Dave Mustaine Shares Opinion on Kirk Hammett Playing His Guitar Solos in Metallica: ‘That Couldn’t Have Been Easy’

According to Megadeth frontman and leader Dave Mustaine, Kirk Hammett “did him an honor” when playing early Metallica solos that he initially wrote. In a recent interview for Guitar World, Mustaine looked back on the early 1980s when he was fired from Metallica and eventually replaced by then-Exodus guitarist Kirk Hammett.

During the chat, Mustaine was first asked whether he heard Metallica’s 11th album “72 Seasons.” He replied:

“No, I have not heard Metallica’s latest record. But there was a time around 20 years ago when we were not being friendly toward each other when I couldn’t listen to their music when it came on the radio.

Metallica: If Darkness Had a Son - The Amsterdam Sessions (Amazon Music Presents)

“But none of that bothers me anymore, and it’s not why I haven’t heard the record, especially after the Big Four thing that we did. I really think we should do that again.”

Further on, Mustaine was asked to weigh in on how he feels that Megadeth and Metallica currently “stack up against” each other. He said:

“It’s probably not ideal for people to ask if they stack up against what Megadeth is doing. I really do liken Megadeth and Metallica to comparing the Ramones and The Clash. I actually remember one of the guitar magazines said that long ago, and it made sense to me.

“So, I’ve always thought that idea is a cool thing. So, it’s fun to make comparisons, and I think they stack up just fine against us. We’re different in some ways, but we still share many of the same fans.”

Metallica with Dave Mustaine - Live In San Francisco 1983 [Full Concert] /mG

One of the things that occupied the online, and offline, discussions among metal fans was the critique Kirk Hammett got for his lead parts on Metallica’s new album. Sure, Mustaine admits that he didn’t hear it but he was still asked to share his opinion on “whether the recent flak that Kirk has taken for his solos is fair.” He then replied:

“It depends on which solos you’re talking about [laughs]. Jokes aside, I’ve always kind of poked fun at Kirk. And unfairly so, as he never did anything to me.

“Whenever I felt singled out, picked on, or antagonized by James [Hetfield] or Lars [Ulrich], it was really easy to pick on Kirk.

Metallica Live At The Metro 1983 (HD) (Full Concert) 720P HQ

He then added:

“But the truth is Kirk did me an honor by trying to play my solos on those early songs the way he did.”

When asked to further elaborate on this, Mustaine said:

“Well, I think that some people would have just started over again. So, I thought it was honorable that Kirk took my solos and did his best to play them as I did. That couldn’t have been easy.

Megadeth - We’ll Be Back: Chapter I

“But as far as his new solos on the new Metallica album, I haven’t heard them, so I can’t comment. But I will say that I think it’s sad how quickly some people can turn on people.

Nonetheless, Dave still holds Kirk in high regard as a guitar player:

“There was a time when Kirk won every guitar contest in the world, and I don’t think he’s gotten any better or worse as a player.

“He’s always been really good. Kirk was a good player when he was in Exodus. And he’s been steady the entire time he’s been in Metallica. But does that mean Kirk Hammett is Dave Mustaine? No. And is Dave Mustaine Kirk Hammett? Also, no.”

Megadeth - Killing Time: Chapter V

Earlier this year, Kirk Hammett himself addressed some of the criticism that he got for his lead guitar parts in Metallica’s new album “72 Seasons.” When asked on the matter, Hammett replied:

“Yeah, my fucking friends down the street could probably play a better solo than ‘Lux Æterna’ – but what’s the point. For me, what’s appropriate is playing for the song and playing in the moment.”

He also added:

“I was just laughing the whole time. I could string together like six or seven three-octave arpeggios in 16th notes, sit there every day and practice it and go, ‘Hey, look what I can do!’ but where am I gonna put it? That won’t work in any Metallica song!“

Metallica: Lux Æterna (Official Music Video)

“Arpeggios? Come on! In a guitar solo, mapped out like a lot of people do, four or five chords with a different arpeggio over each one? It sounds like an exercise. I don’t want to listen to exercises and warm-ups every time I hear a song.” 

“The only guys out there who I think convincingly play arpeggios as a means of expression are Joe Satriani, Yngwie [Malmsteen], and Paul Gilbert.”

“Sweeping to me is a weird thing to begin with because sweeping’s incredibly easy but it sounds incredibly hard. That’s cool once or twice, but I mean, why do it? When it first came out in the late ’70s, by the early ’80s everyone was doing it. By not doing it, you stood out.”

Metallica: 72 Seasons (Official Music Video)

“I know my modes, Hungarian scales, symmetrical scales, I know all that shit. Is it appropriate? Maybe earlier in our time, but not now,” he says. “What’s more appropriate is coming up with melodies that are more like vocal melodies. And guess what? The best scale for mimicking vocal melodies is the pentatonic.”

 “It’s actually harder to say stuff with pentatonics because you don’t have that many notes. It’s easier to play modal. I will challenge anyone on that.”

“I love from the heart playing, and I’ve heard real technical playing that’s from the heart. Allan Holdsworth, Eddie Van Halen, Joe Satriani, Yngwie – they all play from the heart, but for a lot of guys it’s just like sports or the Olympics.“

Metallica: If Darkness Had a Son (Official Music Video)

“Music is to reflect beauty, creativity, feeling, life. There is a place and there’s an audience for all that stuff, but I feel there comes a time when people just get tired of that.“

“Today, you know, people are doing really interesting stuff with technique. Technique is reaching new boundaries and I love that, but I have to stress it’s important to play for the song. If you do that, your music will have that much more integrity and lasting power.”

Photos: Selbymay (HF2022Megadeth 4), Carlos Rodríguez/Andes (Kirk Hammett 2016)


  • David Slavkovic

    David always planned for music to be nothing more than a hobby. However, after a short career as an agricultural engineer he ended up news editor at KillerGuitarRigs, senior editor at Ultimate-Guitar.com, as well as a freelance contributor to online magazines such as GuitaristNextdoor.