This Is What Makes a Great Thrash Metal Song According to Megadeth’s Dave Mustaine

Megadeth frontman Dave Mustaine shared a few simple ingredients for a successful thrash metal song. Starting his career in the early 1980s, Mustaine is one of the originators of the subgenre. However, according to what he said in an interview on the “Saturday Live” show on BBC Radio 4, his recipe for a thrash metal song was inspired by famous producer Quincy Jones who’s well-known for his work with Michael Jackson.

Discussing the matter of what makes a good song, Mustaine said (transcript via Blabbermouth):

“For me, what I’d like to leave for future generations is to know that melody is so critical to songs.”

Megadeth - Holy Wars... The Punishment Due

“Quincy Jones is a very famous producer here in America. We were making the [1990] ‘Rust in Peace’ record at the time and had gone to this party, and Quincy was there. And he had said to our engineer/producer that the key to successful songs was beat, melody, and 10 simple words.”

However, as Dave further explains, there are a few other things to bear in mind when it comes to thrash metal. Sure, the formula isn’t that much different, it’s just some of the specific ingredients that thrash metal fans might be looking for. He added:

“So I guess the most important thing I would like to leave to future generations is to echo what Quincy had said, but to make it my own, I would say in order to be successful in thrash, you need to have a heavy beat, melody and I’d say probably 20 simple words because we sing so much faster.”

Mechanix (Remastered)

The “Rust in Peace” album, released in 1990, stands as one of Megadeth’s most important releases. After all, this record was the first one to feature Marty Friedman who’s often praised as the favorite lead guitar player to ever go through Megadeth’s lineup.

Although the current guitar player Kiko Loureiro has now solidified his place in the band’s history, Mustaine is very open about Marty Friedman being one of the most important people to take part in Megadeth. This is exactly why everyone was so excited about Friedman joining Megadeth during a show in Japan.

In a recent interview, Mustaine reflected on Friedman briefly reuniting with Megadeth, as well as his contributions to the band, and said:

“It did have a lot of those emotions. It did feel like it was the good old days. Also, Marty has made quite a name for himself on his own since then.”

Megadeth, Tornado of Souls, live at Budokan, feat Marty Friedman (2023)

And, according to Dave, Marty is the only one of the band’s former members “that’s ever amounted to anything.” He continued:

“Of all of the ex-bandmembers of Megadeth, Marty seems to be the only one that’s ever amounted to anything. No offense to the other guys — that’s how the facts are. If you look at their sales and stuff, Marty’s the only one that’s ever done anything significant.”

“And to be able to go over and visit him in his world… It was neat to see him out of his environment. Plus, when he came in, he was very suggestive on some things to make the show really smooth. And he wanted to go over all the songs that we were playing several times to make sure everything was just really shit-hot.”

Megadeth in Japan feat. Marty Friedman

Reflecting on what it was like to play with Friedman again, Dave also praised his performance, revealing how everyone was impressed by his performance:

“And, of course, Marty being in Marty fashion, he got out there and he mesmerized us all, me included. I found it kind of hard to watch him and do my job at the same time, but I very much wanted to just sit there and watch Kiko and Marty play together because they two are some of the greatest guitar players in hard rock and heavy metal right now, and to watch the two of them play together was remarkable.”

Of course, Megadeth is known for being pretty much Dave Mustaine and an ever-changing lineup of musicians. The current lineup, apart from him and Kiko Loureiro on lead guitar, also features Dirk Verbeuren on drums and James LoMenzo on bass.

The latest album, titled “The Sick, the Dying… and the Dead!,” came out in 2022 and featured Testament’s Steve Di Giorgio on bass guitar as a session member. Of course, the album was originally planned to feature David Ellefson and he began contributing when the recording process started in 2021.

Megadeth - We’ll Be Back: Chapter I

However, due to a private-video-related scandal that surfaced in May of that year, Ellefson was eventually fired and all of his recorded takes were scrapped. The whole record was then done with Di Giorgio on bass while Ellefson went on to start his own projects Kings of Thrash and Dieth.

Photo: Sven Mandel (Megadeth – 2017216231609 2017-08-04 Wacken – Sven – 1D X MK II – 1246 – AK8I0462)

  • 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, as well as a freelance contributor to online magazines such as GuitaristNextdoor and brands like Sam Ash.