MEGADETH — Killing Is My Business... And Business Is Good! (review)

MEGADETH — Killing Is My Business... And Business Is Good! album cover Album · 1985 · Thrash Metal Buy this album from MMA partners
4/5 ·
Vim Fuego
After Dave Mustaine's departure from Metallica, it was inevitable he would put together a band of his own. What wasn't inevitable was that it would be as successful as Megadeth turned out to be.

His fortuitous teaming up with Dave Ellefson provided the perfect foil for his creative outputs, and Megadeth was born. There is no doubting his creativity as both a songwriter and guitar player, but with this album he had a problem with being too short and too soft.

Y'see, "Killing Is My Business...And Business Is Good" isn't very heavy. Sure, it's fast, it's got riffs to the eyeballs, and it's got solos and the standard mid-1980s thrash lyrics, but it's about as heavy as a Motley Crüe album. It also isn't very long, only just scraping in over the half hour mark, with the inclusion of a cover and a half ("These Boots", made famous by Nancy Sinatra and "Mechanix", which Mustaine wrote with Metallica).

The guitars here have none of the bite or crunch of Megadeth's masterworks "Peace Sells...But Who's Buying" and "So Far, So Good...So What!". Mustaine and Chris Poland are both credited as lead guitar, neglecting the rhythm guitar role, but many of the riffs play more like solos anyway, and the thin production lets the talents of both Mustaine and Poland to shine through

However, it is refreshing to hear Dave Ellefson's bass, often lost in the mix in later recordings, as it twangs and rattles, particularly on "These Boots" and "Rattlehead". Ellefson is no Cliff Burton, but his bass lines were hardly the straightforward bottom end boost for the rhythm guitar which a lot of bands at the time focused on.

The dynamics on the album are excellent, particularly for a debut. "Looking Down The Cross" in particular builds anticipation with a complex little guitar introduction, building momentum all the time, before bursting into a crushing riff, one of the best on the album. Mustaine puts forth his best vocal performance; sticking with the now familiar mid-range snarl, rather than straining for high notes beyond his vocal register. The song climaxes with a neck-snapping mid-pace riff, over which Mustaine almost chants the refrain "looking down the cross/speak no evil".

Megadeth was the only band to ever push Metallica in the battle for thrash supremacy during the 80s, and while this album showed potential, Megadeth was still well behind the game. As far as debuts go, it was not as amateurish as Anthrax's "Fistful Of Metal", nor as cheesy as Slayer's "Show No Mercy", but was well below the standard of what the leading bands of the genre were producing in 1985, and it was short a good two or three songs. This was Megadeth's first shaky step on the way to the top.
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