Peace Sells, But Who’s Buying?, by Megadeth
Reviewed by Stuart Legg
This is not my first encounter with Megadeth. I suppose my VERY first encounter with them was less through music and more as a concept
When I was in comprehensive school, we had a supply teacher who was a Jehovah’s witness. You may be wondering how I know this. I know this because in my memory, which is of course perfect and unclouded by the passing of decades, there was not a single lesson over the many occasions he taught us that he failed to inform us of this fact. His other favourite subject was how various bands were working for the devil and leading us down the path to damnation, to quote him directly “The Beastie Boys are evil”.
On non-uniform days some kids would wear metal band T Shirts. They did this firstly to test the boundaries and secondly, I suspect, to get a rise out of that teacher.
Artwork that looks equally at home painted on a fairground ghost train or a leather jacket almost certainly ensured a “free” lesson given that he could all too readily be provoked into spending it atop his favourite soapbox rather than covering any curriculum content. That, I suspect, was my first encounter with the concept of Megadeth.
Dave Mustaine provides both lead vocals and guitars on this album as indeed throughout the Megadeth Discography. Mustaine uses the medium of this album to explore relationships, politics and even black magic (The Conjuring). The latter I am sure being an ideal opportunity to get back at his troubled relationship with religion, having been raised as Jehovah’s Witness himself which he subsequently said ruined his childhood. In that regard I’m sure my opening autobiographical salvo would at least raise a smile.
Mustaine’s vocal range varies between deep and dark, Osbourne-esque wailings and occasionally an almost conversational semi-spoken delivery particularly evident on the titular “Peace Sells” track.
However it’s the sheer mastery of rapid fire thrash guitar on display here that I find most impressive. This is guitar hero on expert octopus mode. I think my favourite track is “Devil’s Island” due to the high octane galloping guitar style. The cover “I Ain’t Superstitious” is the odd track out on this album, its blues roots being apparent even when overlayed with metal guitars and menacing delivery.
Overall I’ll give this album 5/10. I actually have a couple of later Megadeth albums in my collection which I prefer, Countdown to Extinction being a case in point. I’m sure Thrash Metal afficionados will cite this as an early classic album and indeed we must acknowledge that it was and remains hugely influential to the genre, but I am free to state my preferences unbound by such constraints.