As the 90′s started for Megadeth they were in the middle of a line up change, having hired Nick Manza as their new drummer they were still in need of a new lead guitarist, they auditioned guys like Slash, and Dimebag Darrell before settling with Marty Friedman and starting work on what would be their fourth album.
In 1990 Megadeth released the seminal classic and my personal favourite ‘Rust In Peace’ which not only proved just what a technical monster the band was, but also how far they had come as songwriters, it features classics such as Hangar 18 and Holy Wars….The Punishment Due (which was inspired by the events in Northern Ireland) and was another album that pushed the band further into the spotlight, and saw the band embark on the Clash Of The Titans co- headline tour with Slayer and support bands Testament and Suicidal Tendencies, it would also be the last album the band made that can be classed as a true speed metal album as they would take a turn in direction with album number five.
The decade that followed the release of Rust In Peace saw Megadeth go through a number of changes, both in the bands lineup as well as their sound, and is a decade that truly polarizes the bands legion of fans. For it was this 10 year period where the band started experimenting with and in some cases toning down their sound in a bid for the mainstream.
Countdown to Extinction was a truly heavy album that brought about some much loved singles with it,but also a new style of Megadeth album, things were slowed down and more deliberately paced, it showed that the band had grown as songwriters but alienated a lot of people that wanted a speedier thrashier offering, but little did they know this was just a taste of things to come, interestingly enough as much as it isolated the bands core fanbase it would go on to become the bands most commercially successful album ever. It was a risk (no pun intended) that paid off and led the band further away from their roots, to this day there are people in my friend group (Scott in particular) who consider this their favourite Megadeth album.
In 1993 whilst on tour promoting the Countdown to Extinction album, the band was invited to join Metallica onstage at their Milton Keynes show claiming that tensions between the two bands was seemingly over, the band also toured with Aerosmith but were abruptly pulled from the tour after negative comments from Dave Mustaine. Megadeth also recorded a song ‘Angry Again’ for the film ‘Last Action Hero’
1994′s Youthanasia is another one of my personal favourite albums in the Megadeth catalogue, but it is by no means a thrash album,it is an incredibly dark album, featuring an album cover depicting babies hanging from a washing line, and songs about incest, dark magic, death and addiction. Its as dark as it is catchy and features a more slick and polished Megadeth than we had previously seen before, the band captured the 8 month recording process on a home video entitled ‘Evolver’ the album was a hit, and spurred Dave Mustaine further towards achieving the number one album status he craved, and now we get to Megadeth the pop years.
1997 rolled around, after 3 years of extensive touring behind Youthanasia Megadeth released Cryptic Writings. This would be the last album that Nick Menza would play on as a part of Megadeth, it was also be the album to give Megadeth a number one single in the form of Trust, as well as 3 other top ten singles, ans spawn a 4 part comic book series called The Cryptic Writings Of Megadeth (Good luck tracking those bad boys down). All of these however would not translate into album sales and things began to fall apart,with in fighting and management changes affecting the band, on the outside things looked great, but inside the apple was started to rot at the core.
Megadeth toured throughout most of 1997, and in 1998 they recorded two songs for Duke Nukem including a reworking of the games theme.
After the radio success of Cryptic Writings, Dave Mustaine allowed producer Dann Huff further creative control over the writing process this time, which lead to Risk in 1999, the most uninspired Megadeth album to date,an album full of shiny pop disco songs designed to bother airwaves and fill out stadiums, it was by no means a Megadeth album and one that damn near killed the band.It was both a commercial and critical disaster and lead the band to do some serious thinking going forward as the millennium was upon us.
In part 3 I will be taking a look at the bands rebirth in the 00′s, their legacy, what the future holds for the band as well as some of my personal favourite Megadeth memories.