On September 19, 1986 "Megadeth" released their second album "Peace Sells ... But Who's Buying?"
It's the band's breakthrough album which has established it at the forefront of the Thrash Metal genre, along with bands like "Metallica" and "Slayer". Moreover, this album has given the band international recognition both in the Metal scene and among music critics. It is considered a "classic" in the Metal genre and among the albums responsible for the change and development of the Thrash and Speed Metal genres. And if all this is not enough to understand that this is a masterpiece, we will note that "Peace Sells ... but Who's Buying?" is also included in the prestigious list of "1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die" and the list of the 500 greatest metal albums of all time.
However, at first, not everything was perfect as this album. Dave Mustaine and David Ellefson noted that recording the album was very difficult for them. Both were homeless at the time. Drummer Gar Samuelson and guitarist Chris Poland were late for the recordings or did not appear at all due to a severe heroin addiction, which made it very difficult for the band to finish the recordings. Despite all the difficulties and against all odds the band managed to finally finish the recordings and mixes for the album, just to start the whole production and mixing process back from scratch.
Initially, the copyright on the album belonged to "Combat Records", which gave the band $ 25,000 to complete the recordings. The band worked with producer Randy Burns to record all the material and performed the initial mix. Later, "Capitol Records" bought the rights for the album and brought producer Paul Lani to redo all the mixes. By the way, you can find special editions of the album that include the songs with the mixes of Randy Burns as a bonus.
(Photo: Yell! Magazine)
For the first time, the album cover features Vic Rattlehead - the band's "mascot", in all its glory. As you all may know, the band members wanted to include the skull painting of Rattlehead already on the first album, but "Combat Records" lost the "Rattlehead" chart that Dave Mustaine drew and replaced it with a plastic skull photograph. In this case, "Rattlehead" stands in front of the ruins of the UN building in the US, after a nuclear bomb, holding a "for sale" sign. This is a protest against the idea that no one would have bought "Peace" if it had been put up for sale.
The criticism from the album cover also seeps into the lyrics, something that will increase with "Megadeth" in future albums. Mustaine and Ellefson addressed this in an interview before the album's release, in December 1985 and stated that they are interested in changing public opinion about metal and therefore the songs on the album are aimed at raising social awareness on various issues. By the way, in the same interview, Mustaine and Ellefson stated that they had finished recording two songs for the album and that they were even faster than the song "Rattlehead" from the first album - "Killing Is My Business... and Business Is Good!"
The album opens with the galloping bass and drums of the Ellefson-Samuelson rhythm section with "Wake Up Dead". After a few basic riffs and even before half a minute has passed, we are already diving into the solo dialogue between Dave Mustaine and Chris Poland, and get acquainted with the all-too-unique sound of "Megadeth" that will accompany it during the classic Thrash period and become its hallmark. The lyrics tell of a man who cheats on his wife (or girlfriend) and sneaks into his house at night secretly knowing that if his wife finds out about the affair she will kill him. Dave Mustaine noted that he wrote the song about himself and that it was a true story about a girlfriend he dated, only because he was homeless and had nowhere to live. Dave said he was in love with someone else at the time and was afraid his girlfriend would find out. He cut ties with her after believing she would actually kill him if she found out about the affair.
The lyrics of the song "The Conjuring" were influenced by black magic which Dave Mustaine believed in at the time and describe as a satanic ceremony. Since 2001, the band has stopped playing the song, as well as all songs about Satanism and black magic, such as "Good Mourning/Black Friday", all due to a change in Dave's beliefs and his close encounter with Christianity. Itbis interesting to note, that in the year 2020 Dave started including these songs in the band setlists.
The theme song, "Peace Sells ... But Who's Buying?" Is one of the songs responsible for the band's breakthrough. The clip for the song was played countless times on MTV and brought the band strong recognition in the metal scene. David Ellefson's famous bass line at the opening of the track served as the opening for MTV NEWS in the late 1980s. David Ellefson said that unfortunately, the band did not receive royalties because as soon as MTV knew they had to pay them, they simply changed the opening signal.
The album takes off from there in "Megadeth's" thrash attack with "Devils Island" which tells the story of a man sentenced to death awaiting his execution "In the Devil's Island". Then comes the two connected songs "Good Mourning / Black Friday" which opens with the quiet and melodic instrumental section" Good Mourning" and continue with "Black Friday" which tells the story of a serial killer, while increasing the tempo and playing speed, up to the psychic end that for some reason reminds us of "Metal Militia" by the big sister "Metallica".
With "Bad Omen" we slow down a bit, but do not get used to it because you are going to get on the fast train again with bursting riffs, rolling drums, and fast like lightning solos.
"I Ain't Superstitious" is a cover version of Willie Dixon's famous song first, recorded by Howlin' Wolf back in 1961. Of course "Megadeth" take the song to the Thrash side, but the original blues remains at the base of it.
The final song "My Last Words", which refers to the game of Russian roulette is one of the most beautiful songs on the album, which includes an amazing bass work by Ellefson and a perfect collaboration between the guitar duo Mustaine - Poland.
There is no doubt! This is one of the best albums of "Megadeth". It has no weak moments except perhaps the cover version of Willy Dixon and its short length (only 36 minutes). It's a masterpiece, which includes all the basic elements of the genre that any metalhead can ask for. Fast and heavy riffs, solos that penetrate your ears, excellent writing, and perfect playing level. All of these and more put this album in the front row of Thrash albums as a must-have album for any listener who wants to get into this wonderful genre.
This album will be the last in the band's original lineup, from now on the band will become a sort of Dave Mustaine solo project, around which the band's lineup will change over the years.