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. A pioneer of the American thrash metal scene, Megadeth is credited as one of the genre’s “big four,” along with Metallica, Anthrax, and Slayer, responsible for thrash metal’s development and popularization. Megadeth plays in a technical style, featuring complex arrangements and fast rhythm sections. Themes of death, war, politics, and religion are prominent in the song lyrics.
In 1985, the band released its debut album, Killing Is My Business… and Business Is Good!, on the independent label Combat Records. The album’s moderate commercial success caught the attention of bigger labels, which led to Megadeth signing with Capitol Records. Their first major-label album, Peace Sells… but Who’s Buying?, was released in 1986 and influenced the underground metal scene. Despite its prominence in thrash metal, frequent disputes between its members and substance abuse issues brought Megadeth negative publicity during this period.
After the lineup stabilized, the band released a number of platinum-selling albums, including Rust in Peace (1990) and Countdown to Extinction (1992). These albums, along with touring worldwide, helped bring public recognition to Megadeth. The band temporarily disbanded in 2002 when Mustaine suffered an arm injury and re-established in 2004 without bassist Ellefson, who had taken legal action against Mustaine. Ellefson settled with Mustaine out of court and rejoined the group in 2010. Megadeth has hosted its own music festival, Gigantour, several times since July 2005.
Megadeth has sold over 38 million records worldwide, earned platinum certification in the United States for five of its fifteen studio albums, and received twelve Grammy nominations. Megadeth won its first Grammy Award in 2017 for the song “Dystopia” in the Best Metal Performance category. The band’s mascot, Vic Rattlehead, regularly appears on album artwork and, since 2010, in live shows. The group has experienced controversy over its musical approach and lyrics, including album bans and canceled concerts. MTV has refused to play two of the band’s videos that the network considered to condone suicide.