Megadeth

Greatest Hits: Back to the Start

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Dave Mustaine revived Megadeth in the mid-2000s, remastering and reissuing his band's entire Capitol catalog and hitting the concert circuit in earnest. Greatest Hits is part of that revival. It's the second Megadeth best-of, replacing the one from five years prior, Capitol Punishment. Greatest Hits is an improvement, loaded with 17 selections, three more than its predecessor. There's also some fancy packaging and a hyperbolic "Love Live Megadeth" tribute written by Penelope Spheeris, the colorful director of The Decline of Western Civilization, Pt. 2: The Metal Years. It all adds up to a nice package, or more precisely, a sampler of Megadeth, from the band's pioneering thrash metal years to its later growing pains, with an unfortunate de-emphasis on the band's beginnings. Like the previous best-of released by Capitol, Greatest Hits overlooks much of Megadeth's prime years in favor of a balanced sample of selections from every album released by the label. There's going to be a large chunk of the market that is going to groan about this approach, since the early thrash years are the reason most Megadeth fans are fans in the first place, and also the reason why the band has been able to ramble on all these years despite some mostly dull new music. Since Megadeth released so many albums for Capitol, there's never room here for more than two tracks per album: Peace Sells, Rust in Peace, Countdown to Extinction, and Youthanasia get two representations, the rest get only one. Such breadth doesn't make for the best listening experience, especially because the disc hopscotches through time. That quibble aside, Greatest Hits does give you a sample of every Megadeth album, even duds like Risk. If you're serious about getting into this band, however, you're best off going through the albums one by one. The good ones are good all the way through; if you like "Peace Sells," you're going to like Peace Sells. But if you're just curious and would like a broad one-disc sampler, Greatest Hits is your ticket. You'll end up with a good understanding of Megadeth -- old and not as old, good and not as good -- and what to expect from each album, of which there are a couple stone-cold classics.

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