Selected by Dan Grunebaum

Happy satanic flamenco

High priests of thrash metal Megadeth are due in for their annual Japan tour in July. And from the sounds of it, bandleader Dave Mustaine and Co are in peak form on their just-released album, The World Needs A Hero.

Their first recording for their new Sanctuary label, The World Needs A Hero marks a return to Megadeth' bare-bones formula after experimenting with melodicism on 1999's Risk. "This record was written in spite of all the people who tried to turn us into an alternative pop machine," said Mustaine in a recent press release. "Basically, no one was welcome into the studio, and if they did get in we tried not to let them influence us. Feed us, sure, but anything else forget about it!"

Formed in San Francisco in 1984 after Mustaine left Metallica, Megadeth debuted in 1985 with Killing Is My Business...And Business is Good! Mustaine's political outspokenness and heavy-duty riffing - the essential elements to Megadeth's success - were already in evidence, but did not reach peak form until the singer-songwriter recruited guitar wizard Marty Friedman for 1990's Rust In Peace. Countdown To Extinction, dealing with the theme of impending ecological disaster, followed soon thereafter, marking the band's commercial apex with the UK Top 20 singles "Skin O' My Teeth" and "Symphony Of Destruction."

Despite lingering reports of Mustaine suffering from drug problems, Megadeth remained at the forefront of metal throughout the '90s, hewing along with Slayer to a more orthodox approach and leaving the flirtations with grunge and alternative to Metallica.

But this spring, Megadeth surprised fans by mounting a 12-city acoustic promotional tour to launch The World Needs A Hero. "Most people are dumfounded with the idea of Megadeth going acoustic," Mustaine told Wall of Sound. "It's like satanic flamenco - happy satanic flamenco."

Mustaine explained that Megadeth began experimenting with live acoustic sets in Japan, when it test-ran an acoustic version of "Use the Man" from its 1997 release Cryptic Writings.

"It's really hard to play acoustic," said Mustaine. "Acoustic is harder to play than electric, really; you can hide behind the distortion when you're playing electric."

Megadeth play Akasaka Blitz on July 19 and 20, and Yokohama Bay Hall on July 21. See listings for details.

Concert Listings
394: Regurgitator
393: Art Garfunkel


392: Belle and Sebastian
391: Super Furry Animals
390: Ben Folds
389: Elton John
388: Dido
387: Papa Roach
386: Beast Feast 2001
385: Summersonic
384: David Sylvian
383: Maxi Priest & Big Mountain
382: Fuji Rock Festival 01
381: Roxy Music
380: Bo Diddley
379: John McLaughlin & Zakir Hussain in Remember Shakti
378: Paul Weller
377: Coolio
376: Backyard Babies
375: Marcus Miller
374: Black Crowes
373: Megadeath
372: Dionne Warwick
371: Arrested Development
370: Mouse on Mars
369: Duran Duran
368: Linkin Park
367: Maceo Parker
366: Japan Blues Carnival 2001
365: Ben Harper
364: Cheap Trick
363: Stephen Malkmus
362: Mogwai
361: Weezer
360: Marilyn Manson
359: Green Day
358: AC/DC
357: Richard Thompson
356: Bob Dylan
355: J. Mascis
354: Leigh Stephen Kenny
352/3: Limp Bizkit
351: Boyz II Men
350: Reef
349: Park Tower Blues Festival
348: Roni Size
347: Compay Segundo
346: Incognito
345: Jimmy Page and The Black Crowes
344: Bad Religion
343: Japan Soul Festival 2000
342: Rocktober 2000
341: Richard Ashcroft
340: Motorhead
339: Festival Halou
338: Ricky Martin
337: Taj Mahal
336: Asian Dub Foundation
335: Lou Reed
334: Earth, Wind & Fire
333: Sting
332: No Doubt
331: Camel
330: Fuji Rock: Smash Talks
329: Summer Sonic
328: Mt. Fuju Aid 2000
327: Salif Keita
326: Buena Vista Social Club
325: Bill Frisell
324: Maxi Priest
323: Lenine
322: Rage Against the Machine
321: Tommy Flanagan Trio
320: Smashing Pumpkins
319: Pet Shop Boys
318: Japan Blues Carnival
317: Gipsy Kings
316: Steely Dan
315: Pshish
314: Big Night Out
313: Femi Kuti and the Positive Force
312: Harry Connick Jr.
311: Sonny Rollins
310: Speech
309: Santana