Welcome to Dissected, where we disassemble a band’s catalog, based on the exact science of personal opinion, late night debates, and the love of music. In this installment, we rank Megadeth’s discography thus far.
The origin of Megadeth is a tale of redemption for its central figure, Dave Mustaine. After being fired from Metallica for his erratic behavior and substance abuse, Mustaine was left to his own devices. He formed Megadeth as his new songwriting outlet, filling out the lineup with choice musicians who could execute his songs and ideas.
Throughout the band’s career, Mustaine has been the central force behind a revolving-door cast of guitarists, drummers, and bassists. He surrounds himself with those who can achieve his vision for the band. As Mustaine goes, Megadeth goes.
From their early years in the mid ’80s playing fiery thrash, the band moved to progressive metal epics with the help of lead shredder Marty Friedman, writing some of the most iconic heavy metal songs of all-time. Never content with stagnating, Mustaine would again shift the band toward a more alternative radio-friendly sound in the late ’90s. The change drew ire from longtime fans who’d grown accustomed to Megadeth’s more extreme speed metal, especially compared to the commercial shift made by the band’s inevitable rivals Metallica. While the trajectory of each band’s career share parallels, Mustaine turned Megadeth into a monolithic heavy metal institution and brand independent of his old band.
In 2019, Mustaine was diagnosed with throat cancer, but after completing treatments, he was back on the road and ready to record new music soon after. This persistence and artistic work ethic defines Megadeth, who’ve released 16 albums over their career, including their most recent effort, 2022’s The Sick, the Dying… and the Dead! While it wasn’t an easy task, Heavy Consequence took on the challenge of ranking the band’s colossal discography, retracing the career of the thrash metal legends. — Jon Hadusek
16. Super Collider (2013)
Symphony of Dissection (Analysis): Super Collider feels like a band that normally has a very strong identity suddenly struggling to find itself. The album starts off promising (although a bit like a Judas Priest album rather than Megadeth) with the blistering intro guitar riff to “Kingmaker”. However, the LP then meanders into a mid-tempo mess of thrash metal tropes played way too slowly, and this happens before “Kingmaker” even ends.
The title track “Supercollider” that comes up next certainly doesn’t help matters with its oddly ’70s rock influenced chorus. Releasing material as long as Megadeth had been by this point, it’s difficult not to repeat yourself or go off in strange directions and many criticized the album as a rehash of their previous material.
It seems like what really upset people was the band’s heading in a commercial direction again as they had done once before in their career. Fans felt they had been promised a heavier direction with Th1rt3en and then faced the same digression as they had in the 1990s with Countdown to Extinction — but with much less promising results.
Holy Worth (Best Song): Although it starts slow and shows a band that is unsure of what direction it is going, with introspective verses, a catchy chorus, and then a randomly heavy thrash ending, “Dance in the Rain” is one of the strongest songs on the album with interesting lyrics and blazing guitar work. It also sounds the most like a Megadeth song with Mustaine’s patented political rants about debt and the working man. It also has some great bass riffs by David Ellefson.
Tornado of Slop (Worst Song): “Beginning of Sorrow” is not a bad song really, if it were released by Disturbed or even In Flames, but not Megadeth. Even the amazing guitar solo work and tight song writing cannot mask the fact that it just doesn’t resonate as one would expects from the band and feels a little like pandering to the masses. The chorus is slow and plodding, albeit catchy. — Colette Claire
15. Risk (1999)
Symphony of Dissection: For years, Risk was considered not only the worst Megadeth album but also the worst album of the Big Four. The reason isn’t just a switch to rock over more overt metal; Metallica’s “Black Album” and Megadeth’s Countdown to Extinction each showed that thrash bands could make that transition and still produce thrilling, essential material. The issue was that the riffs seemed by this point to have wholly disappeared. The essential magic that occurred when Marty Friedman joined the band was seemingly fully exhausted, leaving songs that feel aimless especially when compared to the fiery records at the beginning of this period of the band’s life.
Countdown was a gamble, but each record after was a step down in quality as the band struggled to capture that essential fire that makes great rock and roll work, and by this point it seemed like nothing was left. The band seemingly agreed; following the release of Risk, Friedman quit the band. Years on and none of this material makes live sets any more, nor does it feature in compilations; even the band has seemingly agreed that this is a historical document at best and not representative of the spirit of the band.
Holy Worth: The final two songs of Risk form the “Time” suite that, in direct counter to the general shape of the album before it, is actually a strong offering. The “Time” suite measures up to anything on Countdown to Extinction or Youthanasia and shows the tantalizing promise that a more rock-oriented Megadeth offered. Based on this piece, it’s not hard to see why the band chose to explore this route.
Tornado of Slop: Admittedly, for worst songs, you have your pick of the litter here, but only one song made me audibly groan halfway through. “Breadline” tricks you at first, seeming like it might effloresce into a strong rock tune, before it turns to pop country shlock. From Megadeth. The band that wrote Peace Sells. It boggles the mind. Nearly every aspect of this song fails to click, either with itself or with the general notion of pleasant songcraft. Abysmal. — Langdon Hickman