Dave Mustaine is the only character great enough to have been in both the best thrash bands of all time, Metallica and Megadeth. Throughout the career of the second band, it is obvious that he rules over the beast with a rod of iron, wary of things slipping like they did in his original iconic group. He is a true love-or-hate character, I doubt anyone ever says “Oh, I quite like Mustaine”, but the sell out crowds show that there are plenty of lovers and the message boards, or magazine letter pages for us older readers, are full of those who love to hate him. He’s a rock star, a proper bona fide rock star with all the magic and misery that can come with that title. And there is a lot of these things in Rust In Peace, an in depth look at the iconic album of the same name, which somehow is celebrating its thirtieth anniversary, it seems only yesterday that me and Duncan Sheehan went down to HMV and picked up the cassette and played that sucker until it was tissue paper thin. Incredible.
As well as a great personality, Mustaine is also a great story teller. Here, he recalls everything, warts and all, about the making of the record, its release and massive success and the aftermath. This story has everything, dark days of heroin addiction, bright days of marriage in Hawaii, band members coming, going, getting high, getting low, it is an absolute rollercoaster and told truthfully, Mustaine does not pull his punches, sometimes in a quite literal sense.
Of course, there is a worry that such a book is just one person’s view of things and how opinions and likes can change and morph over time. What seemed funny when high and drunk can now seem shallow and dumb, but if you’re worried that Mustaine might throw his band mates under the bus with too much truth, the book has a remedy for this.
Like my favourite Classic Rock features, the book takes on a conversational tone, as if you are listening to Mustaine tell the record’s tale, but with the other players also chipping in. Yes, the name on the front might be Dave’s but the book features regular interjections from Junior (David Ellefson’s pet name, to differentiate from the other Dave), Marty Friedman and Nick Menza, all of whom have been loved and loathed by the author down the years. Basically you can feel the love between the two Daves, it almost sounds like brothers, forever warring, but if you turn against either, the other will always step up. Friedman and Menza are a different story. Friedman, especially, has his words used to hang himself, often coming across as egotistical (In a MUSTAINE book, right?) and money grabbing and feeling he is bigger and better than the band he found fame with. These disappointing portions are always followed immediately by Mustaine arguing his side and it always seems, once again, that Megadeth is Dave’s baby and you’d better not step in the way of its growth. Menza on the other hand, seems excited by his time in the band and is spoken of positively often, though this might be a don’t-speak-ill-of-the-dead situation, as he certainly made some mistakes during the making of this album and the attempts to get the classic line up back together years later were shattered by his inability to stay clean. It’s great to hear from Menza though, sadly lost years before his time.
Rust In Peace is the exciting story of one of the best thrash albums of all time, you take a seat in the Megadeth rollercoaster and live through all the ups and downs of its creation, release and success. The greatest tribute that I can pay to Mustaine’s excellent new book is that the second I finished it, I got out my vinyl and gave the record another spin with a new perspective. It’s still a five star record and now, thanks to the storytelling of Dave Mustaine, we have a five star book to go alongside it.