Killing Is My Business... and Business Is Good!

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Killing Is My Business... and Business Is Good!
Combat KIMB.jpg
The original cover art created by Combat Records
Studio album by
ReleasedJune 12, 1985 (1985-06-12)
RecordedDecember 1984–January 1985
Genre Thrash metal [1]
Label Combat
Megadeth chronology
Killing Is My Business... and Business Is Good!
Peace Sells... but Who's Buying?
Alternative cover
The 2002 remastered/remixed CD edition cover art redesigned from Mustaine's 1985 sketches

Killing Is My Business... and Business Is Good! is the debut studio album by American thrash metal band Megadeth, released on June 12, 1985 by Combat Records. At the beginning of 1985, the band was given $8,000 by Combat to record and produce its debut album. The band was forced to fire their original producer and produce the album by themselves, after spending half of the album's budget on drugs, alcohol, and food. Despite the resulting poor production, the album was a well-received effort that obtained strong reviews in various music publications. Killing Is My Business... and Business Is Good! played an essential role in establishing thrash metal as an authentic subgenre of heavy metal music. It explores themes of death, occultism, and violence.

Thrash metal is an extreme subgenre of heavy metal music characterized by its overall aggression and often fast tempo. The songs usually use fast percussive beats and low-register guitar riffs, overlaid with shredding-style lead guitar work. The lyrical subject matter is often sympathetic to liberal social issues and often deals with criticisms of The Establishment, and at times shares a disdain for Christian dogma resembling that of their black metal counterparts. The language is typically quite direct and denunciatory, an approach borrowed from hardcore punk.

Megadeth American Thrash Metal band

Megadeth is an American heavy metal band from Los Angeles, California. Guitarist Dave Mustaine and bassist David Ellefson formed the band in 1983 shortly after Mustaine's dismissal from Metallica. Along with Metallica, Anthrax, and Slayer, Megadeth is one of the "Big Four" of American thrash metal, responsible for its development and popularization. Their music features complex arrangements and fast rhythm sections, and lyrical themes of death, war, politics, and religion.

Combat Records was an American independent record label from New York City. The label was home to predominantly heavy metal and punk rock acts including Megadeth, Circle Jerks, Nuclear Assault, OZ, Death, Dead Brain Cells, Possessed, Crumbsuckers, Agnostic Front, Agent Steel, Dark Angel, Heathen, Zoetrope and Exodus. In 2017, it was announced that Combat was being relaunched by Megadeth bassist David Ellefson and Thom Hazaert as a new label imprint under their EMP Label Group.


The album features the track "Mechanix", a song that frontman Dave Mustaine originally wrote for Metallica, and a controversial cover of the 1965 song "These Boots Are Made for Walkin'". A deluxe edition, completely remixed and remastered with several bonus tracks, was released through Loud Records on February 5, 2002. It features vastly different artwork, with its cover based on the version originally designed by Mustaine in 1985. All songs from the album were performed frequently during Megadeth's initial tour but have been steadily dropped from the setlist since. A new remastered version of the album called Killing Is My Business... and Business Is Good! - The Final Kill was released on June 8, 2018, which includes a remastered version of "These Boots", redone to Lee Hazlewood's version.

Dave Mustaine American musician

David Scott Mustaine is an American guitarist, singer, songwriter, actor and author. He is best known as the co-founder, lead vocalist, guitarist and primary songwriter of the American heavy metal band Megadeth, as well as the original lead guitarist of the American band Metallica.

Metallica American heavy metal band

Metallica is an American heavy metal band. The band was formed in 1981 in Los Angeles, California by drummer Lars Ulrich and vocalist/guitarist James Hetfield, and has been based in San Francisco, California for most of its career. The group's fast tempos, instrumentals and aggressive musicianship made them one of the founding "big four" bands of thrash metal, alongside Megadeth, Anthrax and Slayer. Metallica's current lineup comprises founding members Hetfield and Ulrich, longtime lead guitarist Kirk Hammett and bassist Robert Trujillo. Guitarist Dave Mustaine and bassists Ron McGovney, Cliff Burton and Jason Newsted are former members of the band.

These Boots Are Made for Walkin Song written by Lee Hazlewood and recorded by Nancy Sinatra

"These Boots Are Made for Walkin'" is a hit song written by Lee Hazlewood and recorded by Nancy Sinatra. It charted January 22, 1966, and reached No. 1 in the United States Billboard Hot 100 and in the UK Singles Chart.


Dave Mustaine was the original lead guitarist for Metallica. However, due to drinking, substance abuse, violent behavior, and personality conflicts with bandmates James Hetfield and Lars Ulrich, Mustaine was eventually fired from Metallica. [2] Two months after being fired from Metallica, Mustaine and bassist David Ellefson formed Megadeth in Los Angeles. [3] Mustaine later recalled: "After getting fired from Metallica, all I remember is that I wanted blood. Theirs. I wanted to be faster and heavier than them." [4] Fueled by the desire for revenge, Mustaine elevated the intensity of Megadeth's music in order to challenge his former band. [5] He sped up existing songs such as "Mechanix", which Metallica's new line-up adapted into the slower paced "The Four Horsemen". [6] Mustaine included his original version of the song on the album to "straighten Metallica up", as Metallica referred to Mustaine as a drunk, and said that he could not play guitar. [7]

James Hetfield American musician

James Alan Hetfield is an American musician, singer, and songwriter known for being the co-founder, lead vocalist, rhythm guitarist, and main songwriter for the American heavy metal band Metallica. Hetfield is mainly known for his intricate rhythm playing, but occasionally performs lead guitar duties and solos, both live and in the studio. Hetfield co-founded Metallica in October 1981 after answering a classified advertisement by drummer Lars Ulrich in the Los Angeles newspaper The Recycler. Metallica has won nine Grammy Awards and released ten studio albums, three live albums, four extended plays and 24 singles.

Lars Ulrich Danish musician

Lars Ulrich is a Danish musician, songwriter, actor, and record producer. He is best known as the drummer and co-founder of the American heavy metal band Metallica. The son of tennis player Torben Ulrich and grandson of tennis player Einer Ulrich, he also played tennis in his youth and moved to Los Angeles at age 16 to train professionally. However, rather than playing tennis, Ulrich began playing drums. After publishing an advertisement in The Recycler, Ulrich met vocalist/guitarist James Hetfield and formed Metallica.

David Ellefson Bass guitarist

David Warren Ellefson is an American bassist, co-founder and second-longest serving member of the American heavy metal band Megadeth from 1983 to 2002 and again from 2010. He has also been referred to as "Junior" to differentiate him from his bandmate Dave Mustaine, but does not go by this name professionally. Ellefson currently resides in Scottsdale, Arizona. In addition to playing bass guitar in Megadeth, Ellefson also has various side projects which include Temple of Brutality, F5, Killing Machine and Metal Allegiance.

After not being able to search for a vocalist for nearly six months, Mustaine decided to handle the vocal duties himself, while also serving as the band's primary lyricist, main songwriter, and co-lead and rhythm guitarist. [8] Megadeth recorded a three-song demo tape early in 1984 titled Last Rites, engineered by Karat Faye, and released it on March 9, 1984. On the strength of the demo, the band was asked to sign with the New York-based independent label Combat Records in November 1984. Early in 1985, Megadeth was given $8,000 by Combat to record and produce its debut album. [9] However, this proved not to be enough, and the band was given a further $4,000. Instead, a majority of the budget was spent on drugs, alcohol, and food, prompting the group to fire the original producer, and produce the record themselves. [10] The album was successfully recorded at the Indigo Ranch Studios, in Malibu, California. [11]

Malibu, California City in California, United States

Malibu is a beach city in western Los Angeles County, California, situated about 30 miles (48 km) west of Downtown Los Angeles. It is known for its Mediterranean climate and its 21-mile (34 km) strip of the Malibu coast, incorporated in 1991 into the City of Malibu. The area is known for being the home of Hollywood movie stars, people in the entertainment industry, and other affluent residents. Most Malibu residents live within a few hundred yards of Pacific Coast Highway, which traverses the city, with some residents living up to a mile away from the beach up narrow canyons. As of the 2010 census, the city population was 12,645.

Release and promotion

The album's artwork, featuring a plastic skull with tinfoil, was not intended to be the original artwork. [12] Both Mustaine and Ellefson had many phone conversations with Combat Records to get the cover artwork properly reproduced from a sketch given to them by Mustaine of a picture of Megadeth mascot Vic Rattlehead on the cover. [13] However the studio lost the artwork, and instead made their own improvised and low-budget replacement, with which Mustaine and the whole band were mortified. [7]

Vic Rattlehead

Vic Rattlehead is the illustrated mascot of the American thrash metal band Megadeth. Vic is a skeletal figure who embodies the phrase "See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil" as well as a symbol of censorship. His eyes are covered by a riveted-on visor, his mouth is clamped shut, and his ears are closed with metal caps.

Megadeth began with live performances before the record was released. Although not a member of the band, Kerry King of Slayer played lead guitar for a short period because Mustaine had not recruited a full-time guitarist yet. [14] In mid-1985, the group toured the United States and Canada for the first time, supporting Killing Is My Business... with Canadian speed metal band Exciter. [15] During the tour, guitarist Chris Poland abruptly left the band, and was replaced by touring guitarist Mike Albert. However, Poland rejoined Megadeth in October 1985, and stayed with the band up to the recording of the next album. [16]

Kerry King American musician

Kerry Ray King is an American musician, best known as a guitarist and songwriter for the American thrash metal band Slayer. He co-founded the band with Jeff Hanneman in 1981 and has been a member ever since.

Slayer American thrash metal band

Slayer is an American thrash metal band from Huntington Park, California. The band was formed in 1981 by guitarists Kerry King and Jeff Hanneman and vocalist and bassist Tom Araya and. Slayer's fast and aggressive musical style made them one of the founding "big four" bands of thrash metal, alongside Metallica, Megadeth and Anthrax. Slayer's current lineup comprises King, Araya, drummer Paul Bostaph and guitarist Gary Holt. Hanneman and drummers Dave Lombardo and Jon Dette are former members of the band.

Exciter (band) Canadian speed metal band

Exciter is a Canadian speed metal band from Ottawa, Ontario. They are widely considered to be one of the first speed metal bands and a seminal influence of the thrash metal genre. Exciter have sold nearly 300,000 units in the USA and a total sales close to 500,000 units worldwide. Despite many changes in personnel, the band has managed to keep a small but dedicated following for over 30 years.

The album was released on June 12, 1985. To date it remains the only Megadeth album that did not chart on the Billboard 200, primarily because it was released through an independent label with little promotion. [17] Nevertheless, the album still went on to become one of Combat Records' highest selling releases. Later that year, Capitol Records signed Megadeth as they began working on their second album, Peace Sells... but Who's Buying? , released the following year. [18] A limited edition of Killing Is My Business... and Business Is Good! was released in 2009. The CD itself is pressed on black plastic with grooves on the top to imitate an LP. This version's cover is redesigned to match Mustaine's original sketch, and the song "These Boots" was removed. Over 254,000 copies of the album were sold in the United States since the beginning of the Nielsen SoundScan era. [19] On April 6, 2018, it was announced that the album would once again be remixed and remastered, this time by Mark Lewis and Ted Jensen. Titled Killing Is My Business... and Business Is Good! - The Final Kill, the deluxe reissue features new mixes and masters of the original album, a new version of "These Boots" featuring Lee Hazlewood's original lyrics (albeit with the song downtuned as a result), the original 1984 demos featured on the 2002 remix, and newly-discovered live tracks sourced from VHS tapes found in Dave Mustaine's attic. The new remaster was released on June 8, 2018. [20]

Music and lyrics

According to writer Peter Buckley, the record presented a faster, "thrashier kind of heavy metal". [21] Steve Huey of AllMusic opined that the music on Killing Is My Business... and Business Is Good! is predominantly "chaotic", accompanied by "lightning-fast" solo sections. [22] Sputnikmusic's Mike Stagno said that the original pressing greatly suffered from the poor production, which made the record difficult to listen to. However, he noted that the music is performed at rapid speed, with precise riffing by both Poland and Mustaine. [23] In his book Mean Deviation: Four Decades of Progressive Heavy Metal , editor Jeff Wagner wrote the album displayed unusual rhythms and unorthodox guitar riffs, which carried "like a runaway train". [5] Speaking about the intensity of the record, Ellefson said that "extreme speed was deemed the cool factor in thrash metal back in those days". Although Ellefson considers the album as a solid debut release, he wanted some of the songs to be recorded in slower tempo. [24]

The album explores gloomy lyrical subjects such as death, violence, and occultism. Speaking about the themes on the album, author Bob Larson asserted that Megadeth "cranks out songs about spilling blood and stomping guts with venomous anger". [25] The album's title, as well as its lyrics, led to accusations whether the band was promoting Satanism. [26] These allegations were rigidly denied by Mustaine, who said that the band consciously kept away from the Satanic image. "I mean, it's great to thrash and pound, cut yourself up, scream and have fun, but you don't have to take out a Pagan attitude. Why support the Devil? He's already there. I'd rather just fucking thrash and be a metalist and listen to whatever I want to than be forced to listen to one style of music." [7]


The album's opening track, "Last Rites/Loved to Deth", consists of two parts. The first part, "Last Rites", is an instrumental segue featuring a piano intro, a reinterpretation of J.S. Bach's Toccata and Fugue in D Minor. [27] Mustaine explained that "Loved to Deth" was his "version of a love song" to his girlfriend at the time. [13] The title track was inspired by The Punisher comic book, and tells of a paid serial assassin. [28] The song caused minor media controversy when a man posted an online request to a radio station to play the tune, saying it was "good music to go postal and kill a bunch of people to". The man was later arrested under suspicion of commencing a potential shooting spree. [29] "The Skull Beneath the Skin" was developed under the working title "Self Destruct". [8] The song graphically describes a horrendous human torture, while also probing into the occult and black magic. [30] Mustaine pointed that the creation of Vic Rattlehead was explained throughout that track. "Rattlehead", according to Dave Mustaine, was dedicated to the band's mascot and their fans. [13]

"Looking Down the Cross" was penned by Mustaine in 1983 under the working title "Speak No Evil". [8] The song tells about the temptation of Jesus Christ, using religious metaphors and imagery. [31] "Chosen Ones" was partially inspired by Tim the Enchanter from the movie Monty Python and the Holy Grail . "Mechanix" was originally written by Mustaine during his tenure in Metallica; lyrically, it talks about having sex at a gas station. [28] The album features the first of many covers performed by Megadeth: a speed metal version of Nancy Sinatra's classic "These Boots Are Made for Walkin'", with lyrics altered by Mustaine. The song sparked controversy in later years when the song's original author, Lee Hazlewood, deemed Mustaine's changes to be "vile and offensive" and demanded that the song be removed from the album. Under threat of legal action, the song was removed from all pressings released after 1995. In 2002, the album was re-released with a modified version of the song; the altered lyrics were censored because Hazlewood has not given permission to the band to release the cover in its original version. In the liner notes of the album's reissue, Mustaine was strongly critical of Hazlewood, noting that he received royalties for almost 10 years before objecting to the altered version. [32]

Critical reception

Professional ratings
Review scores
AllMusic Star full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar empty.svgStar empty.svg [22]
Drowned in Sound 8/10 [33]
KNAC Star full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svg [27]
Q Star full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar empty.svgStar empty.svg [34]
Rock Hard9/10 [35]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide Star full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar empty.svgStar empty.svg [36]
Sputnikmusic 4/5 [23]

Killing Is My Business... and Business Is Good! received mostly positive reviews, not just from metal-oriented magazines, but from the mainstream press too. [36] Colin Larkin, writing in the Encyclopedia of Popular Music , called the album a "ferocious blast of high-energy thrash metal", weakened by a thin production. [18] Similarly, Steve Huey from AllMusic observed that the album is "as raw as Megadeth gets". However, Huey noted that the riffs and compositions weren't completely developed, and called Mustaine's vocals "amateurish at best". [22] Chad Bowar from said that Megadeth were still "finding their way" on their debut album, but remarked that the band showed great potential through angry and passionate musicianship. [37]

Adrien Begrand of PopMatters dismissed the original recording, but praised the re-release, writing that the album "blazes on at a furious pace". According to him, the record greatly influenced the heavy metal genre in the upcoming two decades. [28] Sputnikmusic staff member Mike Stagno agreed with the praise for the remaster, saying that the "fuzzy" sound of the original release was replaced with a clearer production. Even so, he opined that the album still retained the "thrashy" sound characteristic for the band during this period. [23] Mike Marsh of Drowned in Sound recommended the music "for people who want it loud, fast and brutal". [33] In a retrospective review for KNAC, Frank Meyer said that the album put Megadeth at the forefront of heavy metal scene in the early 1980s and credited it for paving the way for thrash metal's arrival. [27] CMJ New Music Report praised Mustaine's "masterful" wordplay and called the record a representative of "the golden age of speed metal". [38]

Track listing

All tracks written by Dave Mustaine, except "These Boots" by Lee Hazlewood.

Side one
1."Last Rites/Loved to Death"4:38
2."Killing Is My Business... and Business Is Good!"3:05
3."The Skull Beneath the Skin"3:46
4."These Boots" (releases after 1995 do not include this track)3:44
Side two
6."Chosen Ones"2:54
7."Looking Down the Cross"5:01
Total length:31:10
2002 reissue
1."Last Rites/Loved to Death"4:38
2."Killing Is My Business... and Business Is Good!"3:05
3."The Skull Beneath the Skin"3:46
5."Chosen Ones"2:54
6."Looking Down the Cross"5:01
8."These Boots" (all lyric variations by Mustaine are censored)3:44
9."Last Rites/Loved to Deth" (demo)4:16
10."Mechanix" (demo)3:59
11."The Skull Beneath the Skin" (demo)3:11
Total length:42:36
The Final Kill (2018 reissue)
1."Last Rites/Loved to Death"4:52
2."Killing Is My Business... and Business Is Good!"3:04
3."The Skull Beneath the Skin"3:43
5."Chosen Ones"2:54
6."Looking Down the Cross"4:59
8."These Boots" (vocals re-recorded with original Lee Hazlewood lyrics)3:36
9."Last Rites/Loved to Deth" (live, 1987 London, UK)4:48
10."Killing Is My Business... and Business Is Good!" (live, 1986 Denver, CO)4:07
11."The Skull Beneath the Skin" (live, 1990 London, UK)3:35
12."Rattlehead" (live, 1987 Bochum, Germany)4:04
13."Chosen Ones" (live, 1986 Denver, CO)3:49
14."Looking Down the Cross" (live, 1986 Denver, CO)4:39
15."Mechanix" (live, 1986 Denver, CO)3:46
16."Last Rites/Loved to Deth" (demo)4:15
17."The Skull Beneath the Skin" (demo)3:12
18."Mechanix" (demo)4:00
Total length:71:53


Production and performance credits are adapted from the album liner notes. [13]


The Final Kill

Chart (2018)Peak
Australian Albums (ARIA) [39] 84
Belgian Albums (Ultratop Flanders) [40] 79
Belgian Albums (Ultratop Wallonia) [41] 156
Greek Albums Chart [42] 48
German Albums (Offizielle Top 100) [43] 35
Japanese Albums (Oricon) [44] 35
Spanish Albums (PROMUSICAE) [45] 93
UK Albums Chart [46] 149
US Billboard 200 [47] 169

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