Looking back at albums turning 30 this year and seeing how they held up over time. These came out while I was in high school so most hold sentimental weight that I am going to shed the best I can listen to as objectively as possible. At this point they had outgrown thrash, Megadeth has always had a slight rock n roll swagger to their sound, must shed the technical fireworks of the previous album and the production streamlines the sound to compete with the more radio friendly production of the "Black Album " as Mustaine might have just released a masterpiece in "Rust in Peace" but he would not be content considering his former band mates just released the biggest selling album of their careers. This album might not be a sellout, but the heaviness was compromised to make it. The opening track is less aggressive and more rock in roll. His vocal is more of a throwback to their earlier work.
The first single might also be the album's strongest song. If his goal was to write a radio accessible metal, this hit a bullseye, as the guitars are crunchy enough to convince most, and the melodies are hooky enough to make you want more. I have always liked the groove of "Architecture of Aggression". The vocals flow well over the riffs. Mustaine has clearly been working on his singing as evident in "Foreclosure of Dream" but the verses sound like they could have come from a Skid Row album. Sure, the guitar playing is great, but a much more mainstream approach than the previous album. While I appreciate the Alice Cooper influence, lyrically this song is silly and that effects the tone of the overall song. There are some cool riffs even with the zaniness and even as cheesy as it might be it was till better than most of what was coming out at this time.
They are back to pretty much close peak Megadeth on "This Was My Life". The guitars have a great deal of drive to their chug and the sneering vocals of Mustaine exploring his inner mess. Going back to listen to this one you can hear how they dialed back the guitar solos on this one. The title track at times recalls "In My Darkest Hour" riff wise, but the overall tone of the album is not as dark as "So Far So Good So What". "High Speed Dirt" might have the album's best guitar solo but feels like filler aside from that. I might be an odd choice but my favorite song on this album is "Pyschotron" . There is a theatrical feel to the story telling of "Captive Honor" that recalls much of "Rust In Peace". "Ashes in your Mouth", it pretty much what you want from Megadeth, almost to a fault, but the heavily harmonized guitars make the most of it. This album is more metallic than it is heavy. It steered the course of their career which I feel has been circling this sound for the past thirty years, rather than the wilder and freer thrash that came before "Rust in Peace". I will give this album a 10 as the strongest moments compensate for Mustaines adapting to where the 90s were heading. .