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The top 20 best Megadeth songs ranked

10. Angry Again (1993)

Deservedly, Last Action Hero is one of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s most panned and forgettable films, though its soundtrack avoided a similar failing fate. Lining up alongside Anthrax, Alice in Chains, AC/DC and Queensryche, this is an irascible, snarling finger point at all the negative elements/factions/individuals in Mustaine’s life at the time via vicious baritone and ascending guitar riposte. Dave was pissed and after emerging from a solitary and expressive studio session, everyone knew it.


9. Good Mourning/Black Friday (1986)

This epic beast commences with a downcast guitar duel reminiscent of modern jazz-bos Bill Frisell and Fred Frith before diving headfirst into masterful thrash. Inspired by the shady characters surrounding original drummer Dijon Carruthers, the song utilises circuitous riffing, glorious half-step abuse and the “I’m out to destroy and I will cut you down” full stop that totally echoes Elvis.


8. À Tout le Monde (1994)

Mustaine simultaneously summons his inner Francophone, Judas Priest fanboy and Bob Seger balladeer, weaving it all around end-of-life moroseness. It’s easy to laugh at the chorus’ linguistic attempt (and we’re sure French folks everywhere did), but this track oozes emotional heft like tears at a funeral. That it was originally banned by MTV, was blamed for Montréal’s Dawson College campus shooting before becoming the cities’ unofficial theme and was re-recorded in 2007 with Lacuna Coil’s Cristina Scabbia demonstrates its power and range.


7. Wake Up Dead (1986)

Possessing one of the most oddball arrangements in metal history, this tale of abusive relationship dysfunction wins creative awards. Everything traditional about metal’s old guard was thrown out the window like Russian opposition politicians as influence was drawn from new age linearity and jazz’s jagged randomness to push metal screaming into the 90s, even though it was only 1986.


6. In My Darkest Hour (1988)

Reportedly written by Mustaine in response to his former bandmates failure to inform him of Cliff Burton’s death, this owns the distinction of being Megadeth’s first venture into the burgeoning thrash ballad movement. The disdain and self-loathing is clearly evident when Dave curls his lip to discuss how no one has been there to care for him during needy times to the tune of solemn stadium rock before the speed metal instinct takes over.


5. Symphony Of Destruction (1992)

Megadeth were taking broader steps toward the mainstream by 1992, but past habits weren’t easily shaken. Symphony Of Destruction highlights that with divergent bass holding the fort for ire-soaked vocals and catchy staccato shots aching to shatter confines and speed up. Whether it was them changing with the times or maturing, roots were being shed and it arguably started here.


4. Peace Sells (1986)

This was destined to be a hit from the off, what with its earworm bass, anthemic chorus and George Thorogood-like six-stringed call-and-response underpinning the verses. Once it became the intro theme to MTV News and turned kids everywhere into poly-sci experts (cue the “I want to watch the news!” “This is the news!” video scene), Peace Sells transcended hooky mid-paced metal to post up as an iconic slice of culture.


3. Hangar 18 (1990)

If the strumming introducing this Rust in peace favourite sounds like a revved up nod to Metallica’s The Call Of Ktulu that’s because that’s what it was originally written for. But Megadeth shunned creatures beneath the sea in favour of those from the cosmos with this ode to political mistrust and the US government’s harbouring of captured aliens. Cue the classic line: “Military intelligence/Two words combined that can’t make sense.”


2. Tornado Of Souls (1990)

If ever there was a bridge between heads-down thrash, balls-out rock’n’roll and pocket watches-out hellzapoppin’ swing, it’s this. The riff and instantly hummable chorus pop and lock like music school nerds raised on Bay Area thrash’s second wave, but much credit should be bestowed upon Menza’s soulful swing on the ride, his snare ghost notes and disco-like hi-hat work for giving this song its inimitable groove.


2. Tornado Of Souls (1990)

If ever there was a bridge between heads-down thrash, balls-out rock’n’roll and pocket watches-out hellzapoppin’ swing, it’s this. The riff and instantly hummable chorus pop and lock like music school nerds raised on Bay Area thrash’s second wave, but much credit should be bestowed upon Menza’s soulful swing on the ride, his snare ghost notes and disco-like hi-hat work for giving this song its inimitable groove.


1. Holy Wars… The Punishment Due (1990)

Anyone worth their salt saw this one coming a mile away. The anger of Mustaine being called out for flapping his yap and weighing in on the Irish Troubles during a tour stop at the Antrim Forum in Northern Ireland is palpable, as is the frustration of the janky-sounding previous album and his former band continuing to best him in the charts. It’s all filtered through incendiary art. The song’s stellar and lengthy main riff is one of thrash metal’s crowning achievements as it ties together full-force vocal gnarl, exotic sitar simulation, a two-part tempo juxtaposition and three blazing solos.

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