Rust in Peace

Last updated
Rust in Peace
Studio album by
ReleasedSeptember 24, 1990 (1990-09-24) [1]
StudioRumbo Recorders, Canoga Park, Los Angeles [2]
Genre Thrash metal
Label Capitol
Megadeth chronology
So Far, So Good... So What!
Rust in Peace
Countdown to Extinction
Singles from Rust in Peace
  1. "Holy Wars... The Punishment Due"
    Released: September 23, 1990
  2. "Hangar 18"
    Released: February 4, 1991 [3]

Rust in Peace is the fourth studio album by American thrash metal band Megadeth, released on September 24, 1990 by Capitol Records. Following the departure of band members Jeff Young and Chuck Behler in 1989, Rust in Peace was the first album to feature guitarist Marty Friedman and drummer Nick Menza. Rust in Peace received universal acclaim from fans and critics, and was responsible for bringing Megadeth to the attention of a mainstream metal audience. It has been cited as one of the best thrash metal records of all time by publications such as Decibel and Kerrang! , and listed as one of the 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die . The album was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Metal Performance at the 33rd Grammy Awards. At the 1991 Foundations Forum, it won a Concrete Foundations Award for Top Radio Album and the single Hangar 18 won Top Radio Cut. [4] [5]

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 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 heavy 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.

Capitol Records American record label

Capitol Records is an American record label owned by Universal Music Group through its Capitol Music Group imprint. It was founded as the first West Coast-based record label "of note" in the United States in 1942 by Johnny Mercer, Buddy DeSylva, and Glenn E. Wallichs. Capitol was acquired by British music conglomerate EMI as its North American subsidiary in 1955. EMI was acquired by Universal Music Group in 2012 and was merged with the company a year later, making Capitol and the Capitol Music Group both a part of UMG. The label's circular headquarter building in Hollywood is a recognized landmark of California.


Two singles were released from the album: "Hangar 18" and "Holy Wars... The Punishment Due", which have become staples of the band's live performances. Rust in Peace features complex musical structures and lyrical themes such as nuclear war and UFOs. The album's cover art references "Hangar 18". A remixed and remastered version featuring four bonus tracks was released in 2004. In 2010, the band announced a North American tour to commemorate the album's 20th anniversary. The performance at the Hollywood Palladium was filmed and released as Rust in Peace Live on CD, DVD, and Blu-ray later that year.

Hangar 18 (song) 1990 single by Megadeth

"Hangar 18" is a song by American heavy metal band Megadeth from the 1990 album Rust in Peace. UFO conspiracy theories, or possibly Hangar 18, the 1980 film based on those theories, inspired drummer Nick Menza to write the lyrics. Shortly thereafter, frontman Dave Mustaine composed the bulk of the music. The intro is a rapidly strummed version of the D minor arpeggio that Mustaine wrote for the Metallica instrumental track "The Call of Ktulu", which was the final Metallica song for which he was given writing credit. Hangar 18 is located at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base near Dayton, Ohio, and it is speculated that an alien aircraft was brought there from Roswell in 1947. The song reached number #25 on the Irish Singles Chart, also reached number #26 on the UK Singles Chart.

Holy Wars... The Punishment Due single by Megadeth

"Holy Wars... The Punishment Due" is the opening track of thrash metal band Megadeth's 1990 album Rust in Peace. The song has an unusual structure: it opens with a fast thrash section, shifting at 2:26 after an acoustic bridge by Marty Friedman to a different, slower and heavier section called "The Punishment Due", interspersed by two guitar solos played by Friedman, before speeding up again with a third and final solo played during this segment by Dave Mustaine. The entire song is commonly referred to as "Holy Wars", with "The Punishment Due" referring to the heavier slower section.

Hollywood Palladium music and theatre venue in Hollywood, Los Angeles, California, United States

The Hollywood Palladium is a theater located at 6215 Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood, California. It was built in a Streamline Moderne, Art Deco style and includes an 11,200 square foot (1040 m²) dance floor including a mezzanine and a floor level with room for up to 4,000 people. The theater was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2016.

Background and production

In 1988, Megadeth appeared at the Monsters of Rock festival at Donington Park in the UK, alongside Iron Maiden, Kiss, Helloween, Guns N' Roses, and David Lee Roth. The band performed to an audience of more than 100,000 people [6] and was soon added to the "Monsters of Rock" European tour, but dropped out after the first show due to bassist David Ellefson's drug problems. [7] Further issues within the band caused frontman and guitarist Dave Mustaine to fire drummer Chuck Behler and guitarist Jeff Young, and canceled their scheduled 1988 Australian tour. [8] Nick Menza, previously Behler's drum tech, was hired as the band's new drummer. [9] The search for a new guitarist was a drawn out process; Mustaine examined a number of guitarists for the job, including Dimebag Darrell of Pantera and Jeff Waters of Annihilator, and the former was initially offered the job before declining. [10] According to Mustaine, one of the last guitarists he had heard about, Marty Friedman, had sent him a copy of Dragon's Kiss , on which Friedman played. Upon listening to the record, Mustaine had Friedman come in to audition and hired him. [9] This would become the band's first stable line-up and, as recognized by fans, the 'classic' Megadeth lineup. [11]

Monsters of Rock Former heavy metal music festival

Monsters of Rock was an annual hard rock and heavy metal music festival held in Castle Donington, England from 1980 to 1996, taking place every year except 1989 and 1993. It later branched into other locations such as the Netherlands, Spain, Italy, Germany, France, Sweden, Argentina, Brazil, the United States and the former Soviet Union.

Donington Park race track

Donington Park is a motorsport circuit located near Castle Donington in Leicestershire, England. The circuit business is now owned by Jonathan Palmer's MotorSport Vision organisation, and the surrounding Donington Park Estate, still owned by the Wheatcroft family, is currently under lease by MotorSport Vision until 2038.

Iron Maiden English heavy metal band

Iron Maiden are an English heavy metal band formed in Leyton, East London, in 1975 by bassist and primary songwriter Steve Harris. The band's discography has grown to thirty-nine albums, including sixteen studio albums, twelve live albums, four EPs, and seven compilations.

The title "Rust in Peace" was inspired by a bumper sticker that Mustaine saw on the back of a vehicle while driving home from Lake Elsinore, California. The sticker read: 'May all your nuclear weapons rust in peace'. Mustaine liked the concept and decided to use it as a title for Megadeth's upcoming album. [12] Rust in Peace was recorded in Rumbo Studios with producer Mike Clink, while the mixing was handled by Max Norman. [13] Clink was brought in for his work on both Guns N' Roses' Appetite for Destruction and UFO's Strangers in the Night . [14] The producer's work dealt mostly with the bass, drums and Friedman's guitar. [15] In a 2002 interview, Mustaine declared that they "really didn’t make the record with [Clink]" as at the time he was focused on Guns N' Roses' Use Your Illusion I and II — which were also being recorded at Rumbo — and stated most of the work in the album was done by himself, Norman, and engineer Micajah Ryan. [16]

Lake Elsinore, California City in California, United States

Lake Elsinore is a city in western Riverside County, California, United States. Established as a city in 1888, it is on the shore of Lake Elsinore, a natural freshwater lake about 3,000 acres (1,200 ha) in size. The city has grown from a small resort town in the late 19th and early 20th centuries to a population of well above 60,000 as of 2017.

Mike Clink is an American record producer. Clink began his career as an engineer at Record Plant Studios, recording such bands as Whitesnake, Triumph, Guns N' Roses, Mötley Crüe, Megadeth, UFO, Jefferson Starship, The Babys, Heart, Eddie Money and many others.

Max Norman is a record producer and recording engineer active from 1973 through to present. He produced many acclaimed heavy metal releases. While Norman was resident engineer at Ridge Farm Studios in London, England, Ozzy Osbourne was recording his debut solo album Blizzard of Ozz with producer/engineer Chris Tsangarides, after Osbourne and Tsangarides parted ways Norman was asked to carry on.

The album artwork was created by artist Ed Repka, [13] who previously had done the cover for Peace Sells... but Who's Buying? in 1986. [17] It references "Hangar 18", and depicts band mascot Vic Rattlehead and world leaders of the era viewing an alien body. The depicted world leaders, left to right, are British Prime Minister John Major (although the identity is disputed), Japanese Prime Minister Toshiki Kaifu, West German President (and later President of a reunified Germany) Richard von Weizsäcker, Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, and U.S. President George H.W. Bush. [18] In addition to creating the album's cover, Repka also supplied artwork for the album's two singles. [19]

Edward J. Repka is an American artist, best known for creating album covers for metal bands as well as shirt designs, including those featuring Megadeth's mascot Vic Rattlehead. Repka's portfolio also includes Dark Angel's logo and model designs for the Hellraiser films. He works for the National Entertainment Collectibles Association as their lead painter and head of art direction.

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.


Rust in Peace features songs with multiple sections, shifting time signatures and intricate guitar performance, and is sometimes described as having a progressive style. [20] Additionally, the album features multiple lyrical themes: religion, [21] politics and warfare, as well as Mustaine's personal issues, such as his fight against drug and alcohol addiction, [22] UFO conspiracy theories [23] and even the Marvel Comics character Punisher. [24]

UFO conspiracy theories argue that various governments, and politicians globally, most especially the officials of Washington, D.C., are suppressing evidence of extraterrestrial unidentified flying objects and alien visitors. Such conspiracy theories commonly argue that Earth governments, especially the Government of the United States, are in communication or cooperation with extraterrestrials despite public claims to the contrary, and further that some of these theories claim that the governments are explicitly allowing alien abduction.

Marvel Comics Company that publishes comic books and related media

Marvel Comics is the brand name and primary imprint of Marvel Worldwide Inc., formerly Marvel Publishing, Inc. and Marvel Comics Group, a publisher of American comic books and related media. In 2009, The Walt Disney Company acquired Marvel Entertainment, Marvel Worldwide's parent company.

Punisher Comic book antihero

The Punisher is a fictional character appearing in American comic books published by Marvel Comics. The character was created by writer Gerry Conway and artists John Romita Sr. and Ross Andru. The Punisher made his first appearance in The Amazing Spider-Man #129.

The opening song, "Holy Wars... The Punishment Due" finds its thematic inspiration derived from the Northern Ireland conflict, in which the largely Catholic nationalist community were in conflict with the mainly Protestant loyalist community over the sovereignty of the six counties of Northern Ireland. Mustaine has said that at a show in Antrim, Northern Ireland, he discovered bootlegged Megadeth T-shirts were on sale. He was dissuaded from taking action to have them removed on the basis that they were part of fund raising activities for "The Cause", [25] explained as something to bring equality to Catholics and Protestants in the region. Liking how "The Cause" sounded as was explained to him, Mustaine dedicated a performance of "Anarchy in the U.K." to it, causing the audience to riot. [26] The band were forced to travel in a bulletproof bus after the show. [16] [27] This incident, along with Marvel's Punisher, inspired Mustaine to write the song. [24]

"Rust in Peace... Polaris", addresses the topic of nuclear warfare, [28] with "Polaris" referring to the Cold War-era Lockheed UGM-27 Polaris intercontinental ballistic missile. [29] Mustaine has revealed that the song, originally titled "Child Saint", was one of his earlier compositions, having been written before his tenure with Metallica (1982–83). [16] Menza proposed the concept for "Hangar 18", a song about UFO conspiracies and Area 51. [23] Musically, the song features twin guitar solos after the verse. [30]

Release and reception

Professional ratings
Review scores
AllMusic Star full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar half.svg [20]
Chicago Tribune Star full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svg [31]
Encyclopedia of Popular Music Star full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar empty.svg [32]
Entertainment Weekly B+ [33]
Record Collector Star full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar empty.svg [34]
Rock Hard9.5/10 [35]
Rolling Stone Star full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar empty.svg [36]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide Star full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar half.svgStar empty.svg [37]
Sputnikmusic 5/5 [38]

Rust in Peace was released on September 24, 1990, and debuted at number 23 on the Billboard 200, becoming Megadeth's highest charting album up to that point. [39] In 1994, the album was certified platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) for shipping one million copies in the United States. [40] Rust in Peace, along with the rest of Megadeth's Capitol-released studio albums, was remixed and remastered in 2004. Four bonus tracks were added: a previously unreleased song entitled "My Creation", and three demos of songs on the album featuring guitarist Chris Poland. [41]

Upon release, the album received widespread critical acclaim. [8] Greg Kot of the Chicago Tribune called it Megadeth's most accomplished album, praising its "instrumental virtuosity, thoughtful lyricism and punkish rage". [31] AllMusic's Steve Huey also named the album "easily Megadeth's strongest musical effort". While noting that the entire record is consistently impressive, Huey picked "Hangar 18" as the "obvious highlight". [20] Jason Birchmeier, reviewing the album's 2004 rerelease for AllMusic, observed that the record was a big step forward for the band. However, he criticized the album for being "too consistent" and noted that many of the songs were "sounding overly similar to one another".

Robert Palmer of Rolling Stone wrote that the album is demonstration of how far the "nasty speed thrash" concept can go without being "formulaic and boring". [36] [41] Reviewing the album for Entertainment Weekly , Jim Farber described the music as "sheer velocity, combined with dexterity" and Mustaine's lyrics as "nihilistic whimsy". [33] Mike Stagno from Sputnikmusic agreed that the songwriting was "top notch" on the album, as well as the fast and technical musicianship. He also spoke highly of Friedman's and Mustaine's guitar performance, calling them "one of the most potent duos in the scene". [38]

Spin reviewer Tom Nordlie praised the album, deeming it a "mature, complex, surprisingly consonant and sparely produced album", and concluded that Rust in Peace "never sleeps". [42] Music journalist Kim Cooper also noted the album's maturity and wrote that Rust in Peace "transcended the hard rock genre and raised the bar to a whole new level". [43] Another positive reaction came from Rock Hard, whose writer Holger Stratmann stated that the record was "pure Megadeth", filled with "razor sharp guitars" and "snotty vocals". [35]

Legacy and influence

In retrospective analysis, Rust in Peace has been cited as having a large impact on its genre. [44] Heavy metal magazine Decibel labeled the album as a "genre-defining work", [45] while Kerrang! wrote that the record "set a new standard for heavy metal in the 90s". [46] IGN named Rust in Peace the fourth most influential heavy metal album of all time, commenting that the album "displays Dave Mustaine's finest writing ever". [47] Additionally, Martin Popoff ranked it eleventh among the best heavy metal albums of all time. [48] In a reader poll organized by MusicRadar in 2010, Rust in Peace was voted as the sixth best metal album ever. The MusicRadar staff explained that the record saw Megadeth moving "into the big league", while staying true to their intricate sound and lyricism. [49] In a list compiled by Chad Bowar of, Rust in Peace was placed as the best heavy metal album of the 1990s and named a "thrash masterpiece". [50] The album was nominated for Best Metal Performance at the 33rd Grammy Awards. [51] The album was also included in the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die. [52]

Dave Mustaine in Moscow during the album's 20th anniversary tour. Mustaine at Moscow.jpg
Dave Mustaine in Moscow during the album's 20th anniversary tour.

The tracks "Holy Wars... The Punishment Due" and "Hangar 18" have become staples of Megadeth's live set, and are fan favorites. [53] In 2010, the band announced a 22-show North American tour to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Rust in Peace. The band performed the entire album at every show. [54] [55] Dates in South and Central America were later added to the tour, due to positive response from fans. [56] In 2010, Shout! Factory released a live recording filmed on the Hollywood Palladium stop of the tour, [57] entitled Rust in Peace Live . It was released on September 7, 2010 in Blu-ray, CD and DVD formats, [58] and debuted at number 161 on the Billboard 200 and number two on the Billboard DVD charts. [39]

Rust in Peace in its entirety was released as purchasable downloadable content in the rhythm game Rock Band , a part of their "Rust in Peace Download Package". [59] It was released a little more than a year after the release of Peace Sells...But Who's Buying? on the game's download store. A cover version of "Holy Wars" by Steve Ouimette was featured in Rock Revolution . [60] "Holy Wars" was also featured in Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock , [61] while "Hangar 18" was featured in Guitar Hero II and as downloadable content for Guitar Hero 5 . [62] [63] Both songs have been described as amongst the most difficult songs in the series' history. [61] "Holy Wars", "Hangar 18" and "Tornado of Souls" were also released as downloadable content for Rocksmith 2014

A sequel to "Hangar 18" titled "Return to Hangar" later featured on Megadeth's ninth studio album, The World Needs a Hero . It concludes the fictional narrative begun in "Hangar 18", where the life forms said to be contained in "Hangar 18" come back to life and kill those inside the building before escaping. [64] Both songs have been played back-to-back live, which can be heard on Rude Awakening and That One Night: Live in Buenos Aires . [65] [66]

Track listing

All songs written and composed by Dave Mustaine, except where noted. [13]

Side one
1."Holy Wars... The Punishment Due"6:36
2."Hangar 18"5:14
3."Take No Prisoners"3:28
4."Five Magics"5:42
Side two
5."Poison Was the Cure"  2:58
6."Lucretia" Mustaine, David Ellefson 3:58
7."Tornado of Souls"Mustaine, Ellefson 5:22
8."Dawn Patrol" Ellefson1:50
9."Rust in Peace... Polaris" (5:44 on reissue)  5:36
Total length:40:44


Credits are adapted from the album's liner notes. [9] [13]



  • Edward J. Repka – cover illustration and artwork
  • Dave Mustaine – cover concept
  • Gene Kirkland – photography
  • Wendi Schaeffer – assistant photography


  • Produced by Dave Mustaine and Mike Clink
  • Recording and engineering by Micajah Ryan and Mike Clink
  • Assistant recording engineering by Andy Udoff
  • Mixed by Max Norman
  • Technician – Tom Mayhue


  • Ron Laffitte – Management for Lippman Kahane, Ent.
  • Errol Gerson & Co., Inc – Business management
  • Andy Somers – Worldwide Booking agent for Triad Artists, Inc
  • John Jackson – European Booking agent for Fair Warning Agency. Ltd
  • Leonard Korobkin, Esq. – Legal
  • Brockum – Merchandise

2004 remix and remaster

  • Produced by Dave Mustaine
  • Mixed by Ralph Patlan and Dave Mustaine
  • Engineered by Ralph Patlan with Lance Dean
  • Edited by Lance Dean with Scott "Sarge" Harrison
  • Mastered by Tom Baker
  • Additional demo recording by Chris Poland


Chart (1990)Peak
Australian Albums Chart [67] 47
Canadian Albums Chart [39] 70
Dutch Albums Chart [67] 72
German Albums Chart [67] 21
Japanese Albums Chart [68] 29
New Zealand Albums Chart [67] 35
Swedish Albums Chart [67] 34
Swiss Albums Chart [67] 29
UK Albums Chart [69] 8
US Billboard 200 [39] 23


RegionCertification Certified units/sales
Canada (Music Canada) [70] Platinum100,000^
United Kingdom (BPI) [71] Gold100,000^
United States (RIAA) [40] Platinum1,000,000^

*sales figures based on certification alone
^shipments figures based on certification alone


Canada2004Martin PopoffTop 500 Heavy Metal Albums of all Time [48] 11
United Kingdom1990 Kerrang! Albums of the Year [32] 11
1990 Select Albums of the Year [32] 46
2000 Terrorizer The 100 Most Important Albums of the 90s [32] *
2006 Classic Rock & Metal Hammer The 200 Greatest Albums of the 90s [32] *
2010 MusicRadar The 50 Greatest Heavy Metal Albums Of All Time [49] 6
2014 Metal Hammer 50 Hottest Thrash Albums of All Time [32] 3
United States2002 Revolver The 69 Greatest Metal Albums of All Time [32] 54
2006Robert Dimery 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die [32] *
2007 IGN Top 25 Metal Albums [47] 4
2012About.comBest Heavy Metal Albums Of 1990 [72] 1
2012Best Heavy Metal Albums Of The 1990s [50] 1
2017 Rolling Stone 100 Greatest Metal Albums of All Time [73] 19


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