Megadeth - Youthanasia Review
by Matt Hensch
If there was a time period in Megadeth's history that totally redefined the band, it was the 1990's. During the 1990's, Megadeth released a collection of ground breaking albums, changed their sound, and had a consistent lineup; Megadeth also received some mainstream success when their 1992 record "Countdown To Extinction" reached the number two slot on the Billboard Charts! Before Megadeth began slipping with "Risk," Dave Mustaine and crew recorded an album that launched a turning point in the band's career; that album was "Youthanasia."
The main focus on "Countdown To Extinction" was the easier song structure, the lesser emphasis on riffing, and the overall chorus catchiness. To sum it up, a majority of Megadeth's thrash influence was gone and the band was now playing a vintage heavy metal style, and that's where "Youthanasia" comes in. "Countdown To Extinction" was the first record of this new sound, but "Youthanasia" is where they perfected it.
Instead of the somewhat sloppy guitar playing and drumming on "Countdown To Extinction," "Youthanasia" has musical work that flows like a stream. The riffing and the drumming have both slowed down a bit, but they compliment each other perfectly. "Reckoning Day" is the most suitable example of this because of the strong rhythm section. Mustaine and guitarist Marty Friedman play a smooth mid-paced riff while bassist David Ellefson matches Nick Menza's simple, yet steady drum patterns. The solos here aren't as crazy and fast as previous Megadeth efforts, but they do fit well and match the tone of the music. When a song sounds slow or depressing, like "A Tout Le Monde," the leads are simpler and epic, but when a track is heavier and has faster riffing, like "Train Of Consequences," the solos are technical and swift. The riffs are common to "Countdown To Extinction" in the sense that they sound more traditional than thrash. The riff on the title track sounds almost identical to something stripped out of a Black Sabbath album. "The Killing Road" is probably the only track that could be considered somewhat thrash because of the steady riff, but don't expect anything similar to "Rust In Peace!"
"The Killing Road," "Elysian Fields," and "Reckoning Day" are defiantly the prime cuts from this album. As previously stated, "Reckoning Day" has a fantastic rhythm field along with some great vocals. "The Killing Road" is my personal favorite song from this album because it has this thrashy riff that makes it sound unique from the pack of traditional metal songs and Mustaine has some really great vocals too. "Elysian Fields" has a delightfully memorable chorus, good riffing, and it even has a freakin harmonica solo! I find every song on "Youthanasia" to be fantastic, but these three stand out to me the most.
Instead of lyrics about occultism and dark imagery, the lyrics on "Youthanasia" are focused around different subjects. There are a ton of lyrical topics here; everything from depression, to incest, to nuclear war, and even gambling. "A Tout Le Monde" is probably the most well known song from this album because of its suicidal lyrics. The title track is an interesting tidbit about the problems youths face, such as drugs and violence. The famous "We've been hung out to dry " line inspired the controversial artwork and it basically sums up the song's content.
If you do plan to buy a copy of "Youthanasia," try to seek out the 2004 reissue. Not only is this version of the album completely remastered, it contains a series of amazing bonus tracks. The two demo tracks of "A Tout Le Monde" and "New World Order" sound great. The demo of "A Tout Le Monde" is extended in time length, has a different chorus and added backing vocals. The demo of "New World Order" sounds quite similar to the original version, but it does have some minor changes not in the actual track. The instrumental "Absolution" is a nice soft rocker with an interlude that hardcore Megadeth fans will recognize immediately. These bonus tracks are great and I highly suggest you buy the reissue to get them.
I've listened to the entire Megadeth catalog countless times, and "Youthanasia" is my favorite by far. This record rules in every possible way. "Youthanasia" might not be as influential as "Peace Sells...But Whose Buying" or "Rust In Peace," but it does rank among one of the best releases of this timeless band.
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