And while we're arguably nearing the 20-year mark since Megadeth last put out an album that truly demonstrated the band's powerhouse skills (1990's monumental thrash classic Rust in Piece), it's a thrill to see Mustaine playing at all since a 2002 arm injury had doctors telling him his career was effectively over. Backed by a completely overhauled lineup that sounds appropriately sleek, speedy and hungry on the pre-1990 material, Mustaine gets to demonstrate yet again why he is one of the genre's pre-eminent rhythm guitarists.
As much as one might appreciate Megadeth, however, it's the rest of the lineup that delivers the thrills — particularly on the front end. In the middle of the lineup, the keyboard-heavy approach of Sweden's In Flames and Finland's Children of Bodom, who play second-to-last and third, respectively, make the perfect bridge between Megadeth and the more edgy, underground sounds of High on Fire and locals Job for a Cowboy. The only truly extreme band on the bill, Job for a Cowboy gets to close out the tour with a homecoming.
Be sure to get there early, however, as openers High on Fire take the day's crown for most intensity, despite their mid-tempo leanings. No exaggeration: HOF is probably the world's only band that sits poised to inherit the torch Motörhead's been carrying for the last three decades. No one else has delivered such a satisfying, groovy thrum and done it with so much originality, passion, and purity. Like Motörhead, HOF has an innate knack for boogie/white-trash rhythms, even as they drench them in thrashing riffs and a menacing stoner/doom feel.