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 Review archive:  # a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z

Kings of Thrash - Best of the West…live at the Whisky A Go-Go – The [Cleopatra Records - 2023]

Since being fired from Megadeth in May 2021, Dave Ellefson has been a busy man. In 2021 he formed the band Lucid with Mike Heller (Fear Factory), Drew Fortier (Bang Tango) and Vinnie Drombski (Sponge). The following year in 2022 he formed the death metal band, Dieth with Guilherme Miranda on guitar and vocals and Michał Łysejko on drums, as well as putting together Kings of Thrash with former Megadeth bandmate Jeff Young. The band undertook a tour of the US with another former Megadeth guitarist, Chris Poland, swelling their ranks alongside drummer Fred Aching (Power-Flo and Bullet Boys) and vocalist/ guitarist, Chaz Leon (formerly of Absolution). 

On October 15th 2022 the band performed a set comprised of tracks from the first three Megadeth albums at the Whisky A Go-Go in Los Angeles. The result of this performance is this double CD/ DVD set from Cleopatra Records. 

First up, this set is comprised of many of my favourite Megadeth tunes from those early years including some tracks that have been largely ignored by Mustaine for a number of years, songs like 502, Liar, Devil’s Island, Hook in Mouth and The Skull Beneath the Skin sit alongside eternal classics like Wake up Dead, Peace Sells and Rattlehead and provide a brilliant overview of that era in Megadeth’s history. 

Onto the performances, the triple guitar assault of Poland, Young and Leon is excellent (sadly Poland only performs on some tracks) but his and Young’s powers remain undiminished. Mustaine could always pick a lead guitar player and these two were among the best, whilst relative newcomer, Leon is no slouch himself. He acquits himself well as both a lead and rhythm guitarist. Ellefson himself performs the songs as well as he ever did and seems to be having a blast playing these classics while drummer Aching performs accordingly. Ironically, my one gripe is with the vocals, whilst Chaz Leon may perform these songs better than Dave Mustaine does these days, his delivery lacks the piss and venom of prime 80s era Dave Mustaine, and he seems to struggle to hit some of the notes. To be fair to him, it seems to take him a few songs to settle into his groove and he is much better after that. That aside, the overall performance of the band is excellent, and the set is littered with some of Megadeth’s finest music from my favourite albums. The band are tight and they’re clearly having fun with the songs, and the audience are very appreciative of their efforts. 

This new release from Cleopatra is a rather lovely chunky set, featuring the full 17-track performance on 2 CDs and a single DVD disc. The set is well packaged in a rather fetching fold-out digipak sleeve with full track listings for both the CDs and the DVD. Old thrashers like myself, who remember these records the first time around, will find plenty here to enjoy, and newer Megadeth fans who are perhaps less well-versed in the older material should also find plenty to enjoy here. Whichever way you look at it, it’s a very enjoyable set from a band that are really enjoying what they do and that is an infectious feeling.

Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5

Darren Charles
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