Sound — 10
First things first, if you don't have this album, get it. Now. This is a rock solid album, start to finish. It doesn't fail to impress. Rust in Peace is the only Deth album I'll say is better, because of aggression only. Songwriting doesn't suffer one time in the entire CD. Dave Mustaine vocals are less aggressive than Rust In Peace, but it fits the toned down sound. He definitely focused on vocals for this album a bit more than he ever did before. Dave Mustaine and Marty Friedman, anyone who knows anything about me knows I'm a huge Marty fan, so naturally, I'm impressed. Regardless, you get nothing short of extraordinary. Dave, as usual, kicks ass on rhythm, while Marty's in-your-face lead work doesn't cease to please. Dave's leads are pretty much just like they always were, but I think the high point for Dave on the album is his "High Speed Dirt" solo. Some songs where Marty really shines are Skin o' My Teeth, Foreclosure of a Dream, Symphony of Destruction, and Captive Honour. Solid rhythms, soaring leads, what more could you ask for? David Ellefson does well to keep up with Dave's thrashing rhythms, and fits in just right between the rhythm and drumline. He usually just follows the guitar, but does have some catchy basslines, like on Symphony Of Destruction or the title track. Nick Menza is definitely one of my favorite drummers. He usually has pretty technical beats and this album is no exception. He provides a perfect backing in most songs. Some of my favorites include Captive Honour, Skin O' My Teeth, and Architecture Of Aggression.
Lyrics — 10
Overall, the lyrics are highly political, as usual. I'll critique it by song: 01. Skin O' My Teeth - a song about people attempting suicide. It's just about a plea for death, and death not answering. It's an upbeat song, and actually made to be humorous. 02. Symphony Of Destruction - about a politician's rise to tyranny. Kind of a thrash ballad feel to it, with an obvious reference to the Pied Piper in the Robert Browning poem, "The Pied Piper Of Hamelin." 03. Architecture Of Aggression - inspired by a book of the same name about Nazi facilities, as well as a bombing in Iraq on January 16, 1991. Pretty aggressive track with a lot of sound samples. 04. Foreclosure Of A Dream - about Ellefson's family farm being put out of business during the Reagan administration. Overall focuses on how the government controls all. I'd say this is tied with Holy Wars and Tornado Of Souls as the best Megadeth song ever. Friedman told a producer to fuck off when they were recording because he interrupted their playing, while they were going for perfection, which they achieved. 05. Sweating Bullets - a very strange song that obviously refers to schizophrenia. One of the heaviest songs on the album. 06. This Was My Life - about the hate Mustaine felt towards a long time girlfriend. A pretty catchy track overall, but not as good as some of the other songs. 07. Countdown To Extinction - probably the best lyrics on the album. Nick had found an article in Time magazine about poaching exotic animals, and the song speaks out strongly against it. Apparently, James Hetfield was involved in this "hunting," which brought Dave an even stronger hate for him. Really catchy, outspoken, powerful song that won them a Genesis award from an animal activist group. 08. High Speed Dirt - about skydiving, particularly about a failed parachute when skydiving. Really up-tempo, fun song. 09. Psychotron - about the comic "Deathlok." Dave got really carried away in an interview with his description of why he wrote this song. It's basically a science fiction song with badass guitar, especially the demo. 10. Captive Honour - about prison and beatings etc. Simple enough. Pretty extreme song. 11. Ashes In Your Mouth - about the world being destined to war, with God being the judge of its fate. Quite an aggressive tune. 12. Crown Of Worms - a song loaded with Biblical references. Its meaning is mysterious, though it could mean the way different people interpret the Bible in many different ways to distort it to fit their beliefs. On a side note, Dave is a devoted Christian, so he's speaking against this misinterpretation. It's a strange track that's sort of upbeat and aggressive at the same time. I'm leaving out the demos since the lyrics aren't really any different. All lyrical info and backstories attained from the official CD booklet and the Realms Of Deth.
Overall Impression — 10
This album mops the floor with most other thrash albums. Rust in Peace is the only Megadeth album, and possibly any album, I've come across that I like more. They're basically my top 2 favorite albums of all time, and if either was stolen or lost I'd buy another in a heartbeat. Every song is great, but Foreclosure of a Dream is probably the best song on the album. I highly encourage anyone to buy this album. The album is from beginning to end a nonstop thrash fest. The guitar is most impressive, Marty is an absolute beast. Also, as an interesting note, this was the first album that Dave was clean from drugs during. So, with a clear head, they made an instant classic and surefire addition to any shred or metal fan.