The 25 Best Metal Bands of All Time!

The 25 Best Metal Bands of All Time, #7: Megadeth

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The 25 Best Metal Bands of All Time Megadeth-group-photo-1985

MetalSucks recently polled more than a hundred of metal’s most revered musicians, critics, journalists, artists, publicists, and industry insiders to find out which 25 bands represent the very BEST in the history of metal. Fuck Metallica, fuck prog, today we hail …

Megadeth
64 Votes
913 Points

Better than any band, Megadeth folded virtuosity into metal. Think of frontman Dave Mustaine, godly bassist David Ellefson, and crew as four studious Fred Flintstones who suffered a sudden noggin-bonking and came to reborn as drug-gobbling mega-contrarian thrashers with a shared hard-on for showing up Metallica. This particular race — the race to proficiency and its integration into normal songs — was won by Megadeth. And they won effortlessly, as though they had granted everybody a head start and then were spotted roaring up on the outside lane with cigs dangling from mouths.

Effortless? you ask. Yeah, I hear ya. After all, Megadeth’s main dude was always locked in a one-sided death struggle with his former employers in Metallica. His band’s vibe was always marred by drug noise and personnel gaffes. His line-up changed a lot. And yeah he’s always come off as a dick. But that shit was invisible once the men of Megadeth kicked into a song. For even by ’80s standards, they hardly deigned to flaunt their chops. Their skills were displayed coolly, and only to listeners who could recognize the non-wanker type of virtuosity, and with no disfigurement of their genre. Sounded effortless.

But dazzle is meaningless without Mustaine’s rare and distinct “song structure”: Governed by a need to eclipse his competitors and bug-eyed on narcotics, he heedlessly departed thrash metal’s jurisdiction — the one shaped by the traditions of hard rock, blues, and so on — in order to assume a good position in the concurrent race to songwriting glory. The songs-skills balance is the key to Megadeth’s second, third, and fourth albums, and its power is illustrated by the idea that it ruined Megadeth fans for the post-Dream Theater world: Never would we accept a virtuosic band whose songcraft didn’t cut it. We knew, because of Mustaine, that the rock song form could be tweaked to eschew a real chorus for a string of competing themes, and could lay out a few acts in place of the verse-chorus cycle. We knew that a pastiche of mini-songs (“Wake Up Dead” “Holy Wars … The Punishment Due”) could mount and uncork tension in the same measure as an epic (say, “Ride The Lightning”) or a raging single (eg. “Angel Of Death”). We knew that a sophisticated arrangement could travel to all corners of the room instead of moving all of its parts at once in its center.

So, yes, Megadeth is one of metal’s best bands ever thanks to their performances in studio and on stage, and thanks to their canon of singular yet comprehensible jams. Still, for better or worse, Megadeth has always, always made a fan work for the pay. It’s a seduction in the Bizarro World in which Mustaine spits in our mouths, we barf, repeat. His very existence was an opposition to outside entities (Metallica, everyone), his personal struggles were alternately his armor and burden, his politics went from cute to nonsense, and he’s never passed on a claim for his own credit or on a chance to tar his former partners. He mangled his own discography with awful re-recordings. And the Megadeth organization only bows to the Rolling Stones at the sport of absorbing talented sidemen then depositing them in the abyss. Eek.

Worst of all, once their noggins were re-bonked with an “Enter Sandman”-shaped club, Megadeth asked fans the ultimate indulgence: To kiss goodbye the chorus-less, non-linear Megadeth epic and to stand by while Mustaine attempted to master a new language: boring heavy rock singles. Sure, it’s not like we hadn’t been primed and even poised to embrace: “Peace Sells” (1986) was a slick novelty, “502” (1988) is a bigger, badder “Radar Love,” and “Tornado Of Souls” (1990) hinted at an effortless mastery of riff-stuffed pop music. But that’s not the reality of 1992’s Countdown To Extinction. At its best, that first foray into commercial headbanging is eminently skip-able. It attempts the idiom of the band’s inferiors and fails. It’s a PhD. in linguistics failing horribly at street slang. It was the end of Megadeth and the birth of the The Dave Mustaine Band, a touring company of quick hires and heated departures all set about the task of propping up the Megadeth discography’s still diminishing returns.

That may sound like an argument for ranking Megadeth low on a list of metal’s greatest bands, but it’s the opposite: For even when Mustaine’s whims plotted his band’s demise, first it was his other whims that made his band immortal. As the cliche goes, his first era were so stunning that even he can’t sour it, this Frankenstein that uses two fingers to choke out his creator’s new monster. Like a chef whose bungled attempts at stadium fare can’t overshadow his dazzling touch with sushi. Like a magnificent bastard who lands you a deal on a sweet new hot tub and then takes a dump in it. Behold, the arsenal of Megadeth.

THE LIST SO FAR:

#8 — Death (57 Votes, 778 Points)
#9  — Motorhead (42 Votes, 622 Points)
#10 – Carcass (42 Votes, 516 Points)

#11 – Cannibal Corpse (40 Votes, 510 Points)
#12 – Anthrax (42 Votes, 497 Points)
#13 – Sepultura (41 Votes, 444 Points)
#14 – Dio (33 Votes, 433 Points)
#15 – Mercyful Fate (31 Votes, 419 Points)
#16 – Morbid Angel (33 Votes, 406 Points)
#17 – Meshuggah (32 Votes, 377 Points)

#18 – Opeth (30 Votes, 364 Points)
#19 – Testament (33 Votes, 347 Points)
#20 – At The Gates (28 Votes, 331 Points)
#21 – AC/DC (17 Votes, 313 Points)

#22 – Celtic Frost (24 Votes, 310 Points)
#23 – Ozzy Osbourne (21 Votes, 290 Points)
#24 – Napalm Death (22 Votes, 278 Points)
#25 – Lamb of God (29 Votes, 277 Points)

VIDEO CONTENT PRESENTED BY QELLO CONCERTS:

THE ILLUSTRIOUS PANEL OF VOTERS:

Chris Alfano – East of the Wall, Gear Gods
Paul Allender – White Empress, ex-Cradle of Filth
Rob Arnold – The Elite, ex-Chimaira, ex-Six Feet Under
Alan Averill (aka A.A. Nemtheanga) – Primordial
Chuck B.B. – Artist
Matt Bachand – Shadows Fall
Micke Berg – Below
Chuck Billy – Testament
Randy Blythe – Lamb of God
Paul Booth – Last Rites Tattoo and Art Gallery
Jake Bowen – Periphery
Terry Butler – Obituary
Liz Ciavarella-Brenner – Publicist, Earsplit PR
Blake Charlton – Ramming Speed
Richard Christy – Charred Walls of the Damned, ex-Death, ex-Iced Earth, ex-Control Denied, The Howard Stern Show
Monte Conner – President, Nuclear Blast Entertainment
Bruce Corbitt – Rigor Mortis, Warbeast
Doc Coyle – ex-God Forbid
Sergeant D. – MetalSucks, Stuff You Will Hate
Topon Das – Fuck the Facts, Merdarahta
Anso DF – MetalSucks
Peter Dolving – Rosvo, ex-The Haunted
Ryan J. DowneySuperhero Artist Management
Sacha Dunable – Intronaut, Bereft, Dunable Guitars
Vince Edwards – Head of Publicity, Metal Blade Records
Excretakano – MetalSucks
Exmortus
Extreme Management Group
D.X. Ferris – Slayer ScholarMetalSucks
Ryan Fleming – Black Table
Jon Freeman – Publicist, Freeman Promotions
Matthew Friesen – Culted
Ville Friman – Insomnium
Mike Gitter – Senior Director of A&R, Razor & Tie
Frank Godla – Metal Injection, Meek is Murder
Mike Greene – Director of Digital Marketing, Razor & Tie
Shane Handel – Set and Setting
Jeff Hodak – Head of Sales, Razor & Tie
Terence Hannum – Locrian
John Hoffman – Weekend Nachos
Mark Hunter – ex-Chimaira
Don JamiesonThat Metal Show
Daniel Jansson – Culted
John Jarvis – Pig Destroyer, Fulgora
Gaz Jennings – Death Penalty, ex-Cathedral
Patrik Jensen – The Haunted
Rick Jimenez – Extinction A.D.
Kassa – Below
Mirai Kawashima – Sigh
“Grim” Kim KellyMetalSucks
Zeena Koda
Erik Kluiber – Gypsyhawk
Eyal LeviUnstoppable Killing Machine, Dååth
Jason Lekberg – IKILLYA
Adam Lindmark – Morbus Chron
Ryan Lipynsky – Serpentine Path, Unearthly Trance, The Howling Wind
Jonah Livingston – Ramming Speed
Bob Lugowe – Director of Promotions/Marketing, Relapse Records, Brutal Panda Records
James Malone – Arsis, Necromancing the Stone
Jose Mangin – Director of Music Programming, Sirius XM Liquid Metal
Bobby Mansfield – 16
Misha Mansoor – Periphery
Morgan McGrath – Live Nation
Mike “Gunface” McKenzie – The Red Chord, Stomach Earth, Nightkin
Vince Neilstein – MetalSucks
Eventansvarig Biostaden Nyköping – Below
Chris Ojeda – Byzantine
Casey Orr – Rigor MortisWarbeast
Rob Pasbani – Metal Injection
Anders Persson – Portrait
Chris Pervelis – Internal Bleeding
Karim Peter – Artist Relations, IndieMerchandising
Raphael Pinsker – Booking Agent, 3Thirteen Entertainment Group
Polar
Markus “Rabapagan” – Metsatöll
Josh Rand – Stone Sour
Emperor Rhombus – MetalSucks
Gus Rios – Gruesome
Tobias Rosén – Noctum
Axl Rosenberg – MetalSucks
Travis Ryan – Cattle Decapitation, Murder Construct, Nader Sadek
Saturn
Marc Schapiro, Branch Marketing Collective
Zach Shaw – The Syndicate
Patrick Sheridan – Fit For An Autopsy
Alex Skolnick – Testament
Brian Slagel – Chairman/CEO, Metal Blade Records
Mark Solotroff – Anatomy of Habit, Bloodlust!, BLOODYMINDED
Steve “Zetro” Souza – Exodus, Hatriot
Kevin Stewart-Panko – Decibel, MetalSucks
Black String – Vampire
Jason Suecof – Audiohammer Studios
Bram Teitelman – Metal Insider
Nick Tieder – No Jacket Required Marketing, Indegoot
Tone Deaf Touring
Aaron Turner – Old Man Gloom, ex-ISIS, Hydra Head Records
Brody Uttley – Rivers of Nihil
George Vallee – Head of Publicity, Street Smart Marketing
Dirk Verbeuren – Soilwork, Bent Sea, Scarve
Jens Vestergren – Below
Jake Wade – Columns
Kelly Walsh – Publicist, Prosthetic Records
Mike Wohlberg – The Fat Kid Illustration
Wookubus – The PRP
Zodiac

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