Reviewed By Simon Milburn
Published 21 August, 2018
Megadeth reissues. Just those two words alone can be a sore point for any Megadeth fan. Hell, these days any kind of reissue can be a point of contention. Extra tracks, 180gram, bonus DVD, deluxe 28 disc, 5LP plus bonus cassette recorded in the original drummers garage… you name it from the good old days, and there’s probably a reissue of it somewhere. Sometimes, reissues can be great. Unearthing some rarities, demos, live cuts or just plain re-releasing something that has been out of print for many years.
All of that leads to me the latest Megadeth reissue, Killing Is My Business... And Business Is Good - The Final Kill. As the last part of the title suggests, this can be considered the ultimate version, the director’s cut, the “George Lucas final vision” of the original release. I love early Megadeth in particular, and for me, the original album like many from the ‘80’s is a perfectly preserved time capsule of the absolute savagery that Megadeth were able to deliver. That is captured not only in the songs themselves but the low budget mix that wraps up the entire thing. Hell, right down to the original (unplanned but now iconic) artwork, this album reeks of the ‘80’s in a good way, of course.
Now, Megadeth mastermind Dave Mustaine is no stranger to reissues. The 2004 series of reissues covered the band’s first eight releases to varying degrees of success. Not just remasters but remixes and in some cases re-recordings and edits. I like to pretend these do not exist and the less said about those, the better. Of course the Peace Sells... But Who’s Buying? deluxe 25th anniversary boxset was incredible. Now, Killing Is My Business is getting the deluxe treatment.
Listening to the original album, it certainly sounds fuller. The mix is more defined and you can hear some of the guitar parts that were buried behind the vocals and drums from the original albums. The drums sound more rounded and the vocals clearer. The album has been entirely remixed by Mark Lewis (Trivium, Devil Driver, Death Angel), and remastered by Ted Jensen and the final product sounds very lively overall. It’s helped by the fact that the remix has restored previously unheard parts and performances throughout. That is immediately noticeable during the extended version of “Last Rites” right before it segues into “Loved To Deth”. The classic original songs have never sounded clearer. The mix is very modern and loud, and my only real gripe is that is sounds a little too sterile at times particularly with the some of the changes to the drum tones throughout. “These Boots” finally returns to the album’s lineup, albeit it out of order and with re-recorded vocals true to Lee Hazlewood’s original lyrics. A lawsuit by Hazlewood against Megadeth had the song missing from the album for many years in the ‘90’s before it reappeared in 2002 full of censored beeps throughout Mustaine’s lyrics. It sounds weird hearing this song as it was intended if Mustaine followed the original version and the re-recorded vocals as well as the true vocals make it sound all the more unusual after hearing with the original Megadeth version for 30 plus years.
To flesh out the bonus tracks on this definitive version of the album, Mustaine has cleared house unearthing bootleg videos from the ‘80’s and provided live cuts of the seven original Megadeth tracks. The quality varies as you’d expect and they are certainly a nice little add on to this deluxe edition. The energy and intensity of Megadeth live back in the day is pretty well captured in these blistering live performances. I just wish the after track banter was cut out, especially when it leads into a song in the setlist from Peace Sells... which has nothing to do with this particular album.
Rounding out the release are three recordings from Megadeth's Skull Beneath The Skin 1984 demo which have also been remastered. Showing the band in their purest form complete with the fade ins and fade outs as well as a bit of tape hiss, they highlight the furious vision that Mustaine had for the band early on that would put them on the path to being one of the world’s biggest and most influential metal bands.
It took me a while to warm to this reissue, mostly because of the remix and the fact that I was so familiar with the sound of the original release. Mustaine’s aim was to deliver a reissue that matched his intended vision of an album that is 33 years old and he’s undoubtedly done so.
Sony Music Australia