Thrash Metal

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Calum Lewis 1 Special Subject Investigation Proposal By Calum Lewis For my special subject I will be investigating Thrash Metal. To research this topic I will use the following resources: Knowledge that I have from my experience with Thrash Metal. Various Magazines with Thrash Metal references in them. Biographies from certain Thrash Metal band members, namely Dave Mustaine’s “Heavy Metal Memoir”. ‘Get Thrashed: The Story of Thrash Metal’ Documentary. ‘The Decline of Western Civilization, Part 2: The Metal Years’ ’The Arsenal of Megadeth’ ‘Sonisphere: Live from Sofia’ Other DVD’s from various Thrash Metal Bands and Documentaries. Internet searches. Footnotes in Thrash Metal Albums. I will be focusing my research on the birth of Thrash Metal by looking at the origins of the genre, such as punk and Heavy Metal, The Big 4 of Thrash Metal (Anthrax, Slayer, Metallica and Megadeth), The Thrash Metal culture that grew from the Bay Area in the 80’s, Thrash Metal bands that formed after it became popular in America, and the new wave of Thrash Metal that began in 2008 with bands like Sylosis, Evile, Black Tide and Bonded by Blood. More than anything else I will be researching Dave Mustaine’s life

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Transcript of Thrash Metal

Page 1: Thrash Metal

Calum  Lewis   1  

Special Subject Investigation Proposal

By Calum Lewis

For my special subject I will be investigating Thrash Metal.

To research this topic I will use the following resources:

• Knowledge that I have from my experience with Thrash Metal.

• Various Magazines with Thrash Metal references in them.

• Biographies from certain Thrash Metal band members, namely Dave

Mustaine’s “Heavy Metal Memoir”.

• ‘Get Thrashed: The Story of Thrash Metal’ Documentary.

• ‘The Decline of Western Civilization, Part 2: The Metal Years’

• ’The Arsenal of Megadeth’

• ‘Sonisphere: Live from Sofia’

• Other DVD’s from various Thrash Metal Bands and Documentaries.

• Internet searches.

• Footnotes in Thrash Metal Albums.

I will be focusing my research on the birth of Thrash Metal by looking at the

origins of the genre, such as punk and Heavy Metal, The Big 4 of Thrash

Metal (Anthrax, Slayer, Metallica and Megadeth), The Thrash Metal culture

that grew from the Bay Area in the 80’s, Thrash Metal bands that formed

after it became popular in America, and the new wave of Thrash Metal that

began in 2008 with bands like Sylosis, Evile, Black Tide and Bonded by

Blood. More than anything else I will be researching Dave Mustaine’s life

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and input into the world of Thrash Metal and Metal as a whole, as Dave

Mustaine essentially started Thrash Metal.

I will be splitting my investigation into chapters, starting with:

• The formation of Metallica, early career. Their influences and the

creation of Thrash Metal.

• How Metallica influenced the Metal industry.

• The early lives of individual members of Metallica:

- James Hetfield.

- Lars Ulrich.

- Dave Mustaine.

- Cliff Burton.

- Kirk Hammett.

- Jason Newsted.

• Dave Mustaine’s exit from Metallica and formation of Megadeth.

• Dave Mustaine’s Life and the history of Megadeth, as well as their

impact on the Thrash Metal Community.

• The Big 4 and the 80’s Thrash Movement with references to

Exodus, Annihilator, Sepultura and Kreator.

• The influence of Thrash Metal on other genres of Metal.

• The New wave of Thrash Metal, with references to Black Tide,

Evile, Sylosis and Bonded by blood and their link with 80’s Thrash

Metal and 80’s Thrash Metal bands.

• Conclusion, my opinions on Thrash Metal.


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My plan is to spend around 2 weeks on each topic, though some topics I

will be looking at are rather long and some a fairly short. So the time

frames may vary.

Weeks 4 – 5: Researching the history of Metallica, its formation and its

creation of Thrash Metal.

Weeks 5 – 7: Writing about The formation of Metallica and their influences.

Weeks 8 – 9: Researching how Metallica influenced bands and the

industry since they began in the 80’s up into the modern day, by looking at

bands and musicians known influences.

Weeks 9 – 11: Writing about How Metallica influenced the Metal industry.

Weeks 11 – 12: reading online biographies of the all the Metallica


Weeks 12 – 14: Writing about the Metallica member’s early lives and their

early musical history.

Weeks 15 – 16: Researching why and when Metallica sacked Dave

Mustaine from the band, and how and why Dave started Megadeth.

Weeks 16 – 18: Writing about Dave Mustaine’s exit from Metallica and

formation of Megadeth.

Weeks 19 – 21: Reading Dave Mustaine’s Biography and various

publications of about his life and his work in Megadeth (via magazines and


Weeks 21 – 23: Writing about Dave Mustaine’s Life and the history of

Megadeth, as well as their impact on the Thrash Metal Community.

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Weeks 24 – 25: Reading about the rivalry between Megadeth and


Weeks 25 – 27: Writing about the rivalry between Megadeth and Metallica.

Weeks 28 – 29: Reading and researching The Big 4 and other notable

bands that started and engaged in the Thrash Metal Movement across the

world with references to Exodus, Annihilator, Sepultura and Kreator via the

internet and DVD’s.

Weeks 29 – 31: Writing about The Big 4 and the 80’s Thrash Movement

and what it all means

Weeks 31 – 32: Reading and writing about the influence of Thrash Metal

on other genres of Metal.

Weeks 32 – 33: Researching and writing about the New wave of Thrash

Metal, with references to Black Tide, Evile, Sylosis and Bonded by blood

and their link with 80’s Thrash Metal and 80’s Thrash Metal bands.

Weeks 33 – 34: Writing my Conclusion and final thoughts on the topic of

Thrash Metal, talking about my opinions on the genre and what I have

learnt during the write-up.

Week 34: Finishing up the write-up and proof reading.

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Metallica and the Birth of Thrash Metal

Metallica started in 1981 after Lars Ulrich (at this point a soon to be Tennis

prodigy) placed an ad in the Los Angeles Newspaper ‘The Recycler’. The ad


"Drummer looking for other metal musicians to jam with, Tygers of Pan Tang,

Diamond Head and Iron Maiden."

James Hetfield and his friend Hugh Tanner (both of which were in the band

‘Leather Charm’) answered the ad. Supposedly Lars Ulrich at this point was

not a very good drummer, according to this quote from James Hetfield:

"Lars had a pretty crappy drum kit, with one cymbal. It kept falling over, and

we'd have to stop, and he'd pick the fucking thing up. He really was not a

good drummer."

-James Hetfield, on his first jam with Lars, Playboy Magazine, 2001

Even at this time, when Lars didn’t have a band, he still asked his friend Brian

Slagel, founder of Metal Blade Records, if he could record a song for the

labels upcoming compilation album Metal Massacre I. When Brian Slagel said

that he could, Lars Ulrich recruited James Hetfield to play rhythm guitar and

sing. On October 28th 1981 the band was officially formed.

In the Fall of 1981 the band still did not have a name, Ulrich made a list of

several potential band names including: Blitzer, Grinder, Helldriver,

Thunderfuck, as well as "Lars Ulrich" spelled backwards. At this same time

Lars’ friend Ron Quintana was brainstorming names for his upcoming

Fanzine, among the names he had were: Metal Mania, and Metallica. Lars

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convinced Quintana to use Metal Mania and then stole Metallica to use as his

band’s name.

Without a Lead guitar player, Lars Ulrich placed another ad in ‘The Globe’

newspaper asking for a lead guitar player. Dave Mustaine, who recently left a

band called Panic, responded to the ad purely because of the bands that

Ulrich mentioned in it. The bands mentioned were three of Mustaine’s

favourites. They were Iron Maiden, Motorhead and Welsh band, Budgie

(Mustaine’s favorite band). Mustaine met with Lars prior to his audition and

Lars played him a rough recording of ‘Hit the Lights’. Later, Mustaine took all

of his gear and went to audition with Metallica. When Lars and James saw

Mustaine’s expensive equipment and heard him warm up, they decided to

recruit him into the band. Dave has this to say about the situation:

"Before the rehearsal, I went to Lars's house and he played me the tape of

'Hit the Lights.' I said, 'This song sucks! You need more guitar solos.' And

Lars went, 'Oh, fuck, reeeeaaallly?!' I convinced him that I should be in the

band and went to rehearsal. I was tuning up when all the other guys went into

another room. They weren't talking to me, so I went in and said, 'What the

fuck? Am I in the band or not?' And they said, 'You've got the gig.' I couldn't

believe how easy it had been and suggested we get some beer to celebrate."

— Dave on his memories of the first Metallica rehearsal, Metallica: Unbound

Later, Metallica recorded their first hit song ‘Hit the Lights’ for the Metal

Massacre I compilation. The line-up included: James Hetfield (Vocals, Bass),

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Lars Ulrich (Drums), Dave Mustaine (Lead Guitar) and Lloyd Grant (Jamaican

Delta Blues guitarist and band friend) was also credited with a guitar solo.

In March of 1982, Metallica played their first show with their first complete line

up: James Hetfield (vocals), Dave Mustaine (Guitar), Lars Ulrich (Drums) and

Ron McGovney (Bass) who joined the band soon after they recorded ‘Hit The

Lights’ for Metal Massacre I. Before the band played their first show, Hetfield

thought that the band needed a front man, and thought that playing guitar and

singing at the same time didn’t look right. Originally James wanted to just play

guitar in the band and wanted another singer to be the frontman for Metallica,

so they recruited Sammy Dijon. After a few unsuccessful practice sessions

with Dijon, the band decided that Hetfield should be the singer and that

Mustaine should handle all the guitar parts. James Hetfield didn’t start playing

guitar and singing until May 25th 1982 at Backbay High School in Costa Mesa.

They played their first show at Radio City in Anaheim, California.

Their set list included:

• Hit the Lights

• Blitzkrieg (Diamond Head)

• Helpless (Diamond Head)

• Jump in the Fire

• Let it Loose (The Rolling Stones)

• Sucking My Love (Diamond Head)

• Am I Evil? (Diamond Head)

• The Prince (Diamond Head)

• Killing Time (Sweet Savage)

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Metallica gained a lot of popularity very quickly. So much so that by late

March, only a couple of weeks after Metallica played their first show, they

opened for the Heavy Metal band Saxon. Originally Motley Crüe where

scheduled to open for Saxon but gave up the position because they thought

they were “too big to open” (– Tommy Lee & Vince Neil). Tommy Lee and

Vince Neil then introduced Ron McGovney to the Booking agent and Metallica

ended up playing two shows that night.

Later that year in April of 1982 Metallica recorded their first demo, it was titled

‘The Power Metal Demo’ the reason behind this name came from bassist Ron

McGovney. When the demo was recorded Ron McGovney made business

cards which read: “METALLICA – Power Metal” McGovney coined the phrase

“Power Metal” because he thought it had “a nice ring to it”. Lars Ulrich

apparently hated the term, so he changed the name of the demo to “The

Power Metal Demo”. Soon after “The Power Metal Demo” was released

Hetfield decided to start playing rhythm guitar in the band whilst singing.

The songs featured on The Power Metal Demo where:

1. Hit The Lights (Hetfield, Ulrich)

2. Jump in the Fire (Mustaine)

3. The Mechanix (Mustaine)

4. Motorbreath (Hetfield)

Metallica played several gigs around LA, gaining some popularity. Their true

success began when ‘Metal Massacre I’ was released with a rough recording

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of their song “Hit The Lights”. Although the album incorrectly spelled Metallica

as “Mettallica” the band’s fan base grew.

A Month later, Metallica recorded the band’s second demo ‘No Life ‘Till

Leather’ it featured the songs:

1. Hit The Lights

2. Mechanix

3. Motorbreath

4. Seek and Destroy

5. Metal Militia

6. Jump in the Fire

7. Phantom Lord

This demo was recorded with the new line up with James Hetfield on Rhythm

Guitar and Lead Vocals, Dave Mustaine on Lead Guitar and Backing Vocals,

Ron McGovney on Bass Guitar and Lars Ulrich on Drums.

Soon after, Lars Ulrich and James Hetfield began to dislike bassist Ron

McGovney, claiming that he “didn’t contribute”. Acting on this feeling, Hetfield

and Ulrich went to see the band ‘Trauma’ that featured a bassist by the name

of Cliff Burton. After being blown away by Burton’s performance, Hetfield

asked Burton to join Metallica. He initially declined the offer.

In November of that year, Metallica played a show at ‘The Old Waldorf’ in San

Francisco. This was the first time Metallica had come in to contact with the

band Exodus, and was also the first time Hetfield and Ulrich met Kirk

Hammett (Lead guitar player for Exodus at this point). The night after this

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show, Ron McGovney left the band after constant clashes with Lead guitarist

Dave Mustaine, such as when in rehearsal Mustaine poured a can of beer into

McGovney’s pick-ups, which resulted in Ron getting an intense electrical


A month later Cliff Burton was offered the chance to join Metallica again. This

time Burton accepted the offer, but on the condition that the band moved to

San Francisco. On December 28th 1982, Metallica had their first rehearsal

with Cliff in El Cerrito and on March 5th 1983, Metallica played their first show

with Cliff, at a club called ‘The Stone’ in San Francisco. Incidentally this was

also one of the last shows the band played with Lead guitarist Dave Mustaine.

In April 1983, Metallica moved to the east coast of America in order to meet

Johnny Zazula and to start rehearsing for their debut album, which originally

was to be titled “Metal Up Your Ass”, but after refusal from their record

company (Megaforce records) and distributors they changed the name to ‘Kill

‘Em All’.

Whilst on the east coast the band lived in their rehearsal space, as they had

nowhere else to go. Metallica made friend’s with other Thrash Metal band

‘Anthrax’ who let Metallica use their fridge, toaster and also their shower.

Soon after, tired of his excessive drinking, drug taking and violent mood

swings. Ulrich and Hetfield decided to kick Mustaine out of the band. They

woke Mustaine up one morning, handed him a bus ticket back to L.A. and

reportedly said “You know what? You’re out.” In response Mustaine claims to

have said “What? No warning? No second chance?” That morning Mustaine

left for L.A. on a bus with all his gear and months later formed Megadeth.

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Later that day, in the afternoon, Mustaine’s replacement Kirk Hammett joined

Metallica. Metallica played a few shows with their new line-up before entering

the studio in May. On July 25th, 1983, ‘Kill ‘Em All’ was released both in the

U.S. and Europe. It was a critical success. Selling over 3 million units

worldwide (3 times platinum).

The ‘Kill ‘Em All’ track list is as follows:

1. Hit The Lights

Written by –Hetfield and Ulrich

2. The Four Horsemen (Mechanix, but with different lyrics and a new


Written by Hetfield, Mustaine and Ulrich.

3. Motorbreath

Written by Hetfield.

4. Jump in the Fire

Written by Hetfield, Mustaine and Ulrich.

5. (Anesthesia) Pulling Teeth

Written by Burton.

6. Whiplash

Written by Hetfield and Ulrich.

7. Phantom Lord

Written by Hetfield, Mustaine and Ulrich.

8. No Remorse

Written by Hetfield and Ulrich.

9. Seek & Destroy

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Written by Hetfield and Ulrich.

10. Metal Militia

Written by Hetfield, Mustaine and Ulrich.

No one knows where the actual term ‘Thrash Metal’ came from, but the

term is given to music that is usually fast, loud, angry, has several guitar

solos and typically shouted vocals. It was primarily created when James

Hetfield took the angry playing styles of Punk Rock and mixed it with the

Heavy Metal style. However, personally I think that it was Dave Mustaine

that gave life to Thrash Metal, by infusing his own love for Punk Rock and

NWOBHM bands, making the songs and playing style, faster, louder, more

intricate and complex.

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Metallica and the Metal Industry

Metallica has influenced several bands in their career; they even

influenced some bands before they got signed. Bands like Slayer and

Anthrax were heavily influenced by Metallica when they entered the scene,

Kerry King stated in an interview that seeing Dave Mustaine playing fast

solo’s and head banging in Metallica was unlike anything he’d ever seen.

Also former Anthrax singer, John Bush cites James Hetfield as one of his

top 20 vocal influences in an interview on, and Anthrax

guitarist Scott Ian in an interview with states that

Metallica’s ‘Kill ‘Em All’ and Megadeth’s ‘Killing is my business… and

business is good’ are some of his most influential albums.

Of course Megadeth was also influenced by Metallica, but in a different

kind of way. Dave Mustaine, after he was kicked out of Metallica, vowed to

form a band that could blow Metallica out of the water. Whether or not he

succeeded is subject to opinion.

Since the 80’s, Metallica has influenced a cornucopia of bands, spanning

several genres and sub-genres. In fact I think I would go as far as saying

that Metallica has influenced almost all modern metal. For example

Trivium guitarists Matt Heafy and Corey Beaulieu cite Metallica as one of

their main influences, in fact Matt Heafy claims that James Hetfield

specifically is his main influence and the reason he started playing guitar.

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Machine Head based their highly popular album The Blackening on the

songwriting style of Metallica’s Master of Puppets and …And Justice for all

by having fairly long progressive Thrash Metal based songs. Some more

people and bands that claim Metallica is a main influence are Jonathan

Davis (KoRn), Godsmack, God Forbid and Ill Nino. Some Bands have

even been accused of ripping off Metallica riffs and songs, Bands such as

Disappear by Bullet for My Valentine that has a section that is very similar

to a riff in Creeping Death by Metallica. Also a riff in Avenged Sevenfold’s

Nightmare was compared to Orion by Metallica.

Several Metallica Tribute bands and Tribute albums have been made too,

a brief list of these would be:

Tribute bands:

• Misstallica (All Female tribute band)

• Mentallica

• Damage Inc.

• Metalleeka

• Metal Militia (Tribute band that became Evile)

Tribute Albums:

• The Blackest Album: An Industrial Tribute to Metallica – Various


• Plays Metallica by Four Cellos – Apocalyptica

• Metallica Tribute CD – Kerrang (Various Artists)

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• Hip-Hop Tribute to Metallica: The Ultimate Mash-up – Various


• Metallic Attack: The Ultimate Metallica Tribute Album – Various


During their career, Metallica has recorded and sold 10 studio albums and

are reportedly working on an 11th. These albums in chronological order


• Kill ‘Em All (1983) [sold over 3 million copies in the US to date]

• Ride the Lightning (1984) [sold over 5 million copies in the US to


• Master of Puppets (1986) [sold over 6 million copies in the US to


• …And Justice for All (1988) [sold over 8 million copies in the US to


• Metallica (AKA Black Album) (1991) [sold over 15 million copies in

the US to date]

• Load (1996) [sold over 5 million copies in the US to date]

• ReLoad (1997) [sold over 3 million copies in the US to date]

• St. Anger (2003) [sold over 2 million copies in the US to date]

• Death Magnetic (2008) [sold over 2 million copies in the US to date]

• Lulu (collaboration with Lou Reed) (2011)[sold over 100,000 copies

worldwide in its first 2 weeks]

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Since they began, Metallica have had several achievements, including

nine Grammy awards, three Billboard Music Awards and they were also

inducted into the Rock n’ Roll in 2009.

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The Early Lives of the Individual Members of Metallica

James Hetfield:

On August 3rd 1963, in Downey, California, James Hetfield was born; he

has two older half-brothers and a younger sister. Virgil, James’ father,

abandoned Hetfield when he was young, then Hetfield’s parents divorced

in 1976 when James was 13. Hetfield’s mother died of cancer when he

was 16. Hetfield has been quite musical since he was fairly young, his

mother was a light opera singer and James started playing piano at the

age of 9. Hetfield didn’t start playing guitar until he was 14.

Lars Ulrich:

Lars Ulrich was born on December 26th 1963 in Gentofte, Denmark. He

was born into a fairly wealthy family, as his father (Torben Ulrich) was a

Tennis-pro. Ulrich had his first experience with heavy metal when he was

9, when his father got hold of passes to see a Deep Purple concert in

Copenhagen. Since then Lars has been obsessed with Heavy Metal and

when Lars was 12, he received his first drum kit from his grandmother. In

1980 when he was 17, Ulrich moved to San Francisco.

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Dave Mustaine:

Dave Mustaine was born in La Mesa, California on September 13th, 1961,

His mother (Emily) was a Jehovah’s Witness and his father (John) was an

abusive alcoholic. He is the youngest of four children, he has three older

sisters. Mustaine’s parents divorced when he was very young and since

the divorce the family has moved around a lot in order to avoid Dave’s

father, John, this was until Dave was 16, when he began to live on his

own, he rented an apartment and paid the rent by dealing drugs. It was

through dealing drugs that he got his fix of heavy metal. One of Mustaine’s

clients was a clerk at a record store and didn’t have the money to pay for

the drugs she wanted, so in lieu of money she paid Mustaine with sex and

records from artists such as Iron Maiden, Motorhead, Budgie and Judas

Priest. Dave Mustaine didn’t have a particularly musical upbringing, but he

did start playing guitar briefly when he was a pre-teen with mainly folk,

country and pop influences. It was when Mustaine was 15 that he started

playing electric guitar, initially though he started playing electric guitar

seriously in order to get girls.

Cliff Burton:

On February 10th, 1962, Cliff Burton was born in Castro Valley California,

and was the youngest of three children. Burton’s initial interest in music

came from classical music, which his father introduced him to, from this

interest Cliff began to play the piano at the age of six. Burton started to

play bass at the age of 13, after acquiring a taste from Rock and Heavy

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Metal. Though Cliff Burton was very involved in the Thrash Metal Scene,

he was very unlike many other Metal Musicians at the time, in the sense

that he liked other genres such as classical, blues and jazz and that he

also took college courses on Music Theory. He was a very dedicated bass


Kirk Hammett:

Kirk Hammett was born on November 18th, 1962 in San Francisco,

California. Hammett gained his interest for heavy metal and rock music

from his brother. His brother Rick had a large record collection; from

listening to these records he developed a taste for bands and artists such

as Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin and UFO. With his newfound love for Heavy

Metal and Rock music Hammett started to learn how to play guitar when

he was 15 years old. Hammett’s love for Thrash Metal however truly

started when he made friends and started a band with Paul Baloff, this

band was called Exodus, it was because of Exodus that Kirk Hammett met

Lars Ulrich and James Hetfield.

Jason Newsted:

Jason Newsted was born on March 4th 1963 in Battle Creek, Michigan.

Newsted first got into heavy metal music when he was 14 after he

heard/saw Kiss for the first time. Newsted idolized Gene Simmons for his

showmanship. It was because of his idolization of Gene Simmons that he

started learning how to play bass. Newsted soon found more to love in the

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Rock and Heavy Metal genres with bands such as Blue Oyster Cult, Rush

and Black Sabbath. It wasn’t long before Newsted started playing in local

bands. Newsted heard Metallica for the first time in 1983, they soon

became one of this favorite bands. His band at the time was called Dogz

but they soon changed their name to Flotsam and Jetsam, this band was

fairly popular, but after hearing news of the tragic death of Metallica’s

bassist Cliff Burton and also hearing that Metallica was holding auditions

for a new bassist, Newsted jumped at the opportunity.

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Dave Mustaine’s Exit From Metallica And The Formation

Of Megadeth

When Dave Mustaine was fired from Metallica in 1981 for excessive

drinking, drug use and violent mood swings he was pushed onto a bus

headed to Los Angeles with all his equipment. It was on this bus ride that a

vengeful Mustaine made a vow to form a band that could blow Metallica

right out of the water. Mustaine has been quoted as saying this about the


"After getting fired from Metallica, all I remember is that I wanted blood.

Theirs. I wanted to be faster and heavier than them."

It was on this bus ride that Mustaine wrote the lyrics to Set The World


Shortly after arriving in Los Angeles, Mustaine formed a new band; its

name was ‘Fallen Angels’ the original line-up was:

- Lor Caine (Lead Vocals)

- Dave Mustaine (Lead Guitar)

- Robby McKinney (Rhythm Guitar)

- Matt Kisselstein (Bass Guitar)

During this time, Mustaine had rented an apartment in Hollywood,

California, more specifically it was in the 1736 North Sycamore apartment

building. Mustaine was living directly above a young, 19 year old bassist

called David Ellefson. The two met when Ellefson was playing the bassline

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to Runnin’ With The Devil by Van Halen fairly loud one morning.

Meanwhile, upstairs a very hung over Mustaine was trying to sleep.

Getting evermore pissed off at the loud bass player playing downstairs,

Mustaine grabs a plant pot, drops it on Ellefsons air conditioner and yells

at him to shut up. Later, Ellefson knocks on Mustaines door and asks him if

he knew anywhere that sold cigarettes, Mustaine told him that there was a

liquor store down the street, he then slammed the door on Ellefsons face.

Ellefson knocks on Mustaines door again and asks him if he’s old enough

to buy beer, Mustaine simply said “Now you’re talking” and the two

became friends and Mustaine decided to ask him and his friend Greg

Handevidt to join ‘Fallen Angels’ to replace Robby McKinney and Matt

Kisselstein. Soon after this happened singer Lor Caine left the band and

the band changed it’s name to ‘Megadeth’, they recruited a drummer called

Dijon Carruthers and began to hold auditions for a new lead singer. These

auditions where unsuccessful and Ellefson purposed that Mustaine should

become the lead singer and lead guitar player, Mustaine agreed. In 1984

the band drummer Dijon Carruthers left the band and was replaced with a

drummer called Lee Raush. It was with this line up that Megadeth recorded

their first demo. The track listings on this demo was:

1. Last Rites / Loved To Death

2. The Skull Beneath The Skin

3. The Mechanix

Soon after this demo was recorded Lee Raush left the band. Megadeth

hired Kerry King who had just left Slayer to fill in on guitar. Kerry King

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played in Megadeth for about a week before leaving to rejoin Slayer. The

band then fired Lee Raush and replaced him with Gar Samuelson who was

a former Jazz-fusion drummer. To fill the guitar slot, the band hired Gar

Samuelson’s friend Chris Poland who was also a jazz-fusion musician.

Then finally in November of 1984 the band got singed to Combat records

and their first record ‘Killing Is My Business… and Business Is Good’ was


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Dave Mustaine’s Life, The History of Megadeth and their

Impact on the Thrash Metal Community

To say that Dave Mustaine has had a tortured life is an understatement.

He had to grow up with an abusive, alcoholic father. He had to live in a

devoted Jehovah’s Witness’ home. He had to constantly move house from

state to state to avoid his father. He had to take up drug dealing in order to

keep a roof over his head and food in his stomach. He’s fought with drug

and alcohol addiction for the majority of his life (even going to rehab 17

times). He has had a near death experience, fought with his identity, lost

friends and family, and he’s also suffered setbacks that threatened his


I’ve covered the early portion of Mustaine’s life in the previous chapters,

ranging from his childhood, his adolescence through to his early adulthood.

But that was just the tip of the iceberg. For the majority of the time that

Megadeth has been going, Mustaine has been on a constant drink and

drug binge. One binge in particular after a gig, ended with Mustaine dying

briefly and then being revived. Throughout the years Mustaine has

admitted to using: Pot, Hash, Opium, Psychedelics, Speed, Magic

Mushrooms, LSD, Heroin, Cocaine and several others. It was all part of the

party attitude he had. Not surprisingly his addictions lead to several of his

band members using drugs. He was taken to rehab sixteen times, but he

never stayed sober for very long. That was until late 2001 when he kicked

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drugs for good. Dave had gone to rehab for the seventeenth (and last) time

to kick his addiction to pain killers, he was there until January, 2002. It was

at this time that Dave had quite a career-jeopardizing accident, an accident

that ended up with Dave suffering from something called Radial

Neuropathy AKA Saturday Night Palsy. This happened because Mustaine

was sleeping in a chair with his arm resting over the top. The doctors told

him that he probably would never be able to play the guitar ever again.

Mustaine had to disband Megadeth and start physical therapy. During this

time Mustaine finished his rehabilitation, he also got baptised and became

a Christian. After four months of gruelling physiotherapy, Mustaine was

told that his arm was 100% healed. He eventually reformed Megadeth in

2004 and the band has been going strong since.

During the almost 30 years that Megadeth has been going, the band has

influenced several people and bands, in the early days the bands faster

and darker sound influenced Slayer, more specifically, Kerry King. Lamb of

God has cited Megadeth as a huge influence to their sound, their guitar

player Mark Morton, claims that Megadeth’s album Peace Sells… But

Who’s Buying is the reason he started playing Metal. Overkill’s singer

believes that Dave Mustaine is one of the best songwriters in Metal.

Canadian Thrash Metal band Annihilator’s guitar player Jeff Waters drew a

lot of influence from Megadeths speed. Shadows Fall state that they are

big fans of Megadeth. Death Angel holds Megadeth as one of their biggest

influences. Scott Ian from Anthrax has even said that he believes that

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without Dave Mustaine, there would be no Metallica and that Thrash Metal

may not even exist at all.

Mustaine has said and done some controversial things in the past but

whether you like him or not, he has changed the face of metal forever with

his raw energy, virtuosic guitar playing and his staggering song-writing


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The Big 4 and the 80’s Thrash Movement

As soon as bands like Metallica, Anvil and Venom (With albums like

Welcome To Hell [1981] and Black Metal [1982]) started playing shows in

the early 80’s, a new style of metal started to sweep the nation. Thrash

Metal. To follow these artists on stage, bands like Exodus, Slayer and

Anthrax started to pop up. This started the beginning of the Thrash Metal

Movement. At the forefront of this movement were four bands; Metallica,

Megadeth, Anthrax and Slayer, these bands, collectively where known as

‘The Big 4’. They were known as the Big 4 because they were the biggest

Thrash Metal bands that started the trend. To follow these bands, bands

started to pop up around the world, bands such as Annihilator (1987)

(Canada), Sepultura (1984) (Brazil) and Kreator (1982) (Germany). More

of them also started to show up in America. Bands like Testament (1983),

Suicidal Tendencies (1981) and Death Angel (1982). The Thrash Metal

scene was pretty extreme, and the fans were quite particular. In fact they

had a dress code, the typical Thrash fan would have long hair, tight jeans,

white sneakers (usually the jeans where slightly tucked into their shoes),

Black Band’s tour T-shirts and a jean jacket with the sleeves cut off, which

was covered with patches and buttons.

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The Influence of Thrash Metal on other genres of Metal.

Thrash Metal ended up directly influencing many genres of music, most

notably, Black Metal and Death Metal. Black Metal spawned mainly from

Venom’s album “Black Metal” (1982), but other bands such as Celtic Frost

and Bathory also played a hand in the formation of Black Metal.

Collectively they were known as the “First Wave of Black Metal. Black

Metal characteristically involves Blast beat drum, fast tempos, double

bass, tremolo picking, high pitched screamed vocals and mainly satanic

lyrical themes. Black Metal gradually became more unique, but it really

came into stride in the 90’s with the second wave of Black Metal with

bands like Burzum, Mayhem and Immortal. Of course Black Metal has its

own incredibly rich history, but that’s a whole other story. Like I said earlier,

Thrash Metal also influenced Death Metal. This was mainly thanks to

Slayer and early Black Metal. They’re extreme, heavy styles swayed bands

like Death, Possessed and Deicide to make even heavier music. Death

Metal gets its name from its lyrical content; most of the songs are about

death, suicide and murder so the name “Death Metal” seems fitting, though

the term “Death metal” was fuelled by musical releases across the globe.

In 1984, Possessed released a demo entitled “Death Metal”, Hellhammer

(A Swedish band) was featured on a compilation album called “Death

Metal” and Death released their demo “Death By Metal”. It was Death that

was credited for evolving Death Metal into its own genre though. Their

songs featured harsh screamed/growled vocals, fast, tremolo picked minor

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key riffs and, most importantly, fast drumming. Death Metal truly came into

its own in 1986 though. This was when Slayer’s “Reign In Blood” was

released. The vivid and violent lyrical themes, heavy, tremolo picked riffs

and double bass drumming, courtesy of Dave Lombardo, set the stage for

the plethora of Death Metal bands that would come. Over the years Death

Metal went on to form its own subgenres as well, the most notable being

Melodic Death Metal, this is quite a large part of the modern metal scene

with bands like In Flames, Soilwork and Carcass. Thrash Metal has

influenced another genre, very heavily in fact, a genre that has been

prominent in the Metal scene for the past 20 years, Groove Metal. Pantera

essentially created groove Metal with their album “Cowboys From Hell”

which was released in 1990. Groove Metal is the term used for bands that

play music that is, in essence, Thrash Metal played at a slower tempo and

contains some form of groove aside from the monotonous, infamous blast-

beat or Thrash-beat. Many Groove Metal bands have popped up over the

years, such as Sepultura, who originally played Thrash Metal, but changed

up their style with their album “Chaos A.D.” which was released in 1993.

Lamb of God who started in 1994 as “Burn the Priest” and released their

first, self-titled album in 1999 and Machine Head who started in 1991 and

released their first album “Burn My Eyes” in 1994. Groove Metal and

Thrash Metal have also spawned a few other sub-genres as well, such as

Nu Metal, which was intensely popular in the late 90’s and early 2000’s

with bands like Korn, Slipknot, System Of A Down and Linkin Park and

Metalcore which gained a lot of popularity in the early to mid 2000’s and is

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still a very popular genre today. Metalcore was made popular with bands

like Trivium, Killswitch Engage and Bullet For My Valentine. So as you can

see, Thrash Metal is one of the most important pieces in the history of

Metal, without it, we wouldn’t have the diverse and vast amount of styles

we have in Metal today.

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The New wave of Thrash Metal

Thrash Metal, during the 90’s and early 00’s was pushed out of

mainstream metal culture. Other genres and sub-genres were emerging

and people wanted change. However, saying that, Thrash Metal didn’t

really die, it was simple pushed back into its underground roots. Well, that

was until the mid-2000’s when a sudden resurrection happened in the

scene. Bands like Municipal Waste, Evile, Toxic Holocaust and Gama

Bomb started to crop up all around the same time. Hazardous Mutation by

Municipal Waste came out in 2005 and received a lot of attention,

especially with their song “Unleash The Bastards”. From that, Thrash Metal

bands from across the globe started to get picked up by record labels, SSS

from Liverpool, England were signed in 2007, Evile, from Huddersfield,

England were also signed in 2007, Warpath from Swansea, Wales were

signed in 2008, Toxic Holocaust from Oregon, USA were signed in 2003

but only started to get popular in 2008 with their album “An Overdose of

Death”, Gama Bomb, from Northern Ireland were signed in 2008, Violator

from Brazil were signed in 2007 and Merciless Death from California were

also signed in 2007.

But it wasn’t just original bands that popped up at this time, older Thrash

bands either got back together and/or started to produce Thrash albums

again. Testament, who had various problems in the band since around

2001, released their album Formation of Damnation in 2008. Slayer, who

had been going through a bit of a dry spell with their music since around

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1998, released their album World Painted Blood in 2009 and even

Metallica, who had been going through quite a serious case of identity

crisis since around 1994, released their album Death Magnetic in 2008.

Also with this Thrash Metal revival, a very special and monumental tour

took place. The “Big Four” Tour, this was a seven show long tour that

involved Metallica, Megadeth, Slayer and Anthrax sharing one bill, this had

never been done before and was something that fans of Thrash Metal had

wanted to see since the 80’s, this took place in 2010.

There is no real clear reason why Thrash Metal had such an explosion of

popularity. The general consensus is that the unrelenting energy in Thrash

Metal is something that other genres can’t replicate, or at least not as well.

But my view on it is that all Metal fans at some point have listened to

Thrash Metal from the 80’s, it’s pretty much the only genre in Metal that all

metal fans seem to like. When Thrash became popular initially in the 80’s,

the power driving it started to subside because it became something that

certain people were trying to commercialize, it lost its meaning. When

Thrash went back to the underground that initial momentum and energy

came back to the genre, and when the right band and album came along

(Hazardous Mutation – Municipal Waste), people where immediately

thrown back into the 80’s Thrash albums. It was something that all Metal

fans could unite in loving.

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I am a self-proclaimed lover of Thrash Metal, I love everything about it, it’s

raw energy, the blistering guitar riffs and solos and the political, semi-

satirical and violent vocals/lyrics. I was even in a Thrash Metal band of my

own that started in 2009, Teratoma (Now Amnesia), I was the lead singer

and guitar player; it was the first band I was a part of. I’ve followed the

Thrash scene ever since I started listening to Metal, which was when I was

around 11. I’ve gone to see quite a few Thrash Metal shows and I also

have quite a good collection of Thrash Metal Albums.

In my opinion, without Thrash Metal, the entire metal genre would have

collapsed, without Thrash Metal in the 80’s there would have only been

Glam Metal bands, it would never have lasted. Plus without Thrash, Other

genres would not have come to be, as I said in a previous chapter, without

Thrash, there would not be Death Metal, Black Metal, Groove Metal,

Metalcore, Thrashcore, Extreme Metal, Nu Metal, Speed Metal, there may

not even have been Grunge music.

No other genre of music, for me, can match the unrelenting energy that

Thrash Metal conveys, I’ve listened to and am a fan of many genres of

music, not just those found in Metal, but I always find my self flicking to the

Thrash Metal songs on my iPod when I’m on the bus. Even if you don’t like

it yourself, you still cannot argue that without it the Metal scene would be

non-existent or at least, almost non-existent.

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SSI:  Thrash  Metal  Bibliography  A  Website  about  Metallica’s  History.  An  Article  about  Lars  Ulrich,  drummer  for  Metallica.,_Lars/Biography/  A  Biography  about  Lars  Ulrich.  An  Article  about  Dave  Mustaine,  original  lead  guitar  player  for  Metallica  and  founder  of  Megadeth.  A  Biography  about  Dave  Mustaine.  An  Article  about  Cliff  Burton,  bassist  for  Metallica,  1982  -­‐  1986.  A  Biography  about  Cliff  Burton.  A  Biography  about  Kirk  Hammett,  Dave  Mustaine’s  replacement  in  Metallica.  An  Article  about  Kirk  Hammett.­‐newsted-­‐p109562/biography  A  Biography  about  Jason  Newsted,  Cliff  Burton’s  Replacement  in  Metallica.  An  Article  about  Jason  Newsted.  A  video  of  David  Ellefson,  co  founder  and  bassist  of  Megadeth,  talking  about  how  Megadeth  started.    Mustaine:  A  Life  In  Metal  (­‐A-­‐Life-­‐Metal-­‐Dave/dp/000732409X/ref=pd_sim_b_1)  Dave  Mustaine’s  Autobiography.  An  Article  about  Megadeth.  

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Calum  Lewis   35  An  Article  stating  the  members  that  Megadeth  has  had  throughout  the  past.  Various  facts  about  Megadeth  and  it’s  individual  members.  An  Article  about  David  Ellefson.  Get  Thrashed:  Megadeth,  clip  from  documentary  about  thrash  metal,  talking  about  Megadeth.  Clip  from  VH1  behind  the  music  special  on  Megadeth  talking  about  drug  use.  An  Article  on  Metallica.­‐Biography/0E308BFFDCDCDDE24825688D002128F6  Another  Article  on  Metallica.  An  Article  on  James  Hetfield,  co-­‐founder,  lead  singer  and  rhythm  guitar  player  for  Metallica.­‐Hetfield.htm  Another  on  James  Hetifield.­‐thrash-­‐metal-­‐pioneers-­‐anvil-­‐a109304  An  Article  on  Canadian  Thrash  Metal  band,  Anvil.  An  Article  about  Venom.  An  Article  about  Venom’s  album  Welcome  To  Hell.  Venom’s  website.    Get  Thrashed  (2006)  (  A  Documentary  on  Thrash  Metal.    Big  Four:  Live  From  Sofia  (­‐The-­‐Big-­‐Live-­‐DVD/dp/B0040PVPYQ/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1338132438&sr=8-­‐1)  Live  DVD  and  mini-­‐documentary  on  the  Big  4  and  the  Big  4  show.    

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Calum  Lewis   36  An  Article  about  Teutonic  (Germanic)  Thrash  Metal.  An  Article  about  Brazilian  Thrash  Metal.­‐Thrash-­‐Metal  An  Article  about  the  Thrash  Metal  scene.  An  Article  about  the  history  of  Black  Metal.  An  Article  about  the  history  of  Death  Metal.  An  Article  about  Melodic  Death  Metal,  a  sub-­‐genre  of  Death  Metal.  An  Article  about  Groove  Metal.  An  “about”  section  on  the  Pantera  official  website.  An  Article  about  Nü  Metal.  An  Article  about  Metalcore.  A  List  of  the  New  Wave  of  Thrash  Metal  bands.  An  Article  about  The  Thrash  Metal  Revival.­‐5aAHSYs  A  Clip  from  the  Big  4:  Live  In  Sofia  DVD  where  the  Big  4  of  Thrash  Metal  (bar  Slayer)  share  a  stage  and  play  Am  I  Evil  by  Diamond  Head.