The applause, the firm and frightening salutation from frontman Dave Mustaine, and the return of a fully-fleshed Megadeth strikes upon the opening of “Holy Wars…The Punishment Due” from metal classic Rust In Peace. This year marks many significant moments for the band that has played second fiddle to Metallica for decades: the 20th anniversary of Rust In Peace, a profoundly deep and pure metal record that defines the very essence of Megadeth; the return of bassist Dave Ellefson, who left the band in 2002; the promotion of last year’s bloody thrash throwback Endgame; a performance as part of the Big Four at Sonisphere in Bulgaria, and so forth.
What we get on Rust In Peace: Live is no laughing matter, nor is it mere runoff from the success of Megadeth’s recent return to the mainstream eye. This is unadulterated awesomeness, some of which has never ever been played live until now (“Five Magics”, “Poison Was The Cure”, and “Rust In Peace…Polaris”), plus finishing festivities off with choice cuts from other records to round everything out (“Symphony Of Destruction”, “Skin O’ My Teeth”, “Peace Sells”).
As with the studio version, my favorite tracks such as “Poison Was The Cure”, “Take No Prisoners”, and “Holy Wars” shine with the utmost potency. My only regret is not having been there during the performance itself, because if there is one thing any concert goer cam attest to, it is this: how many times have you gone to a rock show and said, “I wish they’d play [insert ‘deep cut’ title here] instead of all their singles”? That is the good news about tribute anniversary projects like this – when they are legitimately sincere whilst playing of a recent resurgence in popularity, catching a tour of such caliber and seeing never-before-performed live material is like a bated breath finally being released, such as when I caught Slipknot for the second time and received longtime favorite “Eyeless”, watching the masses fully succumb alongside myself.
Rust In Peace: Live does not disappoint in any capacity; every track from its namesake release gets due diligence and enormous fanfare, every musician does their duty to a “T”. Under normal circumstances, I could bitch about the convenience of putting out this kind of live album so soon after the previously stated Sonisphere appearance and Endgame promotion, but that is the point. Upon hearing Rust In Peace: Live, everything goes out the window in favor of sinking into the unheard of live tracks, the increased level of audience reception on more familiar fare (“Tornado Of Souls” being a primary example), the entirety feels thought out and preserved like a piece of history in the making.
By the time you get past the signature “Hangar 18” or the haunting bass chugger “Dawn Patrol” and on into the less-genius-more-rock conclusions of “Rust In Peace…Polaris” and “Holy Wars (Reprise)”, the latter of which is a non-album track and is absolutely a must-hear, you feel like a kid whose precious djiin has given the breath of life to a paper crane you spent years trying to perfect (complete with evil cackling vocals). Typically, it takes a lot to get me involved on a live recording; perhaps some jamming improv gets thrown in, maybe some fresh banter betwixt band and audience gets snagged on tape, something unique to the concert itself (think Allman Brothers’ At Fillmore East). Rust In Peace has its mark here, the undeniable fact that this is a landmark record given the true epic treatment.
To touch on the non-album closing scenes, we refer you to one simple truth: What the hell would a Megadeth show be without fucking “Symphony Of Destruction”? The very song that beckoned me to the fold to begin with? Enough said about that.
If you are one of those who have never fully engulfed themselves in the sci-fi conspiracy theorist and nuke paranoia majesty that is Rust In Peace, then I highly suggest that you do so before picking this up. The full-on live rendition from beginning to end does said album justice, but to catch the subtle nuances and to appreciate the intensity, one must go back to move forward. On that note, you need not be a raging fanboy to see why this record is such a staple amongst the metal canon; every riff is superbly crafted, every drum rhythm a stream-of-consciousness ground pound into the soul. There is a reason that Mustaine props his work up egotistically on Rust In Peace — he damn well earned the right.
Rust In Peace: Live respects the fans, pays tribute to a great album, and in the course of things, manages to prove why Megadeth should never be considered second rate. God forbid a mainstream metal act not continuously cater to terrestrial radio.
In closing…”that was Rust In Peace.”