Top 10 Nick Menza Megadeth Songs
Nick Menza had largely fallen out of the spotlight in the years leading up to his sad passing on May 22, 2016. But for nearly a decade, Menza successfully held one of the most coveted drum stools in metal with thrash titans Megadeth, appearing on four of their best studio albums and a handful of other tracks they recorded until his 1998 departure. We’re celebrating his work on this list of the Top 10 Nick Menza Megadeth Songs.
During the ‘90s, Menza also played drums on three solo albums released by his Megadeth colleague, guitarist Marty Friedman, and in 2002, he actually recorded a little-known (and sadly, very poorly produced) solo LP, named Life After Deth. So while his star may have faded, Menza never stopped performing, and that’s precisely what he was reportedly doing when he collapsed midway through a set by the band Ohm, in Los Angeles.
Our list focuses mostly on his work with Megadeth, but also includes one of the songs he cut with Friedman. Check it out below.
Nick Menza’s session work on Marty Friedman’s three ’90s solo albums mostly entailed slow, spare beats backing fluid, new age guitar musings. But Menza finally got a chance to show some of his familiar percussive chops on the jazz-fusion-inspired “Espionage,” from Friedman’s rather more energetic solo effort, True Obsessions.
A pounding, hypnotic beat simply dominates this opening track from Youthanasia, displaying the consistent power Menza had to deliver in order to drive the Megadeth machine. A payoff comes each time Nick finally snaps the built-up tension with his fills, and when the song is winding down, it is again his echoed drums that see the us to the finish line.
“Tornado of Souls”
Often lost behind the dueling guitar shredding master-class put on by Dave Mustaine and Friedman all over “Tornado of Souls” is one of Menza’s most diverse percussive displays. Pay attention as he continually shifts in style and tempo, stops and starts on a dime, before accelerating through to the song’s conclusion — always serving the needs of his “string section” to perfection.
“Architect of Aggression”
This overlooked gem from the smash-filled Countdown to Extinction album features Nick firing off his very best snare drum rat-tat-tat behind Dave’s snarling verses. This tactic is interspersed with a commendably steady, monster groove that ensures the song can keep chugging right along, despite its almost dangerously deliberate tempo.
“Holy Wars…The Punishment Due”
Fans couldn’t have asked for a better introduction to Megadeth’s then-new drummer, who immediately suggested he might outlast his predecessors with a two-in-one tour de force across Rust in Peace’s gauntlet-throwing opener. On the song’s first half, Menza is all flailing thrash limbs, on the second he is the consummate time-keeper, never letting the song’s ambitious tempos get away from him.
By and large, 1997’s Cryptic Writings was the album where Megadeth pushed their commercial aspirations a little bit too far. But even though that meant an abundance of slow-to-mid-paced songs, Nick was finally allowed to let fly on the thrash-tastic outlier “The Disintegrators.” In fact, this ranks right up there with the fastest Megadeth songs recorded during Menza’s tenure.
If you’re looking for some rock-steady reliability then look no further than “Hangar 18,” which showcases Menza bashing away just like a metronome for most of the song’s duration. But then the band unleashes an unexpected second solo section, which demands an even more intense and syncopated attack from Nick, which he pulls off with aplomb.
With its signature percussive punctuations and flowing groove, “Sweating Bullets” has to be one of the best showcases for Nick Menza’s versatile talents. Without his perfectly placed contributions, it’s unlikely that this tune about nervous anxiety would have felt so darn nerve-wracking, nor would it have given us such a fascinating glimpse into Dave Mustaine’s tortured psyche.
“Rust in Peace…Polaris”
Listen to the impressive drum tattoo kicking off this two-part title track from 1990’s Rust in Peace and you’ll hear all the brute strength and raw energy Nick Menza brought to the Megadeth drum kit. But it doesn’t end there, as the song follows a particularly thorny arrangement (even by Mustaine standards) that keeps Menza on his toes as though this was his trial by fire into Megadeth.
“Train of Consequences”
This first single from 1994’s platinum smash Youthanasia swings just like the dickens, thanks to you-know-who. More so than most Megadeth songs, “Train of Consequences” shows Nick going full-on octopus all over his kit, tossing out choice fills when needed and riding cymbals for all he is worth behind the song’s chorus – very much like the clickety-clack of a train’s wheels on the tracks.