Metallica vs. Megadeth – Battle Of The Bands

Metallica+vs.+Megadeth+-+Battle+Of+The+Bands

Metallica and Megadeth are two of thrash metal’s Big Four bands, alongside the legendary Slayer and Anthrax. The two are almost always compared, and the fans of both bands are known almost entirely for their hatred for one another within the metalhead community. Accusations that “Mustaine Wrote ‘Em All” and that “Dave can’t play a guitar to save his life” are constantly thrown to and from fans of ‘Tallica and Deth both online and wherever applicable in person. The bitterness, if petulant, is at least somewhat well founded, as before founding Megadeth, it’s frontman Dave Mustaine was briefly the lead guitarist for Metallica and comprised many riffs featured in Kill ‘Em All and Ride The Lightning, Metallica’s debut and sophomore albums. In The Parrot’s first installment of Battle of the Bands, I’m going to compare the two thrash legends based on four criteria: Members, Musicianship, Image, and Consistency. We’ll see which one prevails as the Master of Thrash Metal.

 

MEMBERS

Metallica’s lineup has remained almost completely the same as it was going into 1983, with the only changes being in its bassists- following the tragic accidental death of bassist Cliff Burton in 1986, he was replaced by Jason Newsted, who was eventually replaced by Robert Trujillo in 2003. With the obvious exception of former lead guitarist Dave Mustaine and very early bassist Ron McGovney(who have already been noted and whose main importance as giving Metallica an early practice space, respectively), that covers the entirety of Metallica’s members over the past near 40 years.  In total, the band has seen eight members throughout their entire career, with four of those being bassists.

Megadeth, on the other hand, has had consistent lineup changes throughout its career since 1983. The only consistent mainstay of the band, frontman Dave Mustaine, has been in the band continuously since 1983, a brief few-year hiatus notwithstanding. Bassist David Ellefson is the only other member with nearly as much consistent membership as Mustaine, being a member from 1983 to 2002, and from 2010 until the present. The rest of the current lineup consists of guitarist Kiko Loureiro and drummer Dirk Verbeuren. Former members include all of the following: guitarists Greg Handevidt, Kerry King, Chris Poland, Jay Reynolds, Jeff Young, Marty Friedman, Al Pitrelli, Glen Drover, Chris Broderick; drummers Dijon Carruthers, Richard Girod, Gar Samuelson, Chuck Behler, Nick Menza, Jimmy DeGrasso, Shawn Drover, and Chris Adler; and bassists James MacDonough and James LoMenzo. While some of Megadeth’s lineups, such as the “classic lineup” of the two Davids, Marty Friedman, and Nick Menza, are more well-known than others, Megadeth’s lineups have never had the fame or legacy that Metallica has since the Friedman-Menza era in the 1990s.

If this was simply Dave Mustaine vs. Metallica, I’d give Dave the win in this category, since Dave himself has enough energy and character to put most of Metallica to shame- however, Metallica’s consistent guitars and drum lineups are incredibly iconic in their own right, with James, Lars, and Kirk all being well-known and both famous and infamous, consistently, decade after decade.

Metallica 1, Megadeth 0.

MUSICIANSHIP

These two thrash bands are, in my opinion, some of the most musically talented ever, and just because I find one to be better than the other does not mean the other is bad at musicianship. In Metallica’s heyday, from 1981 until 1992, the band’s musicianship was on point, with technical masterpieces such as “Dyer’s Eve” and “Blackened” off of 1988’s … And Justice For All, the simplistic but heavy “Sad But True” off of The Black Album, the iconic thrash masterpieces “Fight Fire With Fire”, “Ride The Lightning”, “Creeping Death”, and “For Whom The Bell Tolls” from the 1984 album Ride The Lightning, and almost all of their 1983 debut Kill ‘Em All and 1986 release Master of Puppets. Even in their later years, the band has been able to put out seriously good pieces on 1996’s Load, 1997’s, ReLoad, 2003’s St. Anger and have almost nearly returned to their glory days with 2008’s Death Magnetic and 2016’s Hardwired … “To Self Destruct”.

However, even for all of the great riffs in their first four albums, and some great later releases, Metallica has a serious amount of misses on albums like Load, Reload, and especially St. A****r. In the 1990s and early 2000s, the band went in an interesting and odd direction, still good to be sure, but a far cry from the 80s thrash days, and hardly the thrash band we know and love.

Seriously, underneath all of St. Anger’s awful production and snare spam, some of the riffs are truly something great, and work well when performed live with proper song.

 

Megadeth, on the other hand, are masters of pure thrash action. Their only misses which I can think of, albums which really fell flat, are 1999’s Risk and 2013’s Super Collider. In all of Megadeth’s discography, they have more hits than flops, and even their worst albums have good songs such as “Kingmaker” in Super Collider and “Insomnia” and “Wanderlust” in Risk. Songs like “Rattlehead”, “Wake Up Dead”, “Hook In Mouth”, everything from Rust In Peace, Symphony of DestructionYouthanasia all scream solid musicianship, and 2016’s Grammy-winning Dystopia reinforces just how good the band truly is after all these years. While Metallica has put out some seriously good stuff in the early days, and more recently, Megadeth’s discography is so overwhelmingly good from start to finish that it’s hard to compare any band to their pure talent. Dave Mustaine is one of the best guitar players to have ever lived, and it shows- the man can shred rhythm parts more technical than most other band’s leads and solos. Chris Poland’s and Marty Friedman’s solos on their respective albums are some of the nastiest solos ever written, and drummers such as Gar Samuelson and Nick Menza have produced a sound with a technique that simply cannot be replicated, ever, and that’s to say nothing of David Ellefson’s insane basswork.

Did I mention that Dave Mustaine helped to write some of Metallica’s earliest hits such as “The Four Horsemen”, “Jump In The Fire”, and “Ride The Lightning” among others? Not to regurgitate the tired “Mustaine Wrote ‘Em All” line, however to deny the fact that Dave Mustaine wrote some of Metallica’s best songs in their formative years would be unfair, and as such, I have to completely give this over to Megadeth.

Metallica 1, Megadeth 1.

CONSISTENCY

Musical consistency is a big factor for how I judge a band; a great album here or there isn’t as good a qualifier of a band’s rating so much as releasing consistently good albums. Metallica and Megadeth’s discographies are extremely long, with ten and fifteen albums published by the bands respectively. Anyone familiar with the discographies of the two bands knows that Metallica’s discography is, as previously explained, less than consistent musically, both in genre and in quality. After … And Justice For All’s ridiculously thrashy perfection, Metallica’s discography took a serious nosedive, culminating in the musical disaster of St. Anger, and while the band has seen somewhat of a resurgence with their most recent two albums, at this point the band is seemingly too old to recapture the madness of their first four albums. Not only this, but Death Magnetic and Hardwired… both suffer serious production issues which hold the albums back from being as good as they could have been if they were released in the place of Load/ReLoad.

Megadeth, on the other hand, has stayed incredibly consistent over the years, if not always as outstanding as their sound in albums such as Peace Sells… or Rust In Peace. Even though albums like Cryptic WritingsRisk, and Super Collider do exist and taint an otherwise supreme discography, the rest of the albums seriously hold their own and even the worse albums have solid songs among them, such as “Kingmaker”, “Insomnia”, and “Trust”. While Megadeth has gone through interesting periods, the band’s sound has remained relatively consistent bar a few albums, and they certainly make up for their few misses by having incredible albums throughout their long career. Therefore, Musical Consistency goes to Megadeth, giving them 2 of the points and Metallica 1.

IMAGE

Thrash just ain’t the same these days and we all know it. Even still, it would be unfair to compare the bands and their images based on their high and low points throughout their careers, and so as such I will just be comparing the bands’ images from the 1980s until now. Both bands have seen serious evolutions from their debuts in the formative years of thrash, and as their music has changed year to year so too has their look and “aesthetic”.

I mean just look at them. Jason’s hair! James’ beard! It’s incredible.

Metallica’s image has been constantly changing. Ignoring the VERY early spandex days, the band’s image in the 80s and the early 90s was rooted incredibly in NWOBHM and punk iconography, representing accurately the music they were producing in albums like Kill ‘Em All through …And Justice For All. Even after the release of 1991’s commercial-oriented Black Album, the band’s beards, long hair, and denim look defined the metal scene. No one looked more wild, unrefined, or purely badass as Metallica during their heyday.

That said… the 90s and early 2000s were not favorable for the band’s look. Short hair, country-inspired attire, and a shift in genre led to the band becoming incredibly awkward. To me, the band still hasn’t recovered from this change, and despite them trying to regrow their hair and wear more denim and leather, it just ain’t the same, and I fear it might be too late for Metallica to really look as badass as they used to. They might honestly just be too old and pudgy.

Megadeth, on the other hand, has remained almost as consistently badass throughout their whole career. Despite an awkward experimentation with shorter hair and pajama pants during the very late 90s and early 2000s, Dave and the rest of the band’s revolving door of musicians have looked very metal, if not always thrash, since 1983. Even though Dave’s age and drug abuse has caught up with his looks the last two years, he still looks incredible and, if I do say so myself, a little handsome. Junior and the rest of the band, especially their new guitarist and drummer, all look the part of a thrash metal band. Therefor, I’m going to have to give Megadeth the win here, giving them 3 points total and beating Metallica out for good.

CONCLUSION

Even though I think Megadeth wins overall, both bands are still better than 95% of metal bands and 99% of musicians out there to this DAY. Both bands deserve props for being as awesome and important to the genre and music as a whole as they are. Very few can claim to be better or more influential to music history than Metallica and Megadeth, and the fans should remember that when trying to decide who’s better. While I personally prefer Megadeth to Metallica when talking about these four categories, to deny that both bands are legendary in their own right and on equal footing would be ridiculous.

Metallica and Megadeth are BROTHERS and BOTH should be recognized as the influential legends that they are.

Hopefully you all enjoyed the first edition of Battle Of The Bands. There will be more to come in the coming weeks and months.