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Looking Back at Megadeth’s Debut Album "Killing My Business… and Business Is Good!"

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

The Larger Context Behind Megadeth's Debut Album Part 1

Killing My Business… and Business Is Good! is more than just the 1985 debut of the band Megadeth, formed by Dave Mustaine when he was fired by Metallica in 1983 but of course, this debut would come out two years later in 1985 and it is the band’s most raw and darkest release of all the ones that they have made since. With an album that has such a long title, some listeners may lose interest in this album because they might figure that the album just goes on and on with the music but it is an album that is only 31 minutes long so it is over pretty fast. It is not something like St. Anger but given the time period that the album came out, it still has that raw, aggressive edge that defined many albums of the period. We will not however discuss the controversial cover of the Nancy Sinatra song These Boots Are Made for Walkin’. This debut album is one of those Megadeth releases that I found really hard to come back to after years of not really listening to it as it is a sort of sorrowful, dark release.

The Larger Context Behind Megadeth's Debut Album Part 2

This debut was released because of the firing of Dave Mustaine from Metallica at the time and he had expressed a desire to write music that was heavier and faster than his former band mates. Although it cannot be said with 100% certainty, there is good reason to assume that this debut is one of the Megadeth albums that would likely not have been released had Dave Mustaine not been fired by Metallica in 1983. You can even call this debut album by Megadeth as a sort of accidental album while not being so accidental given what Dave Mustaine was going to do musically. It is a sort of a coincidence that Metallica’s debut album Kill ‘Em All and this debut by Megadeth have a similar sort of title. While Metallica’s debut was a complex raw, heavy, fast in your face kind of thrash metal album, this debut

Extended Analysis of the Songs

There are songs such as the really fast “Mechanix” which Metallica had slowed down just a bit and written “The Four Horsemen.” It is a matter of personal preference, but I prefer The Four Horsemen as a song compared to Mechanix. Mechanix still has that exciting riff part that Metallica’s song has and the solo at the end is still present in this song as well. Following the solo is a yell from Dave Mustaine and that’s how this short debut from Megadeth ends. In the perspective of this writer, this debut from Megadeth might as well be best known for the two part first song “Last Rites / Loved to Death.” The first part is a really dark and piano influenced classical part and the second part builds into a song that is lyrically about a relationship that ended badly. He would be glad to take her back if she wasn’t such a mess. The guitar sound, tone, and atmosphere show that this Megadeth debut album with a long title is their darkest release yet. This debut along with Peace Sells But Who’s Buying? are the only two studio albums with anything resembling the original classic Megadeth lineup because Chris Poland and Gar Samuelson contribute. The title track is lyrically about a paid assassin that is willing to do his job whatever the cost. “Rattlehead” is a song that lyrically is pretty much about thrash metal and head banging to the music of Megadeth. The song is fast, just like Dave Mustaine intended pretty much the entire album to be. “Chosen Ones” is a song that sort of has a blues metal kind of feel to it as the song is about being brave enough to challenge a beast that is ready to attack its prey. The song also has a progressive kind of feel to it along with the fast soloing. “Looking Down the Cross” has the same vocal feel and style by Dave Mustaine that we would hear in the next album Peace Sells. I put the words “Peace Sells” to point out that we are referring to the album title, the one that would come out directly after this one did. This Megadeth debut album is a good try by Dave Mustaine and the other band members to be heavier than Metallica. They were certainly more “evil” sounding and dark compared to Mustaine’s former band but did not match the superiority of Metallica. Without the cover performance of that Nancy Sinatra song, this album is better but it is not a better album than Peace Sells But Who’s Buying? “Mechanix” in terms of the riffing is like The Four Horsemen but the lyrics are completely different though. This is a good start by Dave Mustaine following his much publicized firing from Metallica and may as well have been an album that matched the style and feel of the times.


Final Thoughts About Megadeth's Debut Album

This debut album by Megadeth is not an all-time thrash metal classic but it is good enough. There are attributes that Megadeth would work on and improve upon and even Dave himself says in the title track “you’d better believe it!” “The Skull Beneath the Skin” starts off dark and slow, similar to but not the same as the song “Whiplash.” You can still hear traces of how Dave Mustaine would sound as a vocalist in 1990 and later in this song. Then there is also the blues style metal song “Chosen Ones” which is lyrically about the people that have been chosen to do battle with a wild beast. If they happen to be victorious they will be considered the real chosen ones. The drumming near the end by the late Gar Samuelson is well done.

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This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.

© 2022 Ara Vahanian

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