One of the biggest metal bands in the world, Megadeth have really done it all and seen it all – countless lineup changes, label switches, breakups, Grammy wins, top 10 albums, world tours… They’ve ridden the treacherous road of the music biz, and come out the other side as certified heavy music legends.
With over 2000 concerts, fifteen studio albums (with number sixteen around the corner) and almost four decades of history, there are heaps of Megadeth material that could be considered deep cuts. Dozens of songs have never been played live, bonus tracks only released in certain markets and a few random covers to boot.
Dave Mustaine and company have already released a compilation of various movie soundtrack and tribute album appearances back in the 1995, Hidden Treasures, so for a challenge we’ll avoid selecting tracks on there – so don’t comment asking where “Go To Hell” or “Angry Again” is! We’ve also actively tried to choose a wide spattering of different songs, representing their early days to their recent history. So, with that mind, let’s have a look (and listen) at ten of Megadeth’s most underrated deep cuts…
Named after the old Los Angeles police code designated for a DUI, the appropriately wild “502” teeters on the edge of being out of control from the get-go. Opening side two of 1988’s So Far, So Good… So What!, “502” has only been played a mere three times live by Megadeth, which is crazy as the high energy track could easily be used a concert opener. Perhaps the usage of studio effects in the bridge, to simulate a driver being pursued by the police, is the reason the song was quickly pulled from the setlist back in the day. Nonetheless, “502” is excellent, yet highly underrated, example of the pure thrash/speed metal early days of Megadeth.
No, “Bodies” is not another Sex Pistols cover by Megadeth (they’ve already done two), rather an original track off of 2009’s Endgame. Considered by many as their best album in a long time, the pumping pace of “Bodies” occupies the middle ground of the classic Megadeth sound – thick guitar work in the verses, with a catchy, memorable chorus. Plus the bridge passage highlights the excellent musicianship of the then-debuting, now former, guitarist Chris Broderick. “Bodies” is a strong tune that stands shoulder to shoulder with some of the bigger numbers from Endgame, but has overshadowed by it’s peers and has been tucked away in the middle of the LP.
Blood of Heroes
The melodic, mid-paced stomp that drives the bulk 1994’s Youthanasia might have turned off a lot of old-school Megadeth fans, but there’s still a lot of great material to be found. One track that has been overlooked for along time, including the band in the live setting, is “Blood of Heroes”. After the moody classical guitar and orchestral strings intro, it’s down to business with a thumping verse, before moving into a killer pre-chorus/chorus passage. “Blood of Heroes” could easily have been released as a single and given a spot in their live set, but alas it wasn’t meant to be. Coupled with rumoured plans for Megadeth to play Youthanasia in it’s entirety never materialising, “Blood of Heroes” has been somewhat forgotten by all except the die-hard 'Deth fans.
Crown Of Worms
Co-written by Diamond Head frontman Sean Harris, the fantastic “Crown of Worms” definitely has a vibe of classic NWOBHM meets early 90s Megadeth to it. The driving rhythm section and strong guitar work serve as the spine of the song, with Dave Mustaine at his peak vocal powers here. It was released as a standalone single in 1994, before making it’s way onto the remastered version of Countdown to Extinction ten years later. “Crown of Worms” has been performed live five times back in ’95, including at London’s Brixton Academy with Harris – however, it was ignored when the band played the album in it’s entirety to celebrated it’s 20th anniversary. The only really criticism that could be attached to it is it’s somewhat abrupt ending – another chorus section would have rounded of the proceedings nicely.
A Megadeth-ed reworking of Lee Jackson’s “Grabbag” piece, originally created for the 1996 Duke Nukem 3D game, “Duke Theme” featured on the game’s Atomic Edition expansion pack. The cover pumps up the riffing and adds some great guitar harmony passages – it’s arguably the band’s instrumental piece, and is sounds taylor-made for live sporting events. There’s a couple of different versions of the song floating around – one with more effects on the guitar work and with quotes from the game, and another that is a little more stripped back sonically without said dialogue. "Duke Nukem" has popped up on a fair few different physical releases – the Japanese edition of Risk, the Warchest boxset and the game’s soundtrack album Duke Nukem: Music to Score by.
Looking Down The Cross
From Megadeth’s ultra-rough debut Killing Is My Business… And Business Is Good!, “Looking Down the Cross” is probably the album’s least talked about song. A relatively to the point retelling of what was probably going through Jesus’ head during his crucifixion, the track builds up the pace and tension as it progresses. With MegaDave’s conversion to Christianity in recent years, it’s surprising the band haven’t revisited it since the late 80s. Like anything off of the first Megadeth album, it’s highly recommended that you check out the Final Kill version released in 2018, with the new mixes by Mark Lewis blowing away their original, budget-constrained counterparts.
Perhaps a bold choice to consider “Lucretia” a deep cut, as it features on the band’s most well known record Rust In Peace, one could argue it’s been overshadowed by at least four other big tunes on the LP. It’s packing some great riffs, and the guitar solo is one of Marty Friedman’s finest (and that’s saying something), perfectly encapsulating his ‘song within a song’ style of lead playing. “Lucretia” was played semi-frequently throughout the early 90s, before being dropped from their setlist by the middle of 1993, before being given one last hurrah in 2010 on the 20th anniversary tour for Rust In Peace. Somehow it’s also never been featured on one of the many Megadeth compilations, so for those facts alone we’re considering “Lucretia” a superb, underrated track.
Recipe For Hate… Warhorse
The World Needs A Hero is a bit of a forgotten album in Megadeth’s back catalogue. Coming after their nadir Risk and before the mid-00s comeback, it’s not the group’s finest hour, but does pack some great material, such as “Dread and the Fugitive Mind” and “1000 Time Goodbye”. One song that is never talked about is “Recipe For Hate… Warhorse”. Possibly the LP’s heaviest track, it features lots of different elements, from rampaging drums and wild guitar solos, to neo-classical elements and spoken word vocals. Plus, it features the classic ‘two-songs-one’ structure that Megadeth have used countless times, with the headbang-able “Warhorse” section built for the live setting.
A track that didn’t make the final cut for the Kiss My Ass: Classic Kiss Regrooved tribute album, released in 1994, Megadeth’s take on Kiss’ “Strange Ways” (a lesser known song in of itself) sat in the band’s archives until it was unearthed for the Warchest boxset in 2007. Their take on the Ace Frehley-penned number sacrifices a bit of the original’s groove for a more driving attack, and Megadeth’s cover is certainly on-par, if not stronger, than a few of the reimaginings that did make the LP – *cough* Toad The Wet Sprocket *cough*.
2007’s impressive United Abominations furthered Megadeth’s resurgence, giving the band their highest charting position in well over a decade. Andy Sneap's mix is fantastic, with Mustaine and the new lineup sounding inspired and delivering some excellent songs, including the highly underrated “You’re Dead”. It’s riff central, from the spidery intro, to the great chorus, as well as a classic tempo change solo section, the tune ticks all the boxes you’d want from Megadeth – including some classic ‘tough-yet-tongue-in-cheek’ lyrics in the main hook (“One day I’ll day on your grave/Even if you’re buried at sea”).
How did we go? With SO many tracks to pick from, there’s easily enough material from Megadeth to create a second, or even third, list of forgotten deep cuts. Sound off below and tell us your favourite underrated Megadeth song!