Slayer’s Kerry King Claims Dave Mustaine’s Style ‘Helped Metallica Become What They Are’

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Slayer's Kerry King Claims Dave Mustaine's Style 'Helped Metallica Become What They Are'
(images: Mike Lewis/Scott Dudelson/Richard Rodriguez)

Slayer guitarist Kerry King has talked about his tenure with Dave Mustaine‘s Megadeth, also touching on Mustaine‘s former band Metallica, saying the guitarist’s style helped Metallica become what they are.

Dave Mustaine is known for being the guitarist, singer and founder of his heavy metal band Megadeth. Debuted with his band’s Killing Is My Business… and Business Is Good! in 1985, Dave Mustaine performed in every one of Megadeth’s albums.

Before Megadeth, he was a member of Metallica from 1982 to 1983. Even though he has not released studio albums with Metallica, he contributed to the band’s demo No Life ‘Til Leather, co-wrote four tracks for Kill ‘Em All, co-wrote two tracks for Ride The Lightning, and the compilation album Cliff ‘Em All.

In April of 1984, Slayer man Kerry King had joined Megadeth for several shows. His tenure occurred just a few months after the release of his band Slayer‘s debut studio album. During the shows, King was offered to join Megadeth as a full-time member. At the time, King had rejected Mustaine because he was at the beginning of his career with Slayer.

However, during a recent interview with Metal Hammer, Kerry King recalled his short stint with Megadeth. He also claimed a fact that can be discussed. According to him, at the beginning of their career, Dave Mustaine was the person who helped Metallica become what Metallica is. When the interviewer asked, “Did you have any sense then that Dave Mustaine was resentful towards Metallica?”, King said:

“Probably. But I looked up to Mustaine ever since he was in Metallica. I was in the crowd with Jeff [Hanneman, Slayer’s late lead guitarist] actually, saying, ‘Look at that dude! He’s just ripping up there!’

“He’s got a great style and in the beginning, it helped Metallica become what Metallica is. And let me tell you something – to this day, he’s a great guitar player.

“But yeah, I played five shows, and then Dave wanted me to stay around, but I didn’t have any reason to stay around because I had Slayer.

“I remember having a conversation with him and saying like, ‘Yeah, but we have all this dark stuff,’ and Mustaine saying something like, ‘Well, we’ve got this song, it’s pretty Satanic.’

“And I was like, ‘At the end of the day, dude, it ain’t about that. I came to play with you. I think it went spectacularly well but it’s time for me to get back to my band.'”

Kerry King Answers Why Metallica Reached Huge Success

Kerry King then was asked about the biggest factor in Metallica‘s success. Touching on the band’s melodies and great harmonies, he compared Metallica‘s sound to his band Slayer. According to the 57-year-old guitarist, Metallica‘s tones are easier than Slayer‘s darker tones and darker lyrical vision.

“They were probably the best with melody, be it vocal or guitar harmonies,” he continues.

“Sure, we had guitar harmonies but they were still on the darker side, whereas with Metallica, it was more – I don’t want to cheapen it by saying this – but it’s more everyman’s music.

“Like I said, I don’t mean that in a cheap way; it’s easier to get into for people than Slayer’s darker tones and darker lyrical vision.

“Metallica wrote stuff that anybody could like without going, ‘Why am I liking this?’ or, ‘Is it OK to like this?’ Whereas people have probably asked themselves about us for decades, ‘Is it OK to like Slayer?’ [Laughs]”

Elsewhere in the interview, Kerry King has also looked back on his first seeing Metallica. Recalling the late ’90s, it was the time Metallica played at The Woodstock Concert Theatre in Anaheim.

“I saw them in the Woodstock [The Woodstock Concert Theatre in Anaheim, California] before they were a Bay Area band,” King answers. “I saw them play with Dave Mustaine – that’s how long we’re talking about.

“Actually meeting the dudes? I don’t know. But we did play with them a time or two before they went to the Bay Area.”

Back in this past September, Kerry King had shared his honest opinion on Metallica’s Black Album. According to him, The Black Album is pretty heavy.

“I may not have been super-stoked on it, but I never hated it the way a lot of people did,” King says. “To this day, I like that record a lot. I think it’s Metallica but I don’t think it’s thrash Metallica.

“You can hear where all the influences come from, from all of their older stuff. They just super-slowed it down and made it super-heavy; they made it super-catchy.

“That record probably sold more than all of my records combined. [Laughs] There was so much grief over that when it came out.

“And to be honest with you, everything that came out after that for a long time, that’s what I have a problem with.

“But The Black Album? It’s still heavy. It’s got some fast stuff on it.”

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