Posted by: ckckred | May 22, 2016

R.I.P. Nick Menza

nick_menza

I don’t usually recall the first time listening to albums, but I remember perfectly the first time I picked up Megadeth’s Rust in Peace.  I had only a casual knowledge of Megadeth then, having heard only several songs beforehand.  Within the opening minute of “Holy Wars,” I was already blown away at its technical marvel and speed.  That excitement continued to the melodically furious “Hangar 18,” the powerful “Tornado of Souls,” and the pounding title track.  Rust in Peace turned me into an ardent fan of Megadeth almost instantly, and soon after I began to explore the remainder of Megadeth’s discography.  It may be easy to dismiss Dave Mustaine for his inane political stances and antics offstage but he is undeniably one of the finest musicians in the metal world and it’s impossible to understate his impact of the thrash genre.

The reason for Rust in Peace‘s success in my eyes lies behind its line-up.  After So Far, So Good… So What!, Mustaine ditched guitarist Jeff Young and drummer Chuck Behler and hired shredder extraordinaire Marty Friedman and Nick Menza.  While Dave Mustaine tends to go through bandmates like flies, together the Rust in Peace is by far the best line-up the band ever assembled, which would go on to make the commercial masterpiece Countdown to Extinction, the still underrated Youthanasia, and Cryptic Writings (which, though far from perfect, is far superior than Metallica’s Load).

Menza’s work in Megadeth cannot be ignored.  While he only contributed to co-writing several of ‘Deth’s songs, his drum patterning is an essential part to the band’s wild success in the 90s.  Together with bassist Dave Ellefson, Menza had established thrash’s most formidable rhythm section.

After Menza left the band in 1998, he returned briefly in 2004, and before the release of Megadeth’s latest album Dystopia, there were rumors circulating around that Mustaine had rehired the Rust in Peace line-up.  Menza had played alongside several other bands within the last fifteen years, including Orphaned to Hate and Ohm (the latter of which included ex-‘Deth axeman Chris Poland).

Yesterday night, Menza past away due to heart failure while playing with Ohm in LA. 2016 has undeniably been a rough year for music fans, with the recent deaths of Lemmy and David Bowie.  Their work and Menza’s always made me feel comfortable no matter the situation: I remember in my senior year of high school always cranking up “Take No Prisoners” over the stereo when I drove to class, banging my head to the pulsating rhythm as I pulled out of my driveway.  May you rest in peace, Nick Menza.

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Responses

  1. I remember my first exposure to Megadeth well. I was about 15 and had been listening to Slipknot and Metallica. Then I heard Anthrax and my life changed. But when I heard Hangar 18…. I remember counting them…. one guitar solo, two, three, four…. Dave is an awesome lead guitarist.

    What I also remembered was, as you said, the interesting kick patterns that Menza used. As a drummer I thought I’d be alone in noticing them, but it seems I am wrong. He certainly made the Rust In Peace sound totally different to any other thrash album. Nothing sounds close to it, and no drummer played like him. He was a big influence for me.

    May he Rust In Peace

    great tribute mate. Damn what a horrible year it has been

    • Thanks man. I remember before I listened to Megadeth I was into more mainstream Guitar Hero-esque fare like Trivium. Afterwards I became obsessed, and there was a time in high school when I only exclusively listened to ‘Deth alongside Metallica and Slayer. Megadeth really turned me onto following more extreme forms of metal and played a central role in determining who I am today.

      2016 is a pretty terrible year so far indeed; within the past six months we’ve lost so many legendary musicians. I’m gonna binge all the Menza-era ‘Deth albums later this week, one of the best drummers in the thrash scene for sure.

      • Yeah he was/is criminally underrated. You are one of the few people, that I have read, who have commented on his unique kick patterns – RIP is totally a thrash album, but its unlike ANY other.

        Curious, how old are you? When I got into proper metal (and I don’t consider Metallica in that group) I was 16 I reckon, and I turn 30 in July. Trivium wasn’t around back in high school for me! I think Soilwork and Arch Enemy were becoming popular, back when melo-death was really big.

        man I could talk metal forever, there aren’t many genres I dislike.

      • I’m still in college, and I remember throughout middle school Guitar Hero and Rock Band were the biggest things ever, and they pretty much covered mostly the big metal core bands then. At the time I wasn’t much into music, but by high school I started listening to a ton of thrash before moving on to stuff like Lamb of God and The Black Dahlia Murder.

      • Ahh you must be younger than me then, your writing is well beyond your years my friend! When I first got into Anthrax and Megadeth that was just when metal-core got started. I couldn’t stand it haha, their ‘breakdowns’ annoyed me so much! Over the years I’ve explored all the genres, the only one I don’t like is power metal. I’m on a big black metal kick at the moment, been listening to a lot of Russian and Ukranian stuff

      • Metalcore was pretty unavoidable in the mid-2000s. Most of it is drek, but I am a big fan of Killswitch Engage.

        I like most metal genres too. The only genre I outright hate is nu-metal though.

      • oh nu-metal doesn’t count haha!! 😛

        Yeah there were a few that weren’t too bad, Shadows Fall were OK, but most of it annoyed me. Then ‘Deathcore’ came along, who knows what the trend is now

      • A couple of my friends are deathcore fans, and they like bands such as Whitechapel and Suicide Silence. I love death metal, but I’ve never been able to get into deathcore in general though.

      • Me neither. Its those breakdowns, they do my head in! I prefer old school DM, Death, Possessed, Impetigo, Repulsion, the good shit ;D My band is clusterfuck blend of 80’s DM, second wave black metal, a bit of doom, and plenty of punk and hardcore. Arrghhh I really want to see this movie!!!

      • Yeah for me deathcore is just too over-reliant on breakdowns. I’m really into death metal as well, be it old school, technical, or brutal, but I particularly love melodeath stuff.

      • I used to love melodeath stuff, now its mainly anything before ’95 or so. Heh, I was such a massive Soilwork fan too.

        And you’re right about deathcore, from the few bands I have heard, the breakdowns seem like half of every song

      • I love melodeath and in the last couple of years there’s been a great revival. We’ve had amazing reunions by Carcass and At The Gates, Skeletonwitch and BDM are still delivering the goods, and there’s a crop of great younger bands.

        I know a lot of people are deathcore fans and I like some of the stuff like All Shall Perish. But yeah, the breakdowns can really get on my nerves.

      • woah, Carcass -and- At The Gates? With the original vocalist, Tomas whathisname? Interesting, I’ll have to check that out. Over the years my tastes have shifted towards to most extreme sub-genres, I don’t really like much melody in my metal these days. I do like melodeath, and wouldn’t turn it off if someone put it on, but its been a long time since I played any myself… if you know what I mean.

        ….Apart from one album. A Predator’s Portrait by Soilwork. It still does it for me, couldn’t say why

        Random question, have you heard of Unsane? They aren’t metal, but they sound bloody heavy!

      • Carcass’ Surgical Steel is just as good as Heartwork and Necroticism in my opinion, and At The Gates’ At War With Reality blew me away as well. I’ve been disappointed with Soilwork’s recent output unfortunately, mostly due to the clean vocals, but I do like “A Predator’s Portrait.”

        I haven’t listened to Unsane before. I’ll check out some of their stuff right now.

      • Surgical Steel and At War With Reality are I assume their new albums? Holy hell I need to get a copy of both, if they are as good as the old stuff. I’ll have to check out youtube for some clips.

        Yeah I went off Soilwork after APP, but for me that album is one of the best melodeath albums ever.

        Let me know what you think of Unsane when you get a chance to listen to them mate, they are great! And they have that NY attitude in their music as well, which I love. Main reason why Anthrax is my favourite metal band

      • Both are masterpieces in my view. I’ve listened to Surgical Steel every other week for the past several years and still love it.

        Listened to Unsane’s debut yesterday. Great album. And as a New Yorker, I love their aggressive style.

      • Awesome! Each album is great, the best is Scattered, Smothered & Covered. But they are all great really, right up till their last album from 2013

  2. Random question dude, have you heard Impaler by Exodus? It is from Tempo of the Damned. Do you know the story behind it? Would love to hear your thoughts. Hint: it involves shitallica ;P

    Also are you on twitter?

    peace

    • If I’m remembering correctly, Impaler’s the only released Exodus song with a writing credit by Kirk. Listening it to again right now and I forgot how catchy it is. I like the Baloffian chorus, though it sounds a lot different with Zetro singing it.

      I actually don’t have a Twitter account, mainly because I think I’d get sucked into staying online all the time. I’m pretty sure I have a Facebook account but I haven’t opened that in about six years.

      • yeah, screw facebook, its a place for people to whinge and cry out for attention. For the most part anyways

        As for Impaler, go listen to the shitallica track Trapped Under Ice. Tom Hunting wrote it, Kirk stole it and it ended up on RTL. 20 years later, Impaler comes out and it fucking SLAYS the ‘original’. And yeah, would have great if Ballof was singing it – RIP – but Souza is pretty awesome too. Like Bon Scott on speed after chain-smoking 50 cigarettes. I love Bobby Blitz too, similar sound.

        ANYWAY, I’m sure the comparison of the two songs is on youtube, compare them, its great to hear about bad the first version was compared to Impaler. If you have RTL though you can compare them yourself. Let me know what you think eh?

        peace mate 🙂

      • Yeah, that’s the reason why I’ve tended to avoid social media. People just whine about the stupidest things.

        Strangely enough, I didn’t hear the resemblance until now, and I listen to RTL all the time. Personally I prefer Trapped Under Ice but Impaler is a killer song.

      • Video comparison:

        http://www.ultimatemetal.com/forum/threads/metallica-using-old-exodus-riffs.558464/


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