Being kicked out of Metallica was the best thing that ever happened to Dave Mustaine. It wasn't long before he had his own band up and running - and the red-haired guitarist proved he could thrash with the best of `em. From 1983-2002, the band gave audiences two decades of the finest heavy metal on the face of the planet. Needless to say, they're a group that has no shortage of hits compilations.
Set The World Afire is, to my knowledge, the third Megadeth hits compilation (the others were Capitol Punishment and Back to the Start.) This compilation covers material ranging from 1985-2000.
So how does Set The World Afire hold up in comparison to the earlier Megadeth compilations? Considerably better considering it's two discs. The compilation unites a ton of key album cuts with plenty of non-album ones (soundtrack songs, for example.) There are a few gaping omissions that drag it down, though, and keep it from getting a perfect score.
Killing is My Business... And Business is Good! (1985)
Tracks Featured: Rattlehead, Mechanix
Comments: I'm pleased to see this compilation didn't give the band's first album the shaft. We get two great tracks from this classic thrash debut, though The Skull Beneath The Skin and Last Rites/Loved To Death are disappointingly omitted. Still, I'm grateful anything from this album got included at all.
Peace Sells... But Who's Buying? (1986)
Tracks Featured: Wake Up Dead, Peace Sells, Devil's Island
Comments: Great sophomore album, three great tracks. Very pleased to see the underrated gem Devil's Island make the cut. My only complaint is the omission of Good Mourning/Black Friday.
So Far, So Good... So What! (1988)
Tracks Featured: Anarchy in the U.K., In My Darkest Hour, Set The World Afire, Into the Lungs of Hell
Comments: In My Darkest Hour and the band's cover of the Sex Pistols classic Anarchy in the UK are Megadeth classics that belong on any of the band's compilations. The other two entries are not the best from the album, though. Would much rather have seen Mary Jane and Hook in Mouth.
Rust in Peace (1990)
Tracks Featured: Hangar 18, Holy Wars... The Punishment Due, Tornado Of Souls, Take No Prisoners
Comments: Four AWESOME Megadeth songs, you can't have a "best of Megadeth" package without Hanger 18 and Holy Wars! No big complaints here, though I wish the title track had made the cut as well.
Countdown to Extinction (1992)
Tracks Featured: Sweating Bullets, Skin O' My Teeth, Ashes In Your Mouth, Foreclosure of a Dream
Comments: Great album, too many great songs missing. Where are This Was My Life and the title track? Symphony of Destruction, one of the band's biggest hits (if not THE biggest) is missing as well, though it IS represented in the form of an inferior live rendition (more on that later.)
Tracks Featured: Train of Consequences, Reckoning Day, A Tout Le Monde, The Killing Road
Comments: Probably the one album where I have no complaints about the tracks selected. These are all Megadeth fan favorites, worthy of their reputation. I won't nitpick the selections here, because this whole album was good, and naturally, we can't put every cut from it on here.
Cryptic Writings (1997)
Tracks Featured: Trust, She-Wolf
Comments: How can you make a Megadeth compilation and not include Almost Honest, I'll Get Even, and Use The Man?
Tracks Featured: Insomnia, Prince of Darkness
Comments: A Megadeth compilation without Crush `Em and Breadline? You've got to be kidding. Would also have liked to see Ecstasy, my favorite cut on the album, and the "Time" tracks from its conclusion as well.
The World Needs a Hero (2001)
Tracks Featured: None
Comments: The lack of tracks from this album is probably a legal issue, due to its being released on a different label. A shame, as this album was the perfect coda to a long and excellent career by the band (note that Dread and the Fugitive Mind actually DOES appear here, but I'm not including it in this paragraph since it originated on the Capitol Punishment compilation.
Non-Album Tracks (Various Years)
Tracks Featured: Crown of Worms (Demo), High Speed Dirt (Demo), New World Order (Demo), Symphony of Destruction (Live 1992), Peace Sells (Live 1992), Kill the King (Bonus track on Capitol Punishment compilation), Dread and the Fugitive Mind (Bonus track on Capitol Punishment), Go to Hell (Bill and Ted's Bogus Journey soundtrack), Breakpoint (Super Mario Bros. Movie soundtrack), Angry Again (Last Action Hero soundtrack)
Comments: A nice assortment of non-album tracks, though I don't approve of demos and live versions of tracks being used in lieu of their actual studio album counterparts. As far as the non-album cuts go, some disappointing omissions include the band's cover of Alice Cooper's No More Mr. Nice Guy, the cover of the Sex Pistols' Problems, and the Black Sabbath covers Paranoid and Never Say Die. There are a lot of underrated non-album tracks but I'll keep it short.
Nothing is included from The System Has Failed or United Abominations. As those don't include David Ellefson, they're technically just Dave Mustaine solo albums released under the Megadeth name, and their tracks were rightfully excluded (though I won't deny that there are some great cuts on those releases.)
If you're getting into Megadeth and don't want to lay down the cash for all of their albums, Set The World Afire is the way to go. Despite its problems, the compilation does a good job representing the band. Strongly recommended for any new fan that wants to begin experiencing the musical genius of Dave Mustaine.