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Book Review: Mustaine: A Life In Metal by Dave Mustaine

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Poor Dave Mustaine. He’s had a tough time of it, you know. Now some might say that’s down to his extreme arrogance and abrasive personality; others would say he’s strong willed and a perfectionist. I’m sure the truth is somewhere in the middle, but nothing can take away from the fact that this autobiography is a remarkably open account of his many years in metal.

He’s been through drug and alcohol addictions, musical highs and lows, and about a hundred different lineups of Megadeth, before sobering up, losing the ability to play the guitar, finding God, and returning to music and metal. Through all that, he has retained his own vision of what thrash metal should be, and no matter what you may think of some of his output, his relentless pursuit of his muse makes for a very interesting tale.

Of course, before Megadeth, there was Metallica, the band he was thrown out of (at a bus station), for excessive drinking. Now considering that Metallica’s nickname on their rise to fame was Alcoholica, you have to assume that Messrs Hetfield and UIrich just didn’t want to deal with the personality that is Mustaine. Despite platinum success with his own band, Mustaine carried a grudge against Metallica from then on. A grudge he maintained for nigh on quarter of a century. Possibly because Megadeth were always regarded as second best. That is, of course, until Metallica abandoned metal!

However, it’s his personal story that really provides the foundation for this book, as he veers between addiction and rehab and relapses, and back again. Despite the fact that he never comes across as a nice person, it still makes for a good read for those of weaned on eighties metal. Granted, some of the stories may or may not be as Mustaine remembers them. After all, people in the throes of addiction aren’t exactly the most reliable of witnesses, but there is a kernel of truth in every tale, and the whole point of an autobiography is that it’s his story. It’s not anyone else’s, and Mustaine makes damn sure that everyone knows that it’s all about him.

The many lineups of Megadeth are covered, with Mustaine being brutally honest about why people were fired, and why some got more than one chance. And his honesty can’t be questioned after he admits that Marty Friedman’s departure from the band may well have been down to Friedman being a better musician than Mustaine! One thing that that has always come across, through all the arrogance and posturing, is his intelligence, which explains why you find yourself shouting at him from time to time, as he heads down yet another chemical avenue.

The story of his redemption and return to music makes for an unusual ending to a book, as it’s not something you encounter every day in the world of heavy metal. It’s a story well told, and anyone who grew up with thrash metal will find this a thoroughly enjoyable read.

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About Stuart A Hamilton