Hell hath no fury like a thrash metal musician scorned. When Dave Mustaine put together Megadeth in 1983, he was driven by one thing: revenge on his former band Metallica, who had unceremoniously dumped him a few weeks before they went in to the studio record what became their landmark debut album, Kill ’Em All.
It took Megadeth two more years to get out of the traps with their own debut, by which time Mustaine had earned a reputation as The Demon Brat Of Thrash, a volatile motormouth with venom and smack running through his veins. If Metallica looked like The Band Most Likely To Succeed, then Megadeth were The Band Most Likely To End Up Dead In A Dumpster Somewhere.
All the chaos and spite in Mustaine’s head was poured into Killing Is My Business… And Business Is Good, a record that almost tripped over its own feet in an attempt to outpace and outplay his old group. They would have succeeded, too, had the band not blown their recording budget on drugs and burgers, resulting in a production that neutered these junkyard dogs.
That was rectified once already on a 2002 reissue. But Mustaine is nothing if not permanently dissatisfied, and the album has been beefed up even more on this absolutely, unequivocally (allegedly) definitive edition. In fairness, it finally sounds like a proper album – The Skull Beneath The Skin, Rattlehead and the deathless Mechanix (aka Metallica’s Four Horsemen) have muscle to match the velocity.
But it’s the live tracks from ’86 and ’87 bundled on to this reissue that make it worth the price of entry. Apparently ripped from a bunch of rough-as-arseholes VHS tapes that Mustaine found in his loft – and sounding like it – they capture the band in all their unstable, narcotic glory. “I’ve never been in such a hospitable crowd where they throw drugs at you,” Mustaine cackles after a feral Chosen Ones. At another point, he calls on a member of the audience to meet him backstage, although it’s not clear if it’s to fight or screw.
It was precisely that fucked-up streak that made Megadeth such a thrilling proposition back in the day, one who thrived on the madness that surrounded them. It was unsustainable, of course – Mustaine grew up, cleaned up and has spent the last 30 years changing the band’s line-up. But as this reissue proves, it was fantastic while it lasted.