Youthanasia [Bonus Tracks] [Remastered]

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The remixed and remastered Megadeth albums released in 2004 aren't your typical cash-ins. They're stark improvements over the originals: group leader Dave Mustaine did the remixing and remastering himself, making especially significant revisions to the earlier albums, and he includes insightful liner notes for each reissue, including track-by-track commentary for the bonus tracks, as well as lyrics and period photos. Like the other post-Rust in Peace albums, Youthanasia didn't get much of a makeover for its reissue. The album sounded great to begin with, so Mustaine didn't have much polishing up to do. What you get with this reissue then is essentially Youthanasia with the addition of some insightful liner notes and four bonus tracks, three of them demos. The liners confirm the conventional knowledge that Megadeth were undergoing some big changes at this point in their development. Their previous album, Countdown to Extinction, had been a mammoth commercial success and not least because the band had changed its style of music: the reckless thrash metal of the past was now streamlined à la Metallica -- the riffs were slowed down and simplified, the singing was brought from the periphery to the foreground, the lyrics were thoughtfully personal and political rather than fascinated with evil and hatred, and the band had lost touch with its audience as the thrash scene had been supplanted by the rise of alt-rock and death metal. Furthermore, as Mustaine writes in the first sentence of his liners, "Youthanasia...was plagued with problems from the outset." He then goes on to explain why this period was so frustrating for him -- from the recording process itself to the changing tides within the metal community -- and, in effect, tries to justify why so many fans got off the Megadeth train at this juncture. His reasoning is reasonable, but it belies the underlying obviousness of the matter: the Megadeth of the '90s was not the Megadeth of the '80s, and most fans preferred the drug-addled abandon of Mustaine's snarling youth to his self-serious change of face once he became an MTV-sanctioned superstar in the aftermath of Rust in Peace. That's not to say that Megadeth stopped making great music; in fact, some songs here, "A Tout le Monde" in particular, are among his best written and most heartfelt to date. To deny that would be a rhetorical stretch. But great music doesn't always equate to satisfied fans, and clearly Megadeth were falling out of favor with the public at this point. To revisit Youthanasia now affirms how far Megadeth had evolved since their fan-favorite days of Peace Sells and Rust in Peace -- perhaps beyond the point of turning back, as successive albums only magnified the problems plaguing this era of the band. As far as bonus tracks go, the demo of "A Tout le Monde" is a worthwhile listen, putting this standout song in a new, more personal light. ~ Jason Birchmeier, Rovi