Friday, November 28, 2008

"Black Friday"

"Black Friday" is usually associated with shopping and/or Steely Dan, but it's also a thoroughly spectacular song by Megadeth.

Megadeth, "Good Mourning/Black Friday"

Peace Sells...But Who's Buying? is often simplified as the record where Megadeth ditched their obsessions with the occult, Satan, comic books and violence in favor of politics and realism. While it was the breakthrough of guitarist/songwriter Dave Mustaine's thrilling battle with current affairs and his own personal demons, songs like "The Conjuring," "Good Mourning/Black Friday" and an excellent Howlin' Wolf cover ("I Ain't Superstitious") enjoy the classic metal themes. All on the fine line between campy and scary.

Preceding Dimmu Borgir, Machine Head, Portishead and a quip on Dr. Katz with the "Good Mourning" pun, Mustaine serves us the album's sole pretty moment, a dual guitar intro that breaks into Mustaine's bizarre/goofy spoken word. While his range and tone are often mocked, I think it's pretty cool that he was the first metal god to talk/scream the horrors he depicted. Sort of like a headbanging Tom Waits.

The song slips into a jazz-like composition, with a speed and structure that was pivotal in establishing death metal and math metal. Uninhibited leads are hunted down by an authoritative rhythm section that pushes each player to their technical and creative limit. One can imagine Kerry King, Chuck Schuldiner and Ben Weinman all clasping their headphones closer to their ears when this song came on.

The lyrics are fantastic. A sadistic murderer who lands closer to Tobe Hooper than Alice Cooper gets a first-person narration, punctuated by a torrent of technical stunts and progression switch-ups. All of which build into to a mind-bending solo (courtesy of Chris Poland) and a climactic final chant (courtesy of the band.)

Perhaps the song's greatest endorsement comes from Mustaine. Now a born again Christian (who still writes good music,) Dave has expressed reservations about performing "Black Friday" in concert. "You know, I mean, I am sure if I wanted to I could do 'Black Friday' or 'The Conjuring,' because they don't really mean anything anymore," he once told a reporter. "'Black Friday,' you know, it's just gratuitous violence which, that's cool to a point, but there's so many death metal fans that do it better than I did."

"Good Mourning/Black Friday" could be considered Mustaine's exorcism, a release of demons that he can't bring himself to revisit. All the more reason for the rest of us to enjoy it.

Megadeth, "Good Mourning/Black Friday" (live)

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