I’ve sung the praises of Nick Menza on this website before. He’s an easy guy to overlook in talking about the classic era of Megadeth – the shadows of Dave Mustaine, Marty Friedman, and Dave Ellefson loom large – but he rules. Although he might not be “the best” drummer when you consider the company he’s in (Benante, Lombardo, etc), he is unquestionably my favorite, and I think he is an underrated part of Megadeth’s sound during some of their creative peaks, including Rust in Peace, which is their best album and one of the best of the era.
The main reason: space. And in particular, the ever-slightly behind-the-beat groove that he brought to the mid-paced parts. Menza has an incredible rhythmic sense that prioritizes space and groove over precision (although he has that too). His style worked surprisingly well with Mustaine’s razor-sharp compositions, and actually brought many of those mid-period Megadeth songs to life in ways that they might not’ve – in particular songs like “Holy Wars,” “Rust in Peace” and “Hangar 18.”
Menza brought that sense of space to older Megadeth cuts too. Check out what I’m talking about below, on his fresh playthrough for the track “Devil’s Island” off Peace Sells… But Who’s Buying? below:
I’m stoked to hear what Chris Adler comes up with on Megadeth’s new album, but I am sad that the reunion of Menza and ‘Deth never came to be. His playing with that band was special.