Great Metal Albums of 1986: Megadeth- Peace Sells But Who’s Buying?

They weren’t called “The Big 4” back in 1986 but history has now taught us that 86 was the year which all four bands under that title came out with pivotal albums. Three of which, I have already posted about, Metallica’s “Master of Puppets,” Anthrax’s “Spreading the Diseases” and “Reign in Blood” from Slayer. Last but certainly not least, (I will never state a preference of these albums because it will result in a “Scanners” effect), is Megadeth and their album, “Peace Sells But Who’s Buying?” With the benefit of historical hindsight, I can definitely conclude that 1986 was the year which sprung thrash metal into the limelight with these four bands and their fantastic albums leading the charge.

What “PSBWB” did for me was to satisfy my ever-growing appetite for things thrash back then. Hearing those riffs would get me out into a mosh pit, even now. In addition, some of the songs seemed to speak directly to me. Many times I felt like the opener, “Wake Up Dead,” after a good night in the college bar, which wasn’t all the often at the time but that’s another story. I didn’t realize the Dave Mustaine wrote the song because he was cheating on his girlfriend at the time and feared getting caught. While I’m not a Satanist, I was still very fond of black metal songs like “The Conjuring” because it was something I could listen to in defiance of the religious nuts in America, even though I was in England.

In regards to the title track, I have to agree with the masses that it’s a monster of a song, definitely up there in my all time list of favourite Megadeth songs. I was harbouring similar feelings towards the USA as Dave was at the time so the lyrics seemed to speak to me on a very personal level. On top of that, he sings the song with that sinister sneer in his voice, something I have always liked about him. Then if that’s not enough, the song ends with the title repeated in a way which invites the listener to engage and a thrashing good mosh.

While “PSBWB” is a definite thrash album, tracks like “Devil’s Island” make it so, there are some less thrashy moments as well, which in no way detract from the enjoyment of the album. “Good Mourning/Black Friday” starts with a cool melodic lead guitar intro which shatters the myth that thrash musicians can’t play their instruments. However, that intro serves to lull you into a false sense of security before the second half of the song goes full blow out your ears thrash. I do love the guitar solo on this part of the song. But that’s not all, the band unveil a further surprise in the bluesy sounding “I Ain’t Superstitious,” a cover of an old Howlin’ Wolf song from the 1960s. This track is such a pleasant surprise that I call it the hidden gem on the album. The way its played, you can’t help just to bob away to it and the guitar solo is just outstanding. Even though it might be a contrast with the total thrash out of a closer that is “My Last Words,” which is about playing Russian Roulette, it works perfectly.

Track Listing:

  1. Wake Up Dead
  2. The Conjuring
  3. Peace Sells But Who’s Buying
  4. Devil’s Island
  5. Good Mourning/Black Friday
  6. Bad Omen
  7. I Ain’t Superstitious
  8. My Last Words

Dave Mustane- lead vocals, guitar

Chris Poland- guitar

David Ellefson- bass, backing vocals

Gar Samuelson- drums

“Peace Sells But Who’s Buying?” joins the albums from the other three big 4 bands to mark 1986 as a very big year in thrash metal. While other bands would also begin to stamp their mark on the thrash world, it is Megadeth and the other bands which started the avalanche.

Next post: Some Remaining Bits of 1986

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40 Responses to “Great Metal Albums of 1986: Megadeth- Peace Sells But Who’s Buying?”

  1. Awesome response to this one. I always struggle to get through an entire Megadeth album in one sitting, but this is one of the ones I love (in smaller chunks). Awesome thrash.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I enjoyed this review. I am not a fan of Mustaine’s voice, but he does write some killer riffs. I haven’t gotten past the hits, but I really want to give this band a chance because they are one of the big 4. I’ll just have to keep trying, even if it takes me a thousand tries to get into them.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, I can recommend this album as a good place to start.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Make sure to listen to the original mix, Lana. It’s so much better.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Ok I’ll give the original mix a shot. Thanks Holen!

        Liked by 2 people

      • Megadeth went back and remixed all their old stuff for the 2004 re-masters, and I think they’re all basically ruined. Luckily subsequent remasters of Peace Sells and Rust in Peace restore the original mixes, but for Killing is My Business and So Far, So Good… So What! you’ll have to find the original CD pressings. Good luck with the former, but the latter I still see in used shops occasionally. If you find an original CD copy of the first album with the uncensored “These Boots” on it you’ll be sitting on a small gold mine. It was taken off or censored on every subsequent edition.

        Liked by 2 people

      • Artists swear in their songs, so why would they need to censor that? Pretty weird. I’ve never heard of albums where the remasters is worse than the original.

        Liked by 2 people

      • It was censored because “These Boots” is a cover of a song written be Lee Hazlewood. When he heard the cover, he was offended by the lyrics that Mustaine changed and made vulgar, and forbade them from continuing to have it out with the profane lyrics.

        I think most original albums sound better than the re-masters. Most re-masters are just made louder, at the expense of quality. You can only make it so loud before you lose dynamic range, and then the signal starts cutting off and you get static. Like the AC/DC original CDs sound way better than the re-masters too, particularly Back in Black, Highway to Hell, and For Those About to Rock. They were mastered by Barry Diament, a good guy who doesn’t use compression. His Led Zeppelin CDs from the ’80s are also still the best sounding versions.

        Here’s a video showing what I’m talking about. Why I don’t buy a lot of new music, or re-masters.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Oh it was a cover and the original artist was offended by the Megadeth version, got it.

        Ok so re-masters are to be made louder, not necessarily improve the quality? The video reminds me of when I first started listening to Queen and I downloaded the remastered versions of their songs on Spotify. I’m not sure if the remasters have the same effect for streaming sites, but when I listened to the non-remastered versions or songs like “We Will Rock You” and “We are the Champions,” they were much softer compared to the remastered versions.

        Liked by 2 people

      • Basically yes. A lot of times they use better tape sources than the originals, but the increase in volume at the expense of quality isn’t worth it to me. They say it’s to improve quality, but it’s more likely they just want to make it loud and sell you the same album again. The reason people started making them loud around the ’90s was so that songs would stand out more if played in a public place, but streaming services automatically adjust the volume by default now, so all they’re really doing is just making the quality worse.

        On top of the streaming services mostly using the loud re-masters of albums, they also use lossy compression, so you’re not getting the very top of the top end of the sound or the very bottom end.

        Liked by 2 people

      • I’ll take your word for it because I won’t be able to tell the difference since most of my CDs are re-masters. Didn’t they ever consider that making the songs louder can make people more deaf? Does the loudness also drown out the singer’s voice as well?

        Liked by 1 person

      • I think it’s worse on drums more than anything since they’re the most dynamic instrument in rock mix, but you have to take it on a case by case basis.

        I don’t think making them louder makes people deaf since people still have control of the volume setting on their playback devices. It’s just fatiguing to listen to since there are no dynamics.

        Liked by 2 people

      • I never realized any of this, it’s good to know. Thank you.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Back in the olden days of CD they used production copies of tapes made for vinyl a lot of the time as a source so they could have a product that “sounds like the vinyl” since that’s what consumers were used to hearing. But unfortunately those tapes weren’t the master, so quality was slightly degraded, and the had all the limitations inherent to vinyl LP mastering. Limiting, special EQ, folding the bass frequencies to mono, etc. A lot of re-masters are from the original tapes, but then they brickwall the shit out of them. Also because the master tapes for those albums are so old now, sometimes the safety copies are in better shape.

        The benefits of being aware!

        Check out this site… type in any album.


      • For Lana’s benefit, here’s the original version of For Those About to Rock mastered by Barry Diament. I believe he’s said before its from the original masters. You get 12dB on average of dynamic range…


      • The re-master only gives you 7.


      • Personally, I can’t hear the bass on most albums. So if the bass is buried with the drums and other instruments on the remasters, then I wouldn’t like that.

        Oh ok, because the remasters have no dynamics, then everything is all one sound? If that’s what you’re saying then I think I understand where you’re coming from. I took band in high school and dynamics are really important. The crescendos and descrendos set the mood.

        Liked by 1 person

      • In a basic sense yes. That’s it. There’s only so loud you can get a CD before it starts to distort and the waveform is cutoff. This pictures shows you the waveform of Metallica’s super loud Death Magnetic, and the Guitar Hero version which doesn’t feature the compression that the official master does.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Glad I understand that now. That’s why it was called the wall effect right? Because there weren’t any variations in the sound wave that it looked like a brick. I didn’t know Death Magnetic was on Guitar Hero though.


      • Like

      • That would be a huge find! It’s a shame that the writer of the song got his panties in a twist because Dave swears on his version forcing him to make a ‘cleaner’ version.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I’ve got the Music for Nations original CD with the uncensored “These Boots” on it, and I’m very happy to own it.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I second that.


  3. metalstoic Says:

    Mustaine is the greatest riff writer in the history of thrash, in my opinion. This album is a prime exemplification.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Love this album! I’d place it just behind Rust In Peace. Although Wolf wrote I ain’t Superstitious, I believe Megadeth was channeling the Jeck Beck cover:

    Liked by 1 person

  5. When did that “Big 4” tag start? 1990-1991?

    I like this record a lot.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Top album and nice review of it. Agree about Dave with that sinister sneer to his voice – just awesome to hear that.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. As a non-thrasher (at the time) I found this one to be the most accessible of any of the big 4 – the title track was basically snotty punk.

    Liked by 1 person

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