On November 1, 1994, "Megadeth's" sixth studio album, "Youthanasia", was released.
The name of the album comes from a combination of the words Youth and Euthanasia, with criticism of the American society, that ostensibly "kills" its youth. The album cover with the babies hung by the older woman upside down, drying, blending with the album title and the theme song lyrics "Youthanasia", which indicate: "Who's believe we'd spend more shippin' drugs and guns, Than to educate our sons?" And further: "we've been hung out to dry...".
"Youthanasia" continues with the line of the previous album "Countdown to Extinction" and includes further softening of the band's music, towards slower, less complex, and more melodic songs. This album deepened the split among the band's fans, that began in the previous album, when those veterans who accompanied "Megadeth" from the beginning hoped that the deviation from the path was temporary and that the band would return to the fast and nervous thrash of "Peace Sells... but Who's Buying?" And "Rust In Peace".
The band wrote most of the album in Phoenix, Arizona, where Dave Mustaine moved with his family in 1994 as part of his rehab process. Bassist Dave Ellefson and guitarist Marty Friedman also moved to Phoenix to make it easier for the band to work on the album.
The goal was to rent a large house to serve as a studio for the band, but the band eventually rented a huge warehouse and began building the studio there from scratch, which took them of a long time than scheduled. For more on building the studio and the process of writing and recording the album, watch the documentary that accompanied the process of creating the album, here:
During the writing process, the band members realized that what worked best for them during this period were actually slower, more melodic songs, with "hooks" and harmonies. Dave's singing also took a significant turn, he screamed less and sang more. Dave Mustaine noted that the change was not out of conscious choice and that the band did not really change, but "evolved". He said he was sure that whoever asked for songs on the radio would recognize with certainty that it was "Megadeth".
Although the writing process in the new studio was very productive, a lot of friction arose between the band members. Most of the confrontations evolved around Dave Mustaine's creative control, and to deal with it and make the writing process democratic, the band had to go through group therapy sessions to help them get through the recording process in peace. It can be said that the group therapies helped the other members to get more creative freedom and even Dave Mustaine himself defined the album as "very much a total band effort", but at the same time, this whole situation charged Dave a high price. He went back to alcohol and drugs and even before the album was completed he was already back in rehab.
Despite all the problems and despite the change in style towards the mainstream, "Youthanasia" turned out to be an excellent and consistent album that we really like and even manage to enjoy today more than it was when it came out.
Two singles were released from the album: the first, "Train of Consequences" which includes the crazy riff with the obscure palm-muted strings. The song deals with the problem of gambling and its destructive impact on society in America.
The second is "Tout Le Monde" which is without a doubt one of the band's biggest "hits". The French sentence that Dave sings says the following words: "To all the world, To all my friends, I love you, I have to leave". These words were interpreted as referring to suicide, as they seemed like a part of a suicide note, so the song was initially boycotted by MTV. However, later after MTV executives received explanations from Dave, they returned the song to the channel rotation. Dave Mustaine explained to the network that the song refers to his dream. He dreamed that his deceased mother came from heaven to tell him that she loved him, and the song describes the dialogue with her.
But the album is definitely not just these two successful singles.
The opening song "Reckoning Day" refers to the Apocalypse, the Day of Judgment, in which we will all be paid for our actions. Dave Mustaine got the idea for the song after watching the 1993 film "Tombstone," in which Val Kilmer says the sentence: "Make no mistake. It's not revenge he's after. It's a reckoning".
"Addicted to Chaos" with the melodic riff and the catchy chorus, speaks of the loss of a close friend who helped Dave in difficult times. In this song, you can really hear the "heaviness" that fell on the band with the slow rhythm that really forces Marty Friedman to adjust his solos to the new situation.
"The Killing Road" deals with shows, tours, and life on the road. It shows the not-so-glamorous side of the "rock star" and the heavy price he has to pay. As you know Dave Mustaine has always been in conflict on this matter. On the one hand, he did not like the travels, and on the other hand, he liked the moments on stage and the pure direct connection with the fans. Dave's singing picks up gear here and Friedman's solo is just awesome !!!
"Blood of Heroes" opens up the second side of the vinyl with a quiet and melodic intro. Without a doubt one of the album's catchy songs, with a riff that corresponds with the heavy metal bands of the seventies and eighties.
"Family Tree" refers to a horrible story of rape and incest within the family. It criticizes things that happen within the family and is sometimes kept secret. It is one of the strongest songs on the album, both in terms of lyrics and in terms of melody, and performance.
"Black Curtains" deals with death and destruction and includes some riffs in the direction of "groove metal". It opens with a reference to the murderer Charles Manson, who wrote on the walls of his crime scene the lyrics of the Beatles' song "Helter Skelter."
The album ends with "Victory" a song that deals with the dissonance between the way people see Megadeth as a "victory" or success, and the hard feelings and upheavals Dave went through on the way there. Dave reveals here everything "I had fingers in my eyes, needles in my arteries" and he is referring to his struggle with drugs. "Knife through my heart" Dave screams and with no doubt refers to his former band and the "betrayal" he felt when he was Fired From Metallica. The lyrics of the song also mention the names of the band's great songs during its career.
"Youthanasia" may have expanded the split in the band's fan base, but it received good reviews. It may not have been as successful as the band's previous album, but it still reached number four on the Billboard charts and sold very well. The band will not be able to replicate this achievement until the album "Dystopia" released in 2016.