Tales from the Jugular

Megadeth Vs Metallica

By: Eric Compton, Frank Hill, Troy Cole
Published: Monday, May 29, 2006
Tales From The Jugular - Megadeth Vs Metallica

Yeah, yeah, yeah....we have all heard it time and time again. Dave Mustaine and his sidekick Vic Rattlehead versus the hordes and hordes of Metallica hopefulls. Rarely do we at Maximum Metal get into any sort of debate, but for the last few days myself, Frank Hill, and 1Evi1 have been quietly pondering the age old comparison of Metallica and Megadeth. This really didn't start out to be any sort of debate or argument, just a few simple emails that sort of sum up each of our opinions on the subject. This really isn't a conversation that has any real point or social value, just a brief discussion of the two camps and their personal impact on each of us. This email was simply started as a "I was listening the other day..." and sort of ventured into a three way discussion. Below is that simple discussion for you, our beloved reader, to read over and ponder.


EC to Troy Cole - I had no idea you liked Megadeth's "Youthanasia" so much. For some reason, I was under the impression you would pick "Cryptic Writings" as your number one album from Megadeth. You know I was playing "Countdown To Extinction" Friday night. Over time that may creep into the number one CD spot for me. Mid-era Megadeth is light years ahead of Metallica in my opinion. "Ashes In Your Mouth" and "Architecture Of Aggression" are just amazing! Megadeth seems much more "cutting edge" than Metallica ever was, but in a live enviroment Metallica probably had them beat. Max Norman's production on the Megadeth stuff is just massive!

Troy Cole - Are you being serious or sarcastic thinking I would pick "Cryptic"? I like it a lot but you could also tell that something was awry in the band to start making their music more accessible. I knew something like "Risk" would be on its way and the re-master set that Dave put out explains a lot of what was going on at the time which is very interesting. As far as the Metallica comparison I completely agree. I can only think that marketing was the big thing that put Metallica ahead of Megadeth, back then it just seemed Capitol didn't have as good of a marketing strategy as Elektra. Didn't Elektra have more metal bands on their label where as Capitol had a very mixed representation? Maybe they just couldn't handle the beast.

Frank Hill - I think that Metallica had more straightforward melodies and hooks whereas early Megadeth took a little more work to get to know.

EC - Early Megadeth is unlistenable to me personally. I get no satisfaction out of "Peace Sells", "So Far...", or "Killing Is My Business". Horrible stuff in my ears. Mustaine's voice on those records sounds like the Fivel mouse on "American Tail". THE Megadeth sound came together with Dave, Dave, Marty, and Nick. Perfect chemistry together and with producer Max Norman. "Rust In Peace" is really strong, but falls a bit short though. The opener on there really gets me going. Reminds me of the Punisher comic for some reason...."they killed my wife and my baby, with hopes to enslave me, first mistake, no more mistakes" or something to that effect.

Early Megadeth is just drunk drug chaos. Obviously Dave was on meds throughout "Rust In Peace" and "Countdown", but it was more focused. He was just angry. You can look at the same attitude with Jon on Iced Earth's "Burnt Offerings" record. He was angry at Century Media and thus their best work. Melody-wise I think you won't find a band out there that has more melody than "Youthanasia" era Megadeth. Huge leads, huge hooks, tons of leads and melodic vocal lines. That was the "Dokken" album for Megadeth. I just don't hear something like "Harvester Of Sorrows" with it's huge groove/stomp riff matching up with Megadeth's "Train Of Consequences".

Megadeth is the superior band in terms of melody, songwriting, tight precision, production, energy, and studio sound. Metallica on the other end will win the live contest. "Youthanasia" had so much melody that they really turned into an AOR styled rock band on "Cryptic Writings". Just listen to "Secret Place". If you didn't know it that could have been White Lion, Dokken, TNT, or even Euro-tuxedo bands like Vandenburg or Gotthard.

Troy Cole - I agree with both of you mostly on this. I wouldn't say early Megadeth was unlistenable though, I mean I can see your point maybe with "Killing..." but all the albums after that had better production and mastering and when you listen to the re-master of "Killing..." it sounds completely different. It shows what it could have sounded like if the band wouldn't have blown 3/4 of its budget on drugs. Songs such as IN MY DARKEST HOUR and PEACE SELLS were very listenable on their own. If you listen to several bands from that time period I can agree that it's Mustaine's vocals (or lack there of) that set them apart because most American Metal had poor production then and a lot of the metal was as EC would say "meat head".

One of the things I really like about Megadeth is the fact it's not as straightforward like Frank Hill was saying about Metallica. When I listen to "Youth..." or "Countdown..." I always pick up on stuff that I never heard before or maybe a rhythm or lead that is kind of buried in the song will jump out at me. I don't get that from Metallica and I think that makes their appeal greater to the masses such as the case with Nu Metal. Anger seems to somehow really influence a band, odd how you can be so angry and produce such great music. I guess it just gets more emotion put into it than say, sitting down to write an album based on Spawn when it's not even your creation.

Frank Hill - Here's what I think is the main difference is between early Megadeth vs Metallica: Both had lead melodies. Both had lots of riffs. Both had sing-along choruses. Megadeth melodies are simply more discordant (def: disagreeable in sound; inharmonious, harsh or dissonant) and a little harder for your ear to initially grasp. Take the opening lead from "Ride the Lightning" and compare it to the guitar tone of the lead riff right after the opening bassline in "Peace Sells" and one of the opening slow riffs from "In MY Darkest Hour". All are descending riffs (high tone to lower tone) but I think the Metallica tone is a bit cleaner (so is Hetfield's vocals over Daves). It's a subtle, but significant difference. Metallica is easier to grasp on first listen. Megadeth you have to grow or get used to. Bands like Soundgarden are closer to Megadeth with their dissonant lead melodies. The new In Flames is closer to Metallica with its highly accessible leads.

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