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How Does Megadeth Rank in the History of Heavy Metal Bands?

Ara is a Journalism graduate from California State University Northridge who is always looking to explore his writing opportunities.

Megadeth Band Logo


Megadeth Should Be Considered Among the Top 20 Most Solid Heavy Metal Bands

How does American heavy metal band Megadeth rank in the history of heavy metal? Right in the beginning of this article, let’s say that their peak period as a band was from 1986 through 1992 even though their weakest studio album of the 1980’s was either their debut with a long title or So Far, So Good, So What! By 2016, it is clear that the band has totally redeemed themselves and even though I have not heard every single one of Megadeth’s albums, I have heard enough of them to offer an analysis of how this band ranks in the history of heavy metal. Megadeth does not go on my top ten list of the greatest heavy metal bands ever but they might be among the Top 20 most solid ones. We shall see after an analysis of their 2016 album called Dystopia.


A Brief Review of the Album Dystopia Their Best Album Since 2007

However, the song called Bullet to the Brain shows something different about this band musically. The beginning of the song is more progressive in nature, sounding like something like Swedish progressive death metal band Opeth has used for most of their career. The solo sounds like something German thrash metal band Kreator would use. Has Dave Mustaine become more creative in his 50’s? That’s the guess that I would have. It is as if his creative mental faculties woke up and he knew he had to improve musically after the band’s period of decline starting in 1994. The song called Post American World is a song that foretells the decline of the United States and in fact, the US has declined in its standing internationally as allies are looking at her in disbelief. What will the world look like in the post American world? America will still exist as a nation but her role and power will be declined and reduced. The instrumental song called Conquer or Die has a Spanish flamenco guitar influence in it along with Fates Warning era No Exit guitar sound mixed in. The song called Lying in State is a song about the coming decline of Western Civilization. Dystopia is easily a better album than several of the band’s prior releases including 2007’s United Abominations. Death From Within has some impressive melodies to go along with the harmony vocals. Songs such as “The Threat Is Real” and the title track Dystopia set a pretty good tone for the album. It is unrealistic to expect Megadeth to be able to top releases such as Rust in Peace or Countdown to Extinction but Dystopia is a good modern metal releases. There’s no doubt that Megadeth has the capability to diversify their efforts when it comes to music as is the case in the song Conquer or Die. This is a good way to mix things up after what is on this album.

Cryptic Writings, Risk, and the Effect on American Heavy Metal

Those two albums reduced the band’s musical peak significantly. Dave’s vocals earlier in his career were strained and this is another factor. Even so, with Dystopia, Megadeth showed that they can still compose decent songs and Dave’s creativity is still there. Even though I still have that sort of feeling that American heavy metal has declined as other nations have gotten stronger, bands such as Metallica, Megadeth, and Testament are still there to provide fans with good entertainment. There is still heavy metal in the United States though what will happen after these bands retire form the music business is anyone’s guess.

My List of the Top 21 Heavy Metal Bands of All Time

AnnihilatorDark MoorTankard


Flowing Tears







Enemy of the Sun

Holy Moses

Lacuna Coil


Dark Tranquillity





In Flames



Alice Cooper






Sacred Reich

The Hidden Treasures Mini Album Was the One Strong Musical Point for Megadeth During Their Brief Decline

In the middle of their decline, Megadeth released a mini album called Hidden Treasures in 1995 which has the very good song Angry Again along with an excellent cover version of Black Sabbath’s song Paranoid. The band puts a modern musical touch to this 1970’s classic and this version is much better than the original one! Ozzy Osbourne’s vocals are too slow and uninspiring. Dave Mustaine is great for this song because of his improved modern heavy metal style voice. He has not been considered an elite vocalist by many heavy metal fans but for this song he is really good! This is not to say that Dave Mustaine is a terrible vocalist. He is decent but he does not have a piercing high falsetto style voice. He is mostly a low to mid-range type of vocalist and he does not try to go past that and sing in a style that he cannot do. He accepts his range and sings based on that range.

"Angry Again" Extended Version

"Paranoid" Cover of the Black Sabbath Song

Megadeth Gets a Grammy Award for Their Album Dystopia

For all of their hard work, the band was finally awarded with a Grammy. They received the award at the 59th Grammy Awards at the Staples Center in February 2017. The band finally got the award after being nominated the first nine times and not getting it. They got the award for Best Metal Performance for Dystopia.

Final Thoughts About How Megadeth Ranks Compared to Other Heavy Metal Bands in the History of the Genre

After analyzing Dystopia, I would put Megadeth probably at #20 on a list of the 20 best heavy metal bands of all time. The have come a long way since their first studio album and if Mustaine were not fired from Metallica, there may not have even been Megadeth. Everything always works out for the better especially in this situation. Megadeth will always be seen as one of the pioneers of thrash metal. Even though they are a strong American metal band overall, they do not compare to metal bands from Germany and even Japan. This last statement comes from experience of listening to bands from many different countries, really analyzing and interpreting their albums to come to this realization. For instance, bands such as Shadow, Kreator, Holy Moses, and Tankard do not really have any sub-par albums but Megadeth does. That’s just how it happened to this band but they were resilient enough to make a comeback. Megadeth is a respectable heavy metal band and they will always have their greatest moment which was in 1986 with the help of Chris Poland even though Dave’s vocals were rough and muffled at that time.

So the question may be if we had a list of Top 20 heavy metal bands, where would Megadeth rank in this list? My pick would be that they would be ranked at #19 or #20. If you look at the table above, Megadeth is now ranked at #19 as of July 2018.

If Dystopia is going to be the last album that we will ever hear from Megadeth, it will be a solid end to a career that has been controversial. But my best educated guess is going to be that Dave Mustaine will play professionally until he is no longer physically able to.

"Dystopia" Song Only

How Will American Metal Be Like In the Future?

Upon further analysis of this statement, American metal will be redefined and it will be different after Metallica, Megadeth, and Testament retire from playing and performing. It will not be bad for American metal but that American metal will be different.

© 2017 Ara Vahanian

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