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Megadeth shows no rust

Austin, Stubb's, March 26, 2010

Reviewed by Adi Anand

This year promises to be a stellar one for metal fans in Austin. Besides having the opportunity to catch speed metal pioneers Motörhead twice during the city's annual music festival SXSW earlier this month, Austinites can look forward to a whole slew of shows that cater to the die-hard headbanger in them. Kreator on March 27, Overkill on April 26, Obituary on June 6... the list goes on. But none of those bills are quite as mouthwatering as the one put forth at Stubb's this evening - Megadeth, Testament, and Exodus.

Openers Exodus and Testament were pillars of the thrash metal movement of the '80s, but never attained the mainstream following that Metallica, Megadeth, Anthrax and even Slayer did. Tonight, both bands proved that they were far from has-beens of the genre, delivering blistering sets that showcased their undoubted prowess to an audience all too eager to be transported back to the hey-day of the bands' careers.

Testament was much more successful in revving up the attendees, delving into their 1987 debut "The Legacy" repeatedly for classics like Do Or Die, Alone In The Dark and Apocalyptic City.

The evening, however, was all about Megadeth. This tour marks the 20-year anniversary of the release of their landmark fourth full-length "Rust In Peace." Armed with politically charged lyrics, typically brilliant guitar work and ringleader Dave Mustaine's ominous vocals, "Rust In Peace" addressed eternal issues like global warming and religious warfare, and ended up becoming Megadeth's timeless masterpiece.

Relentless chants of "MEGADETH" preceded the eventual arrival of Mustaine and company, who launched into She-Wolf off 1997's "Cryptic Writings as Stubb's" plunged into pandemonium. In My Darkest Hour and Skin Of My Teeth further whetted the adoring masses' appetite and the stage was now set for the marquee event.

Album opener Holy Wars... The Punishment Due, still so relevant after all these years, and Hangar 18, nominated for a Grammy Award in 1992, instantly confirmed that the (ever evolving) line-up was as tight-knit as one could have hoped for. As expected, the next hour was a smorgasbord of blistering guitar riffs, prog-metal suites, and anthemic choruses - an all out assault on any mortal's eardrums. Take No Prisoners had the legions singing along in unison, and with little banter between songs, Megadeth powered through the beloved record in fine form, turning in a truly virtuoso performance which culminated with a unforgettable rendition of the epic closer Rust in Peace...Polaris.

Symphony Of Destruction and Peace Sells garnered more vocal support from the tireless fans before the band closed out the night with a reprise of Holy Wars to rapturous applause. Mustaine and drummer Shawn Drover were unquestionably at the top of their game throughout the evening, guitarist Chris Broderick (who joined in 2008) seemed to be a perfect fit, and with original member Dave Ellefson back on bass as of last month, fans of the bands were left licking their chops in anticipation of the next phase of their heroes' esteemed career.

Whether the band ends up becoming a nostalgic act in the new decade or continues to record new albums, one thing is for certain - Megadeth's healthy catalog has forever attained them a loyal fan base and an indisputable spot in the very top tier of the metal genre.

(Photo of Dave Mustaine by Adi Anand)

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