This Is How Dave Mustaine Reacted to Hearing Metallica’s Debut Album for the First Time (Spoiler: He Wasn’t Happy)

Former Megadeth bassist David Ellefson recently recalled the time when he sat down with Dave Mustaine to listen to Metallica’s debut album “Kill ‘Em All” when it came out. Released in 1983, this marked Metallica’s first LP and was the first big thing for them after parting ways with Mustaine.

In a recent appearance on The Delz Show which also featured his Kings of Thrash bandmates, Ellefson was asked whether Megadeth was intended to be the “fastest and heaviest” thrash metal band out there. And, it turns out that the overall tempo of “Kill ‘Em All” made a huge impact on Megadeth. He offered (transcript via Ultimate Guitar):

“When we started, we didn’t… In fact, Dave [Mustaine] had come out of Metallica and ‘No Life ‘Till Leather’ demo [1982], and it was slower than that.

“I actually remember [when we got a copy] of ‘Kill ‘Em All’ [Metallica’s 1983 debut album], and he sat there… The day we got the album, we sat there for 38 minutes in complete silence [laughs]… listening to the ‘Kill ‘Em All’ record. Yeah, it was uncomfortable, for sure.”

Going more into it, Ellefson recalled what famous manager Doc McGhee thought about it. He continued:

“But, you know, they changed it a lot. Doc McGhee, who managed us through a short minute in the late ’80s, when Jeff [Young, ex-Megadeth guitarist] was in the band, and he said to us, ‘Metallica gives this impression that they’re fast, but they’re really not that fast.’ And I thought that was a really good observation, because, even ‘Kill ‘Em All’ was slowed down quite a bit compared to the demo tape.”

Metallica - Live at Day On The Green, Oakland, CA, USA (1985) [Pro-Shot]

And, of course, by now, we’re all aware how it affected Dave Mustaine and ultimately Megadeth material. Ellefson added:

“So, our stuff was even slower than that. And then this fan wrote a letter, saying, ‘I hope your new shit’s faster than Metallica’s’, ’cause he was mad that ‘Kill ‘Em All’ was slower. So that just fuckin’ set Dave off, and everything turned to what it is.”

Recently, Dave Mustaine sat down for an interview where he looked back on Megadeth’s career and how it all changed over the years. Reflecting on running the band for the past four decades, he said:

“If I’m being completely honest, [guitarist] Kiko [Loureiro], [drummer] Dirk [Verbeuren] and [bassist] James [LoMenzo] are the most pleasant people I’ve ever been in a band with.”

Vital Signs Practicing at Home

“They work hard, aren’t money-driven and live to play. There have been a lot of people in this band, and I’ve dealt with a lot of assholes. Not everyone can handle this level of exposure. Not everyone shares my vision. But I’m not bullshitting you when I say that Megadeth, as it sits right now, is the best it’s ever been in 40 years.”

Continuing off on the matter elsewhere in the interview, Mustaine added:

“To understand how important that is to me, let’s remember how we got there. We had gotten a tour with Iron Maiden, but the whole thing ended because Bruce [Dickinson, Iron Maiden vocalist] got sick. In the blink of an eye, an entire year’s worth of work was canceled, which was financially devastating for [Megadeth’s] Shawn [Drover] and Chris [Broderick].“

Megadeth - We’ll Be Back: Chapter I

“So, the management we had took it upon themselves to call Shawn and Chris and say, ‘The tour is now canceled; you should probably go find another job.’ But I didn’t know about this; all I knew was that my drummer and guitarist had quit. I understood the circumstances, and I might have done the same thing, but I would have fucking told me before I went and quit.“

“Having me find out afterward tells you all you need to know about Shawn and Chris’s characters. But it’s okay; they’ve got Megadeth on their resume. We had some good times together there for a bit.”

Reflecting on having Kiko and Dirk in the band, he said:

“This is the best group of people I’ve ever worked with. When I first heard Kiko play, I was enthralled. Megadeth has had guys like Jeff [Young] and Marty [Friedman], but Kiko is the best we’ve ever had.“

Megadeth - Night Stalkers: Chapter II ft. Ice-T

“I don’t say that because Kiko is in the band now; I say it because it’s the truth. Kiko is the best guitar player out of all of them. When Kiko came in, the wounds from my personality conflicts with Shawn and Chris were fresh, and I had this paradigm of how things were, which I knew I needed to change.“

“But Kiko and I got along, and I eventually knew he was a good fit, personality-wise. So, I said to Kiko, ‘Look, you’re gonna join Megadeth, and your life is gonna change.’ And we had Chris Adler helping us on drums, and I hoped he would stay, but he decided to stay with Lamb of God.“

“So Chris recommended Dirk, and I fell in love as soon as he came in. I could tell that Dirk was the sweetest man, a phenomenal drummer and very humble. With that, I told Dirk the same thing I told Kiko when he joined: ‘Your life is gonna change, so be ready for it.’“

Megadeth - Kiko Loureiro Practicing "Tornado of Souls"

“We still had David Ellefson on bass, but as we know, shit hit the fan. I had to dismiss David from the band, and that left us in the position of needing a bassist. The last thing I wanted was some asshole who would get a brain swell from being in Megadeth. I go back to Kiko, who went from being a guitar player in a band that plays in bars to being in a band that plays in arenas, theaters and stadiums, but he took it in stride.“

“That’s when it dawned on me to invite James back into the band. James has played with Ozzy and has circulated in our industry at the highest levels. He has been great as a band elder, helping those guys when I’m not there. And if I’m being honest, he’s a significant upgrade as a bassist.”

Photos: S. Bollmann (Megadeth Summer Breeze Open Air 2017 18.jpg), (Jameshetfieldwien07 1)


  • 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.