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.