Youthanasia

Megadeth

Capitol, 1994

REVIEW BY: Jeff Clutterbuck

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 04/11/2009

If there has been one thing I have learned from my exploratory ventures into the world of heavy metal, it is that one cannot define the genre in a way satisfactory to its fans. Does the lyrical content reflect enough on death and destruction? Are the riffs fast and furious and played at breakneck speeds? One would think those two qualities are the foundations of metal, but records such as Metallica do not necessarily adhere to such standards.

The first samplings of Megadeth I had experienced was the seminal classic from 1990, Rust In Peace, followed by Peace Sells…But Who’s Buying? Both records firmly were established in the mental picture I had of heavy metal. Upon a recommendation from a metalhead determined to ensnare me into the genre, I picked up Youthanasia shortly after.

To label Youthanasia as Megadeth’s Black Album would be doing the band a small disservice, being that their sound had begun to evolve on my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 Countdown To Destruction, and would continue with albums like Cryptic Writings. Yet for someone listening to it for the first time after hearing their ‘80s work, that descriptor is apt.

It quickly became apparent that this was a Megadeth that still retained their instrumental brilliance, but had “grown up” from a musical standpoint. No longer were Dave Mustaine and Co. content to build an album from the ground up via shredding and visions of an apocalyptic future. The melodies were slower, yet retained their power, and Mustaine was not afraid to broach familiar metal subjects such as suicide (“A Tout Le Monde”) and incest (“Family Tree”) in a more personal fashion.

A complaint against early thrash metal was a lack of melody in the music. By that, one could infer someone meant, “This doesn’t sound like popular music”. In the ‘90s, however, bands like Metallica and Megadeth continued to prove that their roots as the fastest, heaviest groups out there did not mean that slowing down would corrupt the essence of who they were.

A track such as “I Thought I Knew It All” or “A Tout Le Monde” highlights that very fact. Both are incredibly melodic, featuring honest-to-goodness hooks within the refrains, yet nobody would confuse the two as being anything but metal. All the core elements are still present, it is just that the final product is a slight tuning from what had come before it.

In general, the majority of the material on Youthanasia works; however, the album begins to drag towards the conclusion. “Blood Of Heroes” and “Black Curtains” fail to draw attention to themselves, and the final track “Victory” is nothing more than an exercise in self-promotion. Mustaine proceeds to name-check songs and albums that were put out by the band in years prior, his drug addiction and subsequent victory over it.  While assuredly a welcome sentiment, the song comes off as an unnecessary and forced career recap.

Since my first spin of Youthanasia, I have had the pleasure of expanding my discography of metal, moving into faster and heavier albums than the one featured here. Still, the appreciation I have for Youthanasia has not diminished as an entryway; this is still metal and still Megadeth. That should be good enough for anyone.

Rating: B+

User Rating: Not Yet Rated


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© 2009 Jeff Clutterbuck and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Capitol, and is used for informational purposes only.