Yeah, that’s right. You heard. Megadeth are better than Metallica. Always have been, always will be. It’s not a matter of opinion. It’s a fact. A big, shiny, copper-plated fact that I’m about to shove right up the arse of your consciousness, while shrieking the chorus from Train Of Consequences through my nose. I might even dye my hair ginger to emphasise the point. Yeah, that’s right. Megadeth are better than Metallica. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!! Just read it and shut up, you idiot.
- CLASSIC ALBUMS
Let’s do this using the powers of maths. Ignoring live albums and compilations (which I’ll get back to later on), Metallica have released a grand total of nine studio albums. The first four are, I think we can all agree, absolutely fucking awesome. Anyone who wants to argue the toss about that little nugget of truth can quietly leave the room with the sound of shame and hatred ringing in their ears of cloth. Die. We don’t need you. It gets a little bit trickier when we reach Metallica, the Black Album, but since it’s mainly really good and has Enter Sandman on it, I’ll happily ignore the fact that it was overproduced and nowhere near as good as the first four albums and accept that it’s a classic. So far, so awesome. What’s next? Load. Fucking rubbish. Reload. Also fucking rubbish. There are a handful of good songs in there somewhere, of course, but overall we’re talking a pair of crippled turkeys with cancerous beaks. So that leaves us with
Okay, so let’s have a little look at the Megadeth back catalogue. Again, they got off to a pretty heroic start. Killing Is My Business, Peace Sells, So Far So Good, Rust In Peace…every single one, a stone-cold classic. In fact, Killing Is My Business is easily the best of the debuts made by thrash metal’s Big Four. I love Kill ‘Em All more than I love most of my family, but it’s a lot less groundbreaking and only really hinted at what Metallica were capable of. The same goes for Fistful Of Metal and Show No Mercy. Killing Is My Business, on the other hand, ripped my pre-teen face off and used it as chamois leather on Mustaine’s offal-splattered muscle car (I may have imagined that last bit). After Rust In Peace, of course, Megadeth made Countdown To Extinction. I realise that there will be lots of people who think that Countdown was “too commercial” and “not thrash” and “lots of other stuff that only morons ever mention”. All these people are fools and should be killed. Meanwhile, Countdown To Extinction is a masterpiece. Agreed? Good. So, moving on to slightly more contentious records, what about Youthanasia? I didn’t like it that much at the time, but now I love it. Even so, it’s not quite on a par with the first five Megadeth records, so because I’m being fair (and because I know what happens at the end) I’ll discount it as a true classic. Cryptic Writings? Well, I really like it…perhaps a bit more than I should…and it has got Trust on it…but…but…no, you’re right. Not a classic. Risk? Fuck off. The World Needs A Hero? When did you last listen to it? The case rests. The System Has Failed? A false dawn, if you ask me. It sounded like a super-gnarly Megadeth album and had some amazing riffs and solos on it, but ultimately the songs just weren’t there. So that leaves United Abominations. I gave it 9/10 in Metal Hammer and I stand by that score. It’s a superb record; the perfect blend of Countdown-style shiny crunch and Youthanasia-style songy-songsville behaviour. It even has some proper, balls-out thrash bits, and Mustaine’s voice has never sounded better. So there you have it…even before I tell you that Endgame is the best Megadeth album since (at the very least) Countdown To Extinction, we’ve already reached the not-entirely-surprising conclusion that Megadeth have released SIX classic studio albums. That’s a win, bitches. A big, fat ginger win.
And don’t get me started on S&M and Garage Inc. Yeah, lots of fun for all the family, but they were a rich band’s indulgences during a fallow creative period. Great for the can’t-see-past-the-logo obsessive fans, but not all that amazing in the cold light of day. A day, incidentally, that has already revealed that Megadeth made more classic albums. Did you miss that bit? Never mind. Take it as read.
Dave Mustaine is a better guitarist than either James Hetfield or Kirk Hammett. He can do everything that either of them can do, but better. Can you imagine Kirk Hammett playing the main riff from Tornado Of Souls? He’d break his fingers and choke on his drugs. And don’t think for a minute that I’m only considering Mustaine’s skills in this watertight argument of mine. Oh no. Looking back through the history of Megadeth, it’s pretty obvious that every last significant member of the band has been a stone-cold face-ripper with chops the size of
Regardless of what people might say when they’re lost in the moment, pissed up on booze and seconds away from windmilling like crazed bitches from
Meanwhile, Mustaine’s lyrics remain as sharp and snotty as ever. I still don’t agree with his politics or his religious views, but the man writes lyrics that (a) suit the music perfectly, (b) make sense out of context, so that when you read them on the CD booklet, you don’t feel sorry for the poor sod that wrote them. On the new album, he sings about dangerous motor sports, political corruption, medieval torture devices and battles from Lord Of The Rings. Dave Mustaine is awesome. James Hetfield is also awesome, but sometimes his lyrics suck.
On the one and only time that Megadeth tried to reinvent themselves, it went horribly wrong. You’ve probably either never heard Risk or, like me, you’ve blanked it from your mind as if it was an unfortunate incident involving genitals and cutlery that occurred during a tentative masturbatory exploration in the distant past. That’s YOU, incidentally. Not me. I’m a good Christian boy. Anyway, the point is that Risk is largely hideous and Megadeth were never supposed to be a poppy band with dance-style remixes and radio-friendly choruses (even though they frequently do the latter perfectly well in a 100% metal context). The great thing is that Mustaine knew that Risk was a mistake and has since acknowledged the fact. The whole reason his band survived at all was that he realised that everything was going tits up and that other people were interfering in his vision of what Megadeth should be. He told everyone else to fuck off, grabbed the reins and has been fully in charge ever since. That’ll explain the increasingly brilliant records and complete lack of reality TV-style documentary films. Metallica, on the other hand, went a bit peculiar after the Black Album made them inordinately rich and famous. Lars and Kirk started hoovering up mountains of cocaine and suddenly decided that they it would be a good idea to start playing country rock tunes, ripping off Corrosion Of Conformity and pretending to be gay. Then they thought it would be awesome to record a live album with an orchestra. Then they thought it would be awesome to make an album with songs written by committee and with no guitar solos. They were wrong about all these things and James Hetfield knew it, but for the most part he was too busy necking vodka and cudgelling bears to death in the woods to do anything about it. Dave Mustaine has had his fair share of problems too, but he never started wearing eyeliner or putting spunk on his album covers.
- ALBUM COVERS
Speaking of which, many of Megadeth’s album covers were created by Ed Repka. He rules. Mustaine doesn’t like him very much anymore, but the point still stands. Even the recent Megadeth album covers are okay. Metallica, it seems almost unnecessary to point out, have only had one decent album cover since …And Justice For All, and that was for an album that sounds like it was recorded inside Bob Rock’s arse and no one will admit to liking it. I don’t know what the new Megadeth album will have on its cover, but I’m willing to bet at least one of my testicles that it will be better than a coffin-cum-fanny combination.
I went to see Metallica for the first time in 1988 at the Hammersmith Odeon, on the …And Justice For All world tour.
Dave Mustaine invented thrash. Fact. All the best songs on Kill ‘Em All were his. Listen to Killing Is My Business and you’ll hear the real birth of thrash/speed metal. Listen to Kill ‘Em All and you’ll hear the bit just before the birth of thrash metal…the bit where heavy metal bands sped up a bit and took more speed to assist with the speeding up thing. It was all Mustaine’s idea. Seriously. That’s why Megadeth are still a thrash metal band. Because that’s what he does. I’m not sure that Metallica are entirely sure what they are these days. Either way, Dave Mustaine invented thrash. Factimundo. Don’t agree? Too bad. Dave Mustaine invented thrash.
There’s nothing wrong with a bit of therapy. I had some once. Sorted me right out. Well, mainly. I still kill stray dogs, but otherwise I’m fine. The thing is, though, that I’m not in a heavy metal band with a huge worldwide fan base. Not entirely sure what went wrong there, to be honest. I feel a bit cheated. Still, fame and fortune has its drawbacks too, doesn’t it? For instance, you might be so incalculably wealthy and dazzled by the bright lights of stardom that you decide that it would be a totally rad idea to film the recording of your new album, including every last bit of excruciatingly personal behind-the-scenes minutiae, and then turn it into a major motion picture! Well, we’ve all done it! Or, rather, we fucking well haven’t. I’ve seen Some Kind Of Monster now. I put it off for about two years because I found the whole idea a bit traumatic, but in the end I sat through the whole thing and found it moderately enjoyable. The problem is that I don’t feel I’ve gained anything as a fan of Metallica by learning that they employed a therapist to help them “work through” their interpersonal problems. After years of touring and being forced to spend time with each other, it makes perfect sense that Metallica might have one or two issues to thrash out behind closed doors but why, in the name of Jesus H. Corbett and all his equally non-existent disciples, would you want to show the whole world? It’s nothing to be ashamed of, the therapy thing, but surely it wouldn’t hurt to maintain a teensy bit of mystique and arcane charm. I already knew that James Hetfield was a tormented soul, that Lars Ulrich was a gobby pain in the arse and that I wouldn’t pick Kirk Hammett for my pub quiz team any time soon, but to have it rammed down my spasm-plagued gullet in such an unapologetic manner just seems a little bit too much.
Now as you probably know, Dave Mustaine is a long way from being blameless in the old drug-munching psycho department. Sacked from Metallica for being a rowdy drunk with poor table manners, he spent the next decade shoving half of
Dave Mustaine still has long hair. So does everyone else in his band. That is all.
Like everyone else, I was a little bit thrilled when I heard Death Magnetic for the first time. Even though I really didn’t mind