Sound — 9
Just about a year ago Megadeth released the broad-spectrum box set Warchest, which might have been a bit pricey for some fans' wallets. Granted, it was the most in-depth look at the band's career thus far, and it might have just covered a little too much ground. Fast forward to 2008, which marks the release of a cheaper, more succinct alternative: Anthology: Set the World Afire. The 2-disk CD package meets a nice middle ground between the band's previous greatest-hits packages and the massive box set. It's true that a few of the less commercially successful albums aren't really represented (there are no tracks from The System Has Failed and only one from The World Needs A Hero) and don't expect to see anything from the latest release United Abominations, but luckily there's still plenty in the arsenal - about 2 hours worth. The tracks featured on Warchest were apparently hand-selected by Dave Mustaine himself, so there was definitely a mix of the familiar and obscure. Anthology: Set The World Afire, on the other hand, is dedicated to delivering the hits first and foremost, with Megadeth's early years getting a decent chunk of the first CD. Mechanix and Rattlehead are taken from Killing Is My Businessand Business Is Good, probably the rawest out of all the studio recordings. It's fantastic they did decide to include Rattlehead because that is the one track that feels closest to Mustaine's Metallica years. Things move quickly onto the years in which Megadeth began to have a heavy presence on Headbanger's Ball, and classics like Peace Sells, Holy WarsThe Punishment Due, Hangar 18, and Sweating Bullets are, as always, highlights. The 2nd disk deals primarily with Megadeth's material from Countdown To Extinction onward, which is still a pretty big bulk of time considering that covers everything since 1993. Skin O' My Teeth, Train of Consequences, A Tout Le Monde, and Kill The King are among the titles on the 2nd disk's 18 tracks. It should also be mentioned that there are quite a few tracks taken from 1995's Hidden Treasures CD, which featured rarities and soundtrack singles. Surprisingly the MTV hit No More Mr. Nice Guy did not make the Set the World Afire's list, but you do get Breakpoint (taken from Super Mario Bros.), Angry Again (Last Action Hero), and Go To Hell (Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey). Set The World Afire is not putting it's focus on much that is new, but this is a case where it's good to finally just have a solid, well-known Megadeth collection. Warchest featured quite a few rough cuts and live versions, but Anthology sticks with the classic takes for the most part. The few newly released titled include live versions of Symphony of Destruction and Peace Sells, as well as a demo version of High Speed Dirt. In comparison to other bands that include demos on their greatest hits CDs, High Speed Dirt sounds 100 percent solid (check out the perfectly executed bluesy guitar riff toward the end). That track in itself is a testament to the musicianship within Megadeth.
Lyrics — 9
The anthology features tracks that Megadeth's fans will already be familiar with, so the lyrical content shouldn't raise any eyebrows. It is interesting to see how well-crafted the lyrics actually were in the early days, too. Yes, there is a certain maturity to the later songs like A Tout Le Monde, but the 1980's tracks shows great promise in both metaphorical construction (Mechanix) and politically driven content (Peace Sells").
Overall Impression — 9
Megadeth fans should relish in Anthology: Set The World Afire, even with the last few years not completely represented. It's true that Warchest included 5 disks, but a lot of the featured tracks were rarities or demos. Sometimes you just want to hear the classic version of a hit single, and the new release covers all the bases in that area. Obviously they can't include anything from United Abominations yet, so the compilation gets a pass on that one, too. Again, it's impossible to please everyone, but Set The World Afire finally does a quality job of hitting all the high notes in Megadeth's lengthy career.