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Megadeth is an American thrash metal band led by founder, front man, guitarist, and songwriter Dave Mustaine. Formed in 1983 Los Angeles, California with bass player David Ellefson following Mustaine's departure from Metallica, the band has since released eleven studio albums, six live albums, two EPs, thirty singles, thirty-two music videos, and three compilations.
As a pioneer of the American thrash metal movement, Megadeth rose to international fame in the 1980s, but experienced numerous line-up changes, due partly to the band's notorious substance abuse problems. After finding sobriety and securing a stable line-up, Megadeth went on to release a string of platinum and gold albums, including the platinum-selling landmark Rust in Peace in 1990 and the Grammy nominated, multi-platinum Countdown to Extinction in 1992. Megadeth disbanded in 2002 after Mustaine suffered a severe nerve injury to his left arm, but following extensive physical therapy, Mustaine reformed the band in 2004 and released The System Has Failed, followed by United Abominations in 2007; the albums deputed on the Billboard Top 200 chart at #18 and #8, respectively.
Megadeth is known for a distinctive guitar style, often involving complex, intricate musical passages, and trade off guitar solos. Mustaine is also known for his original "snarling" vocal style, as well as his recurring lyrical themes, often involving politics, war, addiction, and personal relationships.
As one of the most commercially successful heavy metal bands of all time, Megadeth has sold more than 20 million albums worldwide, including six consecutive platinum albums, with seven consecutive Grammy nominations for Best Metal Performance. In the band's 23 active years, Megadeth has had 20 official members, with Dave Mustaine remaining as the driving force, main songwriter, and sole original member following the end his musical partnership with David Ellefson in 2002. Megadeth is hailed as one of the bands among the "Big Four of Thrash," along with Metallica, Slayer, and Anthrax, who were responsible for creating and popularizing the genre in the 1980s.
Just two months after Dave Mustaine was fired from Metallica in 1983, guitarist/vocalist Dave Mustaine formed the thrash metal quartet Megadeth. Though Megadeth followed the basic blueprint of Metallica's relentless attack, Mustaine's group distinguished themselves from his earlier band by adding an emphasis on instrumental skills, speeding the tempo up slightly, and making the instrumental attack harsher. By streamlining the classic thrash metal approach and making the music more threatening, as well as making the lyrics more nihilistic, Megadeth became one of the leading bands of the genre during the mid-'80s and late '80s. Each album they released went at least gold, and they continually sold out arenas across America, in addition to developing a strong following overseas. By the early '90s, they had toned their music down slightly, yet that simply increased their following; all of their proper '90s albums debuted in the Top Ten.
Throughout Megadeth's many lineup changes, the two core members were bassist Dave Ellefson and guitarist/vocalist Dave Mustaine (born September 13, 1961), who was the band's official leader. Mustaine grew up in the suburbs of Southern California, where he was raised by his mother in a broken home; frequently, his mother left him to be raised by aunts and uncles, who never encouraged his musical inclinations and often belittled him for his fondness for heavy metal. In 1981, he formed Metallica with James Hetfield and Lars Ulrich. Mustaine spent two years with Metallica, developing a strong cult following in California's underground metal scene, before he was kicked out of the group in 1983, allegedly over his substance abuse.
For the next few years, Megadeth toured and gained a following, signing with the independent label Combat in late 1984. The following year, the group released their debut, Killing Is My Business…And Business Is Good!, which received strong reviews, not only in metal-oriented publications, but also in mainstream music magazines. The album sold very well for an independent release, which attracted the attention of major record labels. By the end of the year, the group had signed with Capitol. Megadeth's first major-label album, Peace Sells…But Who's Buying?, was released in the fall of 1986. Like its predecessor, Peace Sells was greeted by strong reviews and sales; it eventually went platinum.
In January 1988 Megadeth released So Far, So Good… So What!, and while the album was eventually certified platinum in the United States, it was initially panned by critics, with Allmusic complaining that the album "lacked conceptual unity and musical bite", and that it "wants to sound threatening but mostly comes off as forced and somewhat juvenile". So Far, So Good… featured the single "In My Darkest Hour", with music written by Mustaine as a tribute to fallen Metallica bassist Cliff Burton. The song remains a fan favorite, and has been performed at nearly every Megadeth show since. So Far, So Good… also featured a cover version of the Sex Pistols' "Anarchy in the UK", with lyrics altered by Mustaine (who later admitted to hearing them wrong).
In the years immediately following the release of So Far, So Good…So What!, Mustaine fired Jeff Young and Chuck Behler replacing them with guitarist Marty Friedman and drummer Nick Menza. This lineup recorded Megadeth's fourth and most progressive album, Rust in Peace. The record peaked at number 23 on the American charts and went platinum. 1991 saw Metallica break through to the mainstream, and sensing the possibility for similar success, Mustaine followed suit in stripping down the band's sound, though it remained as technically perfectionistic as Rust in Peace. The result, Countdown to Extinction, was released in 1992, entering the charts at number two; the record went double platinum and became the band's biggest hit, confirming that they had retained their audience in the wake of grunge.
Now one of the most popular metal bands in the world, Megadeth moved further toward the mainstream with Youthanasia in 1994, which entered the charts at number four and, like its predecessor, went platinum. The following year, the group released Hidden Treasures, a rarities collection that featured some of the soundtrack tunes that had helped expand the group's MTV audience in the early '90s. 1997's Cryptic Writings found Megadeth fully embraced by album rock radio, which formerly would never have touched the band. Ex-Suicidal Tendencies drummer Jimmy DeGrasso signed on in 1998, in time for the following year's Risk. In 2000, following the release of the best-of Capitol Punishment, Marty Friedman followed Nick Menza out the door; he was replaced by former Savatage and Alice Cooper guitarist Al Pitrelli. After signing with the BMG subsidiary Sanctuary, Megadeth debuted its new lineup on 2001's The World Needs a Hero.
While on break from touring, Mustaine suffered a serious injury in January 2002 while staying in Texas. He was diagnosed with having radial neuropathy shortly thereafter, a condition that prevented him from playing guitar. The compressed radial nerves in his left arm and hand were strained, leaving Megadeth little recourse but to disband in April 2002, after almost 20 years in the music industry. During his time off, Mustaine prepared an elaborate reissue campaign, remastering each album and reissuing them all with bonus material. This campaign set the stage for a Megadeth revival, which came in 2004-2005 with a surprising comeback album, The System Has Failed, and some heavy touring. Capitol released a new best-of, simply titled Greatest Hits, just as Megadeth hit the summer concert circuit, headlining Mustaine's own Gigantour festival. In 2007 Megadeth released the politically charged United Abominations.
At the moment Megadeth is working on their new album at "Vic's Garage", and is scheduled to tour with Judas Priest and Testament at Priest Feast 2009.
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