with Megadeth since he played with the band during Megadeth's very first shows in 1984.
In an October 2010 interview with Crypt Magazine, Shawn Drover stated plans on a new upcoming Megadeth album: "Yeah, we’re certainly talking about it. Right now we’re in tour mode, but we’re starting to discuss our game plan for next year, and I envision next year we’ll be recording a new record." Later that month, Roadrunner Records submitted Sudden Death for consideration for Best Metal Performance, The Right to Go Insane for Best Hard Rock Performance and Rust in Peace Live for Best Rock Album at the 53rd Grammy Awards. "Sudden Death" was nominated, making it the band's ninth.
New album (2010–Present)
On November 17, 2010, Dave Mustaine has officially announced in the Megadeth Cyber Army Chat Room that Megadeth will soon be recording their 13th album in Vic's Garage (Megadeth's Studio). Dave Mustaine said these words about the new upcoming album; "So, right now I have Ken Eisennagel, you may remember him from the last two records doing engineering for all of the pre-production phases of Megadeth records? Well, he is here Megadeth’s studio - Vic's Garage going over all of the new Megadeth stuff that I am working on… believe it or not we have five songs almost finished for the new Megs record already!" The album name and release date is still to be announced. On December 18, 2010, it was announced that Megadeth and Slayer will join forces once again for European Carnage Tour in March and April 2011. Also Big Four will play couple of dates again at Sonisphere in England and France for the first time ever in July 2011.
As Megadeth's primary lyricist, Mustaine is known for his often controversial, political, and more recently, personal lyrics. War and nuclear war are common topics, including the military-industrial complex("Architecture of Aggression", "Hangar 18", "Return to Hangar" "Take No Prisoners"), and the aftermath of war ("Dawn Patrol" "Ashes In Your Mouth"). The name Megadeth is a deliberate misspelling of the word megadeath, a term coined in 1953 by RAND military strategist Herman Kahn to describe one million deaths, popularized in his 1960 book On Thermonuclear War. Politics are also a common theme to many Megadeth songs, such as Mustaine's scathing assessment of Tipper Gore, the PMRC, and music censorship in the song "Hook In Mouth". Mustaine takes an environmentalist stance in "Countdown to Extinction" and "Dawn Patrol",and shuns dictators in songs like "Symphony of Destruction". The UN is criticized for its ineffectiveness in "United Abominations" and "Peace Sells". Mustaine's general cynicism regarding politics shines through on tracks like "Peace Sells","The World Needs A Hero" and "Blackmail the Universe".
Controversial and misunderstood lyrics have also caused problems for the band, as the music video for "In My Darkest Hour" was banned from MTV in 1988 when the music channel deemed the song to be pro-suicide. The music video for "À Tout le Monde" was later banned by MTV, again wrongly interpreted as being pro-suicide, when in fact it was written from the perspective of a dying man, saying his last words to his loved ones.
Addiction is also a common theme, as in "Use the Man", "Burnt Ice", and "Addicted to Chaos", about a former substance abuse counselor who died of a drug overdose. Recently, some lyrics have taken on religious themes, such as "Never Walk Alone... A Call to Arms", which supposedly is about Mustaine's relationship with God, and "Shadow of Deth", with spoken lyrics taken directly from Psalm 23 of the King James Bible. "My Kingdom" and "Of Mice And Men" also feature Christian lyrics.
Mustaine dabbled in black magic in his teenage years, which became the theme for the song off the Peace Sells album, The Conjuring. Mustaine stated that it was emotionally difficult to play because of his rebirth into Christianity. "I put two hexes on people, and they both worked and the result was just what I was asking for," he explained. "Now, it took forever to get that Satanic depression off of me because it's just like playing with a Ouija board. You open the doorway to the dark side, and spirits come through. It took almost 20 years to get rid of that Satanic depression. I did it when I was 15, and I don't think I got free of it until I was in my mid-30s.You ask yourself, 'How is it possible that this is happening to me?' Well, because you flirted with the devil and you put a hex on somebody and you put another hex on somebody, and, well, you owe him. And that's why I have a problem playing 'The Conjuring' today.
Dave Mustaine is notorious for making inflammatory statements in the press, usually regarding feuds and problems with former bandmates and other bands, including Slayer and Metallica. Perhaps most well known is his long standing feud with Metallica members James Hetfield and Lars Ulrich, stemming from his ejection from the band, and the method in which it was conducted, as well as disagreements on songwriting crs. This feud has since been resolved, and Mustaine and the members of Metallica are once again on friendly terms.
In April 1988, at a concert in Antrim, Northern Ireland, Mustaine "unknowingly" dedicated the final song to the IRA. Before the final song, "Anarchy in the UK", Mustaine said, "This one's for the cause!" A fight amongst the audience ensued, as Protestants took offense and, according to Mustaine, the band had to travel in a "bulletproof bus" for the remainder of the tour of Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. Mustaine later alleged that he had been misled as to the meaning of the expression "the cause" by T-Shirt bootleggers outside the venue where they were performing. This incident served as inspiration for one of Megadeth's most well-known songs, "Holy Wars... The Punishment Due".
In July 2004, former bassist Dave Ellefson sued Mustaine for $18.5 million in Manhattan Federal Court. Ellefson alleged that Mustaine short changed him on profits and backed out of a deal to turn Megadeth over to him when they disbanded in 2002. Ellefson also accused Mustaine of locking him out of merchandise and publishing royalties. The suit was dismissed in 2005, and Mustaine filed a countersuit, which was later settled out of court.
Also sparking minor controversy was Mustaine's announcement that Megadeth will not play certain songs live anymore, due to Mustaine's new identification as a Christian. In recent years Dave Mustaine has become a Born again Christian. In May 2005 Mustaine also allegedly threatened to cancel shows in Greece and Israel with extreme metal bands Rotting Christ and Dissection, due to the bands' perceived anti-Christian beliefs, which in turn caused the two bands to cancel their appearances.
Over 25 million albums sold worldwide, ten top 40 albums (including 5 top 10 albums), 18 top 40 Mainstream Rock singles, and nine Grammy nominations, Megadeth remains one of the most successful heavy metal bands of all time. Of the "Big Four" thrash metal bands (Megadeth, Metallica, Anthrax, and Slayer), Megadeth is second only to Metallica in sales and commercial success.
As an early pioneer of thrash metal, Megadeth helped pave the way for the burgeoning extreme metal movement of the late 1980s and early 1990s, and is often cited as an influence by later metal acts, including Pantera, Bullet for My Valentine, Arch Enemy, Lamb of God, and In Flames.
Peace Sells... but Who's Buying? is considered a landmark in the history of thrash metal, with Allmusic calling the album "One of the most influential metal albums of its decade, and certainly one of the few truly definitive thrash albums", as well as "one of the best beginning-to-end metal albums ever". In May 2006 VH1 ranked "Peace Sells" #11 on the 40 Greatest Metal Songs of all time countdown. In addition to this, Rust In Peace was named the 3rd greatest thrash metal album of all time by Metal Hammer magazine. "Peace Sells...But Who's buying?" was placed 11th.
In 1993, Megadeth became the first and only metal band to win the Humane Society's Genesis Award for the title track of their Countdown to Extinction album.
In 2004, Guitar World magazine ranked Dave Mustaine and Marty Friedman together at #19 on the 100 Greatest Heavy Metal Guitarists of All Time. Megadeth are also ranked 69th on "VH1's 100 Greatest Artists of Hard Rock" list.
In 2009, after the release of Endgame, BBC regarded Megadeth as "most consistent heavy metal group".BW&BK mentions that even in 2009, "Megadeth are still driven by hunger" for new material and they do not repeat themselves. About.com asserts that "More than a quarter century after their formation, Megadeth is still at the top of their game."