Peace Sells… But Who’s Buying?


Capitol, 1986

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


Let’s be honest here: Dave Mustaine’s whole purpose in forming Megadeth was to annihilate his previous band, Metallica.

There’s no doubt that 1986 produced several legendary albums in the world of heavy metal, one of which was Megadeth’s sophomore release (and first for a major label), Peace Sells… But Who’s Buying? The songwriting was noticeably tighter on this album than on Killing Is My Business… And Business Is Good, but Megadeth wasn’t quite ready to ascend to the upper echelon of thrash metal. Not yet.

This disc in its original form has two major flaws. First is the poor mix, which buried Mustaine’s vocals near the back. While Mustaine might never have been the strongest vocalist in the genre, it would have helped to hear what he was growling and singing. (To be fair, the 2004 remaster remedies a good portion of this. It is interesting to note that the original Randy Burns mix—a few tracks of which are included in the 2004 remaster—don’t do much to alleviate the initial issue.)my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Second, Megadeth always seemed to want to put the pedal to the floor on these songs, and not take real time to explore more melodic aspects to their music—I know, a strange thing to say about a heavy metal album. Perhaps they considered such moments in the music to be weakness, but it might have opened up a new appreciation for the musicianship of Mustaine, guitarist Chris Poland, bassist Dave Ellefson and drummer Gar Samuelson.

On the other hand, if you consider how difficult the recording sessions were due to the numerous addictions affecting the band (and which would affect Mustaine for several more years), it’s a miracle that this album is as powerful as it really is. The title track is recognized as a classic—and rightfully so—but other tracks like “My Last Words” and “Devil’s Island” make strong claims for the title as well. And the musicianship is quite solid too; the dual leads between Mustaine and Poland help cement Megadeth as a force to be reckoned with.

The one other misstep here is the obligatory cover. Following a trend started with their previous album (and which would continue for one more disc), Megadeth relies on taking an old chestnut and beating it into the ground. Last time around, it was Nancy Sinatra; this time, Willie Dixon’s “I Ain’t Superstitious” gets the call—and it was hardly necessary, as no new ground is broken by turning an old blues standard into a heavy metal tune.

Peace Sells… But Who’s Buying? marked the beginning of a tumultuous period for Megadeth. Poland and Samuelson would exit the band shortly after the album was completed, starting a history of revolving lineups for the group. In the end, this disc is a slight improvement over their debut effort, but still suggested that better things were to come from Megadeth.

Rating: B-

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



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