MEGADETH — Last Rites (review)

MEGADETH — Last Rites album cover Demo · 1984 · Thrash Metal Buy this album from MMA partners
5/5 ·
Vim Fuego
In hindsight, the rise and rise of Megadeth now seems like it was always going to happen, but it didn’t necessarily have to be. April 11, 1983 was the fateful day. Dave Mustaine was sacked from Metallica, and sent home on a bus. Imagine a seething Mustaine sitting on that bus, travelling cross country for days on end, plotting his ultimate revenge on Ulrich and Hetfield. Being ejected from Metallica, which would become the biggest band in metal, didn’t mean success was still predestined. Look what happened to Ron McGovney. So here is Mustaine’s revenge – a brand new band with a mega deadly name, and a fucking blistering demo.

The piano intro to “Last Rites / Loved to Deth” is a bit wobbly, but hey, this is a demo from 1984, so it’s not gonna sound perfect, but who cares about some tinkling keys. What this is about is blistering, seminal thrash metal. And here’s the part which should have scared the bejesus out of the pair of Metalli-egos: this was faster than what they played. “Last Rites / Loved to Deth” is easily recognisable as the same song from “Killing is my Business…And Business is Good”. When the soloing finally kicks in 43 seconds into the song, it is a tornado of notes. It’s hard to tell where the lead guitars from the rhythm.

At the same time, bear witness to the birth of one of the most important partnerships in metal, as Dave Ellefson’s bass is the thunder to Mustaine’s lightning. The mix on the demo is such that the bass is highly prominent.

This version is, of course, not as polished as the one on “Killing is my Business…”, but it has a rough, raucous charm which has been polished out on the album. It’s also 30 seconds shorter.

The next song would have made Ulrich shit bricks and Hefield crap crowbars. “Mechanix” was a song Mustaine had written before joining Metallica. It appeared on Metallica’s “No Life ‘til Leather” demo, slightly slower than this, and was reborn as “The Four Horsemen” on “Kill ‘em All” with new lyrics and a much reduced tempo.

“Mechanix” is better.

You reckon Dave was bothered his song had been recycled? Listen to this and see what you think. Megadeth’s version of the song has always been more vicious, and here it is with added venom. The lyrics are inane, but that doesn’t really matter, because they are delivered with such bile. Never one to turn down a challenge, Mustaine couldn’t find a vocalist to do his music justice, so he took on vocal duties himself. The rudimentary melodies meld perfectly with the song. And the final solo is another note storm, faster, more complex, and ultimately superior to the one recorded by Kirk Hammett. Megadave knew this, and finished it with a satisfied chuckle.

“The Skull Beneath The Skin” is more chaotic than the album version. Mustaine’s guitar seems to slip deeper into the mix, bringing out Ellefson’s bass even more prominently. The solo is a psychotic speedfreak blast. The song is over too soon, and like its predecessors, it several seconds shorter than the later studio versions.

This demo reached legendary status among underground metal tape traders, up there with the two Metallica demos, the Hellhammer demos, and Exodus’ various early demos. Why? Because it deserved to.
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666sharon666 wrote:
more than 2 years ago
Reviewer's Challenge Points: 3

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