Sound — 9
Megadeth: lead by the charismatic 'Mad Dog' Dave Mustaine, rhythm guitarist/singer extraordinaire. They started out in 1983 when Mustaine was unceremoniously thrown out from Metallica (in the middle of NYC, no less! ) and replaced with Kirk Hammett (who, ironically, is still there today). By 1985, they'd finally put together enough music to produce an album, which they were given only $8000 to do so with. However, half of it went for either booze or drugs, so production quality, even on the remastered version, is poor. First and foremost on the CD you'll recognize that this is not the Megadeth of the Nineties, most of the work here is flat-out speed metal. Two guitarists Dave Mustaine and Chris Poland, along with bassist Dave Ellefson and drummer Gar Samuelson (RIP) shred through this often-underrated album. Poland, especially, solos like a madman in such treats as the demonically fast climax, 'Rattlehead', though Mustaine's rhythm guitar is much like that of a lead player. 'Loved To Deth' is a song with a time signature of what seems like 7/4 (or 4/4, followed by 3/4) and a piano intro that is rarely heard but one I consider a good, fast, shred-fest. 'Looking Down The Cross' is a sad-sounding epic about Jesus looking down from his final position, starting out slow then ending in a cacophony of shreddage. 'Mechanix' is Mustaine's version of 'The Four Horsemen', a song he co-wrote with Metallica before he left. 'These Boots', a cover of 'These Boots Are Made For Walkin'', is actually a good tune (fast! ), unlike Children of Bodom's cover of 'Oops... I Did It Again', unfortunately, it is bleeped out (reasons unknown), which is pretty pointless because it's mostly tame. The only low point here is 'Chosen Ones', a song written about the Killer Rabbit in Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Complaints: Mustaine's whiny vocals, bad production quality, bleeped version of These Boots, Chosen Ones, often indistinguishable Chris Poland solos.
Lyrics — 8
Aside from the rather whiny vocals of Dave Mustaine when he sings (especially when one is used to the growls abundant in Symphony of Destruction and Sweating Bullets), the lyrics of KIMB are rather good, if not as interesting as those from fellow thrashers Slayer. 'Loved To Deth' tells about an angry youth who kills a girl he loved so no one else can have her (hence, the title). The title track talks about an assassin who is employed to kill someone. Then he is hired to kill his previous employer ("Proud to say my next job is you). This is complete with a sing-along chorus in the end much like that in the end of Peace Sells. 'The Skull Beneath The Skin' tells about the sacrifice of a victim for a pagan ritual (obviously, with Dave's recent 'conversion', it's not a stage favorite anymore). Lyrics tell about what Vic Rattlehead will look like ("Metal caps his ears-he'll hear not what we say, a solid steel visor across his eyes"). 'Rattlehead' describes a typical 'Megadethbanger'. 'Chosen Ones' is about the Killer Rabbit from Monty Python and the Holy Grail, and though the song isn't outstanding, the lyrics are humorous. 'Looking Down The Cross', a song full of sadness, describes Jesus's last thoughts while, well, looking down the cross. Finally, 'Mechanix' tells about a mechanic in love with a woman who could "turn screws better than me". The lyrics aren't as good as those in Metallica's 'The Four Horsemen' (which Mustaine also wrote), but the song is sped up and harder-rocking than the Metallica version.
Overall Impression — 8
Scott Ian (of Anthrax) says the KIMB is the best out of the Big Four (of Thrash Metal)'s four debut albums (Metallica's Kill 'Em All in 1983, Slayer's Show No Mercy, same year, and Anthrax's Fistful of Metal, again, in 1983), and I must agree. The gap between it and Kill 'Em All and Show No Mercy is close, and like the others, it's crude, but faster than Kill 'Em All and guitars are more distorted, giving it a harder sound. It also sounds like it's own music, instead of the Iron Maiden/Venom sound of Show No Mercy and the sped-up Judas Priest sound of Fistful. Overall, it's a hard-rocking CD which introduced Megadeth into the thrash arena and most of the songs on it are good ones. It's not a perfect ten, nor nine, (if 'These Boots' was unbleeped, maybe), but it's a solid thrasher, perhaps almost as good as the band's release Rust In Peace. "Don't wear no leather to fit in, don't wear no spikes to be cool, don't want no woman beside him, just make it fast, loud, and rude" (Rattlehead). It is a fitting description of the unpolished yet amazing early Megadeth sound.