10 Most Underrated Megadeth Songs
How gifted a songwriter is Dave Mustaine? Well, the heavy metal mastermind has written so many great songs that some of them haven’t even made it onto regular Megadeth albums. Like his former Metallica bandmates during their peak years (’86-’92), Mustaine has given record collectors a lot to be happy about, dropping stellar non-album Megadeth tracks on everything from soundtrack compilations to single B-sides.
Overlooked? Yes, definitely. But there’s also a host of studio album cuts that have also been largely overlooked by the more mainstream leaning school of metal fans. That needs to change and Noisecreep is doing its part to rectify the issue by putting together a list of the 10 Most Underrated Megadeth Songs. While Megadeth songs like ‘Symphony of Destruction’ and ‘Wake Up Dead’ have justly gained classic status, the tracks we’ve included below also deserve their time in the spotlight.
‘Dance in the Rain’
Coming in at the No. 10 spot on our Most Underrated Megadeth Songs list is ‘Dance in the Rain,’ which also happens to be the newest track featured here. The song is Mustaine’s take on the hell that is the current American economic crisis and the whole “Big Brother” concept. “Enslave and impoverish the middle class / Make them dependent then strip it all away” goes one section which guest vocalist David Draiman (Disturbed) spits out with venomous contempt.
’99 Ways to Die’
The verse sections don’t do much to set ’99 Ways to Die’ apart from the rest of the thrash metal heap of its day, but the track’s pre-chorus is another beast altogether. Just before the song’s chorus kicks in, we’re hit with a dizzying blend of Spanish-flavored acoustic guitars and electric guitars that seem to come out of nowhere. The strength of that dynamic shift alone left us no choice but to include the song on our list.
‘Kick the Chair’
A straight-ahead thrasher, the star of ‘Kick the Chair’ is the propulsive main guitar riff that appears throughout the song. Session drummer Vincent Colaiuta (Sting, Frank Zappa) graces the track with machine gun-like double bass work, shadowing the aforementioned guitar riff’s stuttering patterns. When all is said and done, ‘Kick the Chair’ won’t be remembered as one of Megadeth’s most beloved songs, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t deserve your attention.
‘Crown of Worms’
If ‘Train of Consequences’ B-side ‘Crown of Worms’ reminds you of Diamond Head, that’s no accident. Mustaine co-wrote the song with Sean Harris, the vocalist of the influential New Wave of British Heavy Metal act. The song’s opening guitar riff wouldn’t have sounded out of place on Diamond Head’s 1980 seminal ‘Lightning to the Nations’ album, making ‘Crown of Worms’ come off like a loving (and kickass) tribute to the British greats.
‘Take No Prisoners’
Taking John F. Kennedy’s famous “ask not what your country can do for you — ask what you can do for your country” speech and twisting it into “Don’t ask what you can do for your country / Ask what your country can do for you,” ‘Take No Prisoners’ is Mustaine at his lyrical best. On the musical side, the song is a barnburner with impressive footwork from former drummer Nick Menza.
‘A Secret Place’
Coming off Megadeth’s last platinum-selling album to date — 1997’s ‘Cryptic Writings’ — ‘A Secret Place’ is a brooding, mid-paced number featuring a particularly sinister vocal from Mr. Mustaine, especially during the song’s verse sections. The track’s melodic hard rock-flavored chorus instantly hooks its teeth into you, but it never comes off like a play at commercial radio like much of the material on the band’s next album, 1999’s Megadeth fan hated ‘Risk.’
Although it was nominated for Best Metal Performance at the 1993 Grammy Awards, ‘Angry Again’ seems to have been forgotten by everyone but the most hardcore Megadeth fan. Featured on the soundtrack to ‘Last Action Hero,’ the hugely forgettable 1993 Arnold Schwarzenegger flick, ‘Angry Again’ was originally recording during the sessions for the ‘Countdown to Extinction’ album. The double-tracked vocal during the chorus is irresistible, reminding us that Mustaine has always known his way around a meaty melodic hook.
‘Go to Hell’
If the ominous bass line that opens ‘Go to Hell’ doesn’t scream “heavy metal,” then we’re not sure what does. Actually, all of ‘Angry Again’ is pure, unadulterated metal. From the creepy prayer towards the beginning of the track to Mustaine’s snotty vocal delivery to the dueling guitar leads (also courtesy of Marty Friedman), the song should have found its way onto a proper Megadeth studio album and not this ‘Bill & Ted’ soundtrack.
Outside of ‘In My Darkest Hour,’ ‘Mary Jane’ is Megadeth’s most haunting track, with descending guitar lines and Mustaine desperately calling out to the title character during the intro, setting the mood. The song also includes a collection of “I wish I wrote that!” types of riffs, especially at the 2:55 mark. ‘Mary Jane’ was co-written by bassist David Ellefson, and helps prove why he’s been Mustaine’s most important collaborator.
‘My Last Words’
Excluding the neo-classical beginning section of the song, ‘My Last Words’ has the kind of Motorhead meets Angel Witch vibe that Mustaine first mined from during his tenure in Metallica. Written in the first-person, the lyrics deal with a desperate man’s thoughts as he plays a game of Russian roulette. It’s perhaps the most straight-forward pick on our list, but any piece called “10 Most Underrated Megadeth Songs” would be a sham without ‘My Last Words’ on it.