THIS MONTH IN METAL No. 17: Megadeth’s “Rust in Peace”

The Legacy

Some albums are so colossal that they feel as if they’ve reigned since the beginning of time.  Although we can point to them as turning points of perfecting the genre, the passage of time seems to meld together into one big pot of… alien guts?  Sure.  Celebrating its 30th anniversary this September, let’s take a look back at the classic that perfected thrash and laid the foundation for the 90’s being one of the furthest-reaching decades for metal.  This month’s colossus in question is none other than Megadeth’s Rust In Peace.  Time to crack open the top secret files.

“Rust in Peace” cover by Ed Repka / Photo: Genius

By 1990, thrash had solidified itself as a rock hard monolith of metal.  The “Big Four” carried by Metallica, Anthrax, Slayer and Megadeth had their boots firmly planted and made treads across the globe.  And although thrash had already claimed its territory, the nuclear force of Rust In Peace welded it all together.  Taking the, for lack of a better word, thrashing trademarks of thrash, Megadeth mastermind Dave Mustaine tossed in a signature progressive edge as a preview of what was to come for the next decade of metal.  Both retrospective and innovative, Rust In Peace set an unshakable standard for metalheads everywhere, even being nominated for a well-deserved Grammy.  The album’s themes speak to its breadth as well, being both external and internal while holding consistent imagery straight out of Heavy Metal Magazine.  Government criticism from war protests to alien conspiracy shake an outward fist, while ghost encounters and drug addictions reflect inward.  Rust In Peace functions as a corridor of vignettes that vary not in scale, but in their own respective qualities that still manage to carry an equal weight.

“Rust in Peace” back cover / Photo: Amazon

What isn’t there to say about an album that has everything?  It’s hard to imagine what we would be missing out on without this record, because there are probably too many to name. Unlike the warheads in question, Rust In Peace remains shimmering in the hot sun.  Here’s to 30 years of undisputed firepower.  

The Treaty

30th anniversary tribute artwork

The Treaty
Megadeth – “Rust in Peace” 30th anniversary

OK, this is a bit of a stretch, but there is a connection.  While Rust In Peace only actually has one song slightly about alien contact, it does have several themes of government secrets, misdeeds and nuclear wrath.  I drew a thread between such themes and one of Eisenhower’s alleged treaties, a big one for UFO conspiracy theorists.  The word of the treaty goes that Eisenhower met with the Grey aliens and signed a deal allowing them to experiment on US citizens in exchange for alien technology.  In the form of a handshake between Eisenhower and a Grey,  I represent the joining of two worlds now locked together in a gate of material beyond tangible comprehension.  Advancement at the cost of lives behind the backs one’s people is not something unfamiliar to the great powers of the world.  Whether you believe the Greys exist or not, it’s not out of the question that those in power would strike such a deal.  Herein lies the tie to Megadeth’s snappy cynicism to plots behind closed doors.  As frustrating as the distrust between controller and controlled may be, we can still comment it with accessible forms of creative media.  

See more heavy hitters in the MONTHLY METAL GALLERY

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In the words of some bumper sticker Dave Mustaine read once, “May all your nuclear weapons rust in peace.” 

–NCM