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A Brief History of Megadeth

Updated on December 11, 2017
FatFreddysCat profile image

I've been an obsessed hard rock/heavy metal fan and CD collector since the early 1980s. If it's got a good guitar riff and attitude, I'm in.

Megadeth's DYSTOPIA album cover
Megadeth's DYSTOPIA album cover | Source


Megadeth's fifteenth studio album, Dystopia, hit stores in January of 2016, representing the start of another new chapter in the history of Dave Mustaine's pioneering speed-metal unit. In early 2015 Mustaine welcomed two new band members into his Mega-Machine - guitarist Kiko Louriero (formerly of Brazilian power/progressive metal band Angra) and Lamb of God drummer Chris Adler, who replaced Chris Broderick and Shawn Drover, respectively. Broderick had played on Megadeth's last three albums and Drover had been a member of the band since 2004.

Megadeth 2015 L-R: Chris Adler (dr), Kiko Louriero (gtr), Dave Mustaine (gtr/vox), David Ellefson (bass)
Megadeth 2015 L-R: Chris Adler (dr), Kiko Louriero (gtr), Dave Mustaine (gtr/vox), David Ellefson (bass)

Dystopia was recorded in Tennessee in early 2015 and was produced by Mustaine and Toby Wright, who has worked with Alice in Chains, Sevendust, Slayer and KISS.

Megadeth provided a sneak peek from Dystopia, "Fatal Illusion," on October 1st and fans were pleased to hear that the track was more aggressive than most of the previous album, 2013's Super Collider. Mustaine has commented that the new material will feature "elements of speed and thrash metal, and a lot of the stuff that we've learned as songwriters, too."

The new Megadeth lineup has already played a number of live gigs in Asia and Australia, and recently played in China (!) for the first time ever. "Fatal Illusion" from the new album is included in the new live set and naturally, a full fledged worldwide concert tour for Dystopia will begin as soon as the album is released in 2016.

"Fatal Illusion" from DYSTOPIA:

A Brief History of Deth...

Prior to forming Megadeth in 1983, Dave Mustaine spent two years as lead guitarist and main songwriter in Metallica, who famously kicked him out of the band just after they arrived in New York to begin recording their now-classic debut album, Kill'Em All. As he rode back to L.A. on a Greyhound bus, Dave had plenty of time to plot his revenge. Within a few months, he had hooked up with bassist Ellefson, guitarist Chris Poland and drummer Gar Samuelson with grandiose plans to "out-metal" his old bandmates. As Metallica's star was rising meteorically in the metal underground at the time, record labels were naturally interested in Mustaine's new combo as well. Megadeth quickly inked a contract with then-hot metal indie Combat Records and unleashed the savage Killing Is My Business...and Business is Good! debut in 1985. The record's sheer ferocity more than made up for its lack of polish, with the standout track "Mechanix" (a song Dave had written for Metallica, which they reworked into "The Four Horsemen" on their debut) serving as a middle finger pointed directly at his former friends.

Capitol Records snapped up Megadeth in time for 1986's Peace Sells...But Who's Buying?, which was released in the same year as two other pinnacle albums in the Thrash Metal movement - Metallica's Master of Puppets and Slayer's Reign In Blood. (Wow, that was a hell of a year!) Peace Sells proved that Megadeth could hold their own in the increasingly crowded thrash scene, though the original lineup splintered in '87 due to rampant drug problems. Without missing a beat, Megadeth picked up new guitarist Jeff Young and drummer Chuck Behler and released 1988's So Far...So Good...So What!, which showed that the lineup troubles hadn't dimmed Megadeth's ferocity in the slightest. Once again, however, the band's continued fondness for narcotics hampered their progress and Young and Behler were both gone by '89. However, the best was still to come.

"Peace Sells" (1986)

"Rust" 'n' Peaks...

A newly sober Mustaine and Ellefson welcomed guitar wizard Marty Friedman and drummer Nick Menza aboard for 1990's Rust In Peace, a brilliantly shredding speed metal extravaganza that went platinum and finally cemented Megadeth's rep as a band that was not to be f**ked with. Mustaine/Ellefson/Friedman/Menza became Megadeth's longest running and most successful lineup, riding high on the Billboard charts and regularly selling millions of copies of albums like 1992's Countdown to Extinction and '94's Youthanasia. Megadeth managed to keep their metal flag flying in the face of the mid 90s grunge revolution, even cracking the Billboard top 10 with 1997's Cryptic Writings. Change was in the wind, however, and when '99's disastrous experiment Risk flopped, the band was dropped from Capitol Records and Friedman and Menza were out the door.

"Hangar 18" (1990)

Rebuilding the Beast...

2001's The World Needs A Hero sported a short lived lineup that included guitarist Al Pitrelli (Alice Cooper, Savatage) and drummer Jimmy DeGrasso (Y&T). The album was fairly well received but a black cloud of bad luck seemed to be following Mustaine, who suffered a freak nerve injury to his left arm during a 2002 rehab stint. Unable to play guitar due to his condition, Dave abruptly announced that Megadeth was no more, taking fans and his own bandmates by surprise. Within a year, however, he had recovered enough to pick up his six-string again and developed some killer new material which he intended to release as his first solo album. Backed by studio musicians (and prodigal guitarist Chris Poland, returning to the Mega-Fold for the first time since '87) the "solo" album ended up being released under the Megadeth banner as 2004's The System Has Failed due to contractual obligations. System garnered some of Dave's best reviews since Rust In Peace and he quickly formed a new Megadeth lineup to support the album on the road.

From there, Megadeth became something of a revolving door over the next several years as a never-ending cast of backing musicians came and went, including former White Lion bassist James LoMenzo, guitarist Glen Drover, and onetime Iced Earth bassist James MacDonough. Sanctuary Records closed up shop so Megadeth signed to legendary metal indie label Roadrunner Records for the release of '07's caustic United Abominations and '09's swift-n-savage Endgame. Dave Ellefson's return to the Deth fold in 2010 brought some much needed stability to the band. 2011's Th1rt3en and 2013's Super Collider marked the first time Megadeth had recorded two albums in a row with the same lineup (Mustaine, Ellefson, Drover and Broderick) since the late 1990s!

"Dystopia" (2016)

Super Collider sold 29,000 copies in the United States during its first week of release in 2013, which was good enough to land the #6 position on the Billboard Top 200 chart - beating the debut chart positions of 2011's Th1rt3en (#11), 2009's Endgame (#9) and 2007's United Abominations (#8). Reviews and fan reaction to Super Collider were mixed, however, and as of January 2014 the album had sold less than 100,000 copies in the United States.

Shawn Drover and Chris Broderick both announced their exits from Megadeth within 24 hours of each other In late November 2014. They quickly formed their own band, Act of Defiance, and released their debut album Birth and the Burial in June of 2015. Mustaine and Ellefson merely shrugged, drafted Louriero and Adler and threw themselves into work on Dystopia without missing a beat. Obviously, nothing stops the Mustaine Machine for long, and Dystopia certainly ranks as one of metal's finest releases of 2016. Bring it on Dave!!

MEGADETH select discography...

Killing Is My Business...and Business Is Good! - Combat, 1985

Peace Sells... But Who's Buying? - Capitol, 1986

So Far...So Good...So What! - Capitol, 1988

Rust In Peace - Capitol, 1990

Countdown to Extinction - Capitol, 1992

Youthanasia - Capitol, 1994

Hidden Treasures (EP) - Capitol, 1995

Cryptic Writings - Capitol, 1997

Risk - Capitol, 1999

Capitol Punishment: The Megadeth Years - Capitol, 1999

The World Needs A Hero - Sanctuary, 2001

Rude Awakening (live) - Sanctuary, 2002

Still Alive...and Well? - Sanctuary, 2002

The System Has Failed - Sanctuary, 2004

Greatest Hits: Back to the Start - Capitol, 2005

United Abominations - Roadrunner, 2007

Warchest (box set) - Capitol/EMI, 2007

That One Night: Live in Buenos Aires - Image, 2007

Endgame - Roadrunner, 2009

Th1rt3en - Roadrunner, 2011

Super Collider - Tradecraft/Universal, 2013

Dystopia - Tradecraft/Universal, 2016


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    • FatFreddysCat profile image

      Keith Abt 2 years ago from The Garden State

      Majorly updated with info about the new Megadeth album DYSTOPIA, due in January 2016!

    • FatFreddysCat profile image

      Keith Abt 2 years ago from The Garden State


    • sparkster profile image

      Sparkster Publishing 3 years ago from United Kingdom

      I have new-found respect for Mustaine after watching his interview with Alex Jones.

    • FatFreddysCat profile image

      Keith Abt 3 years ago from The Garden State


    • FatFreddysCat profile image

      Keith Abt 4 years ago from The Garden State

      Hi Sparkster... I saw Megadeth live in 1990 (Rust In Peace tour) opening for Judas Priest... They were ON FIRE that night!

      ...I met Dave Mustaine at a bookstore signing for his autobiography a couple of years ago and I told him, "I've waited 20 years to tell you this: you guys wiped the floor with Judas Priest that night." Haha!!

    • sparkster profile image

      Sparkster Publishing 4 years ago from United Kingdom

      Superb new album and a great band who I had the fortune to see live in the nineties - easily the most impressive live performance I have ever attended.

    • FatFreddysCat profile image

      Keith Abt 4 years ago from The Garden State

      Thanks for stopping by THR... as you can probably tell, I'm a bit of a Mega-Fanboy, so I'll check out the new album as usual. I will say I wasn't terribly impressed by the title track they sneak-peeked a few weeks ago but the newest one, "Kingmaker," is much more up my alley. I think it'll be a decent CD.

    • TheHeavyReview profile image

      TheHeavyReview 4 years ago

      I'll definitely listen to this, but honestly I don't have the highest hopes for it haha. Thanks for the article!

    • FatFreddysCat profile image

      Keith Abt 4 years ago from The Garden State

      Updated with a youTube of the new track "Kingmaker!"

    • FatFreddysCat profile image

      Keith Abt 4 years ago from The Garden State

      Updated with a YouTube of the new album's title track!

    • FatFreddysCat profile image

      Keith Abt 4 years ago from The Garden State

      Great song!!

    • mike102771 profile image

      Michael Collins 4 years ago from Lakemore, Ohio

      Sweating Bullets!!!!!

    • FatFreddysCat profile image

      Keith Abt 4 years ago from The Garden State

      Updated with a pic of the new album cover and a brief sneak-peek YouTube snippet of the new song, "Don't Turn Your Back!"

    • FatFreddysCat profile image

      Keith Abt 4 years ago from The Garden State