Despite all of their amazing success, it's hard not to see Megadeth as the most underrated band in metal history. After all, everything they do is compared to the once-in-a-lifetime commercial success of the band frontman Dave Mustaine used to be a part of: Metallica.
And now, of course, we're guilty of doing the very same thing. So, let's try to make amends by looking at 10 great Megadeth songs that didn't and still don't get nearly the attention they deserve. One thing we think this list shows quite clearly is that Mustaine has continued to push himself with new music and new ideas long past the point in his career when many acts are satisfied with just cranking out the old hits each summer. So warn the neighbors, get the sharp objects out of the room and enjoy our list of Megadeth's 10 Most Underrated Songs:
'I Thought I Knew It All'From: 'Youthanasia' (1994)
Lets start our underrated Megadeth songs list off with a tune from the great 'Youthanasia' album. Not only does 'I Thought I Knew It All' feature the catchiest opening riff this side of Metallica's 'Master of Puppets,' but also some darn fine songwriting, and even some surprisingly zen insight from the usually more fiery Mustaine: “Somewhere there's a reason why things go like they do / Somewhere there’s a reason why somethings just fall through.”
'Recipe for Hate... Warhorse'From: 'The World Needs a Hero' (2001)
Next up, from the 2001 semi-comeback album 'The World Needs a Hero,' we have 'Recipe for Hate… Warhorse.' Once this song kicks into its second act around 2:30 you may want to sit down and hold on, as Mustaine and company ratchet things up far more than just one gear. Lyrically, this one's pretty bleak: “I’m feeling quite invisible / I’m feeling like thin air / The truth taunts me / That nobody wants me” Come to think of it, it's almost like they've been reading from our high school diary.
'Of Mine and Men'From: 'The System Has Failed' (2004)
Dave Mustaine gets a lot of credit for his guitar skills, obviously. But we don’t think he gets the attention he deserves an a songwriter, and this musically slow-burning, shockingly clear-headed look back at his younger days from 'The System has Failed' proves it: “I was legal now at twenty-one / I knew the way the world should run / My God just look what I had done / Simply drunk and having fun / I looked for friends but I found none, all alone at twenty-one.”
'Forget to Remember' From: 'Super Collider' (2013)
We could easily have filled this list of underrated Megadeth songs with tracks from their newest release 'Super Collider' -- if you ask us, too many of you slept on this one! But for variety's sake we'll stick with just 'Forget to Remember,' a heavily grooving and heartfelt tribute to someone suffering from Alzheimer’s. Mustaine's come a long way in his career, from writing goofy songs about waking up his girlfriend to dealing with a devastating subject such as this. “If this is living, what the hell is living for? / You’ve boarded up your eyes, your mind has locked the door / I’m just a stranger now with an unfamiliar face / You can’t recall me at all, there’s not a trace.”
'Blessed Are the Dead' From: 'United Abominations' (2007)
The last decade or so has been an especially fruitful time for Megadeth -- they've released five albums during that span, unlike some unnamed groups who have managed, oh let's see... one. 'Blessed Are the Dead' from 2007's 'United Abominations' shows that when Dave Mustaine decides he wants to get a song stuck in your head for weeks on end he can easily do it. When the first churning chorus hits around 1:10, try not to sing along too loudly out the window -- and if you can't resist, here's hoping your neighbors are more forgiving than ours were. This whole album is pretty killer in fact, but very rarely does any of it get played live. We for one would love to hear them bust this underrated gem out and give it the live showing it deserves.
'Back in the Day'From: 'The System Has Failed' (2004)
“Where were you when it happened? / Where could you be found? / Were you at the front of the stage? / Or in the underground?" This song asks fans to travel back to the magical moment when they realized metal was their music of choice. Another of the rarely played but totally awesome Megadeth tracks, this nimble display of fretboard mastery was a single from the great 'The System Has Failed' album. It's a killer throwback to the days when leather was tight and denim was found on the back of every would-be rocker worth their weight in old copies of 'Hit Parader.' Don’t believe us? Well just ask Duck Dodgers and MegaDUCK...
'99 Ways to Die' From: 'Hidden Treasures' (1995)
Featuring a truly killer riff, a sprinkling of surprisingly subtle Latin guitar flourishes and a strong anti-suicide message, the Grammy-nominated '99 Ways to Die' is not only underrated but completely underplayed. Mustaine can relate to the pain in the protagonist's head -- “There’s a prison in my mind, and the bars are gonna break / I’m as mad as a hatter, and strung out just the same." But he also seems to be relaying an important message from above: "We're not ready to see you yet."
'13'From: 'Thirteen' (2011)
The epic "slow to fast" closing title track to the group's 2011 effort may not have the catchiest title around, but it makes up for it in spades both musically and lyrically. “Thirteen times I went to the well to draw my thoughts / I’ll gather and tell, like bricks that I’ve laid to build my life / Those that crumbled only caused me strife.” Thirteen times, thirteen albums, you make the connection. We can safely say that this is a great song from an elder statesman of metal who could just as easily not make new albums and be a human iPod, only playing the hits in concert. Thankfully, Mustaine doesn’t seem content with that -- and once things go wonderfully haywire around the 3:05 mark, we think you’ll be glad he isn’t.
'When'From: 'The World Needs a Hero' (2001)
At 9:13 long, the closing track from 'The World Needs a Hero' is a great example of Megadeth combining -- and dare we say improving on? -- the work left behind by the bands that influenced them. Around 3:47, Mustaine goes full-on Diamond Head and leaves us crumpled on the floor. “When no words are spoken, and pleas are ignored / Your tears go unnoticed, will you say enough." This song is without question a gem in the catalog of a band with many diamonds.
'Wanderlust' From: 'Risk' (1999)
Since this is the last song on the list, lets go out with a bang. From the controversial and massively underrated 'Risk', we give you 'Wanderlust.' Now put down the pitchfork and step away from the keyboard, just hear us out. It’s not your typical Megadeth tune, admittedly -- but that’s just what makes this so special. “I’m an outcast riding into town alone / I’ve got wanderlust, branded deeper than the bone.” Clint Eastwood would be proud of those lyrics, right? Besides, not every song needs to melt your face off to be killer, and 'Wanderlust' is a perfect example of Mustaine's range. “Life’s an endless showdown, never knowing when they’ll come / I sleep with one eye open, lying with my smoking gun.” Awesome stuff from one of the greatest metal bands of all time. Now, where did we leave that air guitar?