The remixed and remastered Megadeth albums released in 2004 aren't your typical cash-ins. They're stark improvements over the originals: group leader Dave Mustaine did the remixing and remastering himself, making especially significant revisions to the earlier albums, and he includes insightful liner notes for each reissue, including track-by-track commentary for the bonus tracks, as well as lyrics and period photos. The reissue of Rust in Peace improves upon the already impressive original mainly in terms of sound quality. The remixed and remastered production sounds more dynamic and forceful -- important attributes when it comes to thrash metal like this. As far as the album itself goes, there's not much to improve upon. Rust in Peace was great to begin with and was a huge step forward for Megadeth. The album's predecessor, So Far, So Good...So What!, had been a success, both commercially as well as among the band's then-growing fan base, yet it had its flaws, chiefly in terms of songwriting -- some great songs, some not-so-great songs, an overall sense of inconsistency. Contrarily, Rust in Peace is anything but inconsistent; in fact, if the album has one fault, it's that it's too consistent, with many songs sounding overly similar to one another. Most notably, Rust in Peace opens with the back-to-back "Holy Wars...The Punishment Due" and "Hangar 18," beyond doubt the most accomplished songs yet recorded by Megadeth. And wow, these songs sound better than ever here on the reissue! The successive ones aren't big departures from what Mustaine and company (featuring two new members: guitarist Marty Friedman and drummer Nick Menza) accomplish with the album-opening high points, following that trajectory and refusing to relent. As far as reissue goodies go, Mustaine's liner notes focus on how much he struggled to find a replacement for the "long gone" Jeff Young (the guitarist Mustaine had hired for SFSGSW and the subsequent tour), and how skeptical he was of Friedman initially (the guitarist had sported a half-orange/half-black hairstyle). He also writes of where he came up with the idea for the album title (a bumper sticker) and reflects on Megadeth's across-the-board success at the time (embarking on the Clash of the Titans tour with Slayer and Anthrax; becoming "one of MTV's darlings"; and enjoying a life of "long hair, tight jeans, tons of chicks and speed metal at its finest"). Bonus tracks include the previously unreleased "My Creation" and pre-Friedman demos of a few songs, all of which feature the ax slinging of Peace Sells-era guitarist Chris Poland. Less than an essential purchase, even for diehards, this reissue of Rust in Peace is nonetheless warranted because of its improved sound quality.
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Review by Jason Birchmeier