Dave Mustaine called it quits recently, claiming that a debilitating guitar-playing injury forced Megadeth into an early grave. Online rumors insist that Mustaine's notorious predilection for addiction was the real reason behind the split and that he actually busted his wrist in rehab. Either way, seeing the legendary Megadeth leader resort to the online auctioning of his guitar collection (as well as hawking a bizarre assortment of stage props, guitar picks and unused backstage passes) provides the sad-but-true icing on the cake. So the recent reissue of the group's pulverizing debut, 1985's Killing Is my Business ...
offers welcome relief from the discouraging Megadeth news of late. Mustaine is said to have been unhappy with the original Killing,
which was fraught with record-company edits, shoddy mixes and (perhaps worst of all, in the frontman's eyes) revised artwork. Now, this thrash-metal footnote has been given a studio facelift to Mustaine's notoriously picky specifications, unearthing a stone-cold classic. The throttling title track sets Mustaine's cat-scratch yelp to a flurry of geometric riffage and high-flying drum work.
The reissue's only downfall is the changes legally required on a cover of Nancy Sinatra's "These Boots Are Made for Walkin'." To include the number, Mustaine and company were forced to bleep out any altered words -- about half the tune. But the inclusion of the quartet's original three-song demo, full of tape hiss and pissy vinegar, is worth the price of admission. Even after being remixed, the three songs sound like they were recorded on a boombox -- underwater. But Megadeth's ephedrine energy and lightning-riding grit shine through the fog, and any band that submitted this demo today would be signed in an instant. Megadeth might be gone, but its debut lives.