Megadeth Evolves, Improves, But Keeps Heavy Metal Core

It’s undoubtedly hard to be a metal band these days. All eyes seem to be looking toward the alternative side of the musical spectrum, lingering less often on the old, weathered heavy metal beast.

Yet, as unfashionable as heavy metal may be, one of the genre’s most popular bands - Megadeth - is having a landmark year.

The band’s sixth and latest effort “Youthanasia,” which has been selling steadily since its debut at No. 4 on the pop charts in November, is being called Megadeth’s finest album.

And the hard-hitting quartet’s latest tour, which has been stopping at pavilions and arenas across the country since January, is also doing well.

Singer-guitarist Dave Mustaine, co-founding member of the 12-year-old band, is enthusiastic about his band’s success.

“It’s been rewarding, but we’ve been taking everything in perspective,” said the front man in a recent phone interview. “Supporting this record in the States has been great so far.”

At the same time, Mustaine and the rest of Megadeth, rounded out by co-founder and bassist Dave Ellefson, guitarist Marty Friedman and drummer Nick Menza, aren’t getting caught up in being rock stars.

“We’re having fun and we’re not really being too concerned with the status that goes along with it. That’s pretty much the last straw for a lot of bands, when they start getting tripped out on how big they are,” said Mustaine. “You start to lose your focus. It becomes like being better than the last record or being better than the next band. If you just make music for yourself, it doesn’t really matter.”

Making music for itself following a hard work ethic and humility are key ingredients that have contributed to Megadeth’s success.

Doing its own thing has also allowed the band to shape its sound over the years. Because of this, there’s been a noticeable album-by-album growth in Megadeth’s music.

From the long and drawn out heavy metal attacks of 1985’s “Killing Is My Business … and Business Is Good” and 1986’s “Peace Sells … But Whose Buying” to the snappy, razor-sharp jabs of 1994’s “Youthanasia,” Megadeth has been in a perpetual state of evolution.

This evolution has also attracted more fans with each new album.

And Megadeth fans are as loyal as they come.

“We have a really unique relationship with our fans,” Mustaine recently told another reporter. “We’re not only siblings, but we’re best friends, lovers and parents to them, too. Which I think is so flattering.”

In fact, Megadeth has created an incentive for fans to meet the band backstage at tonight’s concert. The first 200 fans at tonight’s concert with 10 pounds of canned food, which goes toward Megadeth’s Feed the Hungry food drive, get to meet Megadeth backstage.

Megadeth has also been instrumental in bolstering the careers of overlooked, head-banging bands by taking them on the road. During the “Countdown to Extinction” tour, it was the Stone Temple Pilots. This tour, it’s Corrosion of Conformity, a hard core/metal crossover band from North Carolina.

Corrosion of Conformity formed in 1982 as a socially conscious, hard core punk band.

Though the band has seen personnel changes and has shifted its music in several directions, Corrosion of Conformity remains a thought-provoking, political voice in its music.

And now, C.O.C., whose lineup consists of three originals - bassist-vocalist Mike Dean, guitarist Woody Weatherman and drummer Reed Mullin - and singer-guitarist Pepper Keenan, is becoming a widely recognized band, thanks to a strong new album titled “Deliverance.”

“We’re definitely starting to get some attention,” said Dean in a recent phone interview. “I think we got a fair amount of attention otherwise, but there’s people coming in that don’t really have much in common with where we come from … the whole hard core days.”

With the compelling, ironclad grooves, spooky vocals and Black Sabbath-style riffage of “Deliverance,” it’s apparent C.O.C. is appealing to a more metal-minded audience than a punk one.

MEMO: This sidebar ran with story: Megadeth Location and time: Coliseum, 8 tonight Tickets: $22.50 (day of show price)

This sidebar ran with story: Megadeth Location and time: Coliseum, 8 tonight Tickets: $22.50 (day of show price)

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