Dave Mustaine Reviews Metallica’s ‘Hardwired…to Self-Destruct’

(Image credit: Tim Mosenfelder/Getty Images)

What does Dave Mustaine think about Metallica’s latest release, Hardwired…to Self-Destruct?

In a new interview with Metal Hammer, the Megadeth frontman shared his thoughts on Metallica’s long-awaited new album, which was released on November 18.

Mustaine was a founding member of Metallica and played lead guitar in the group until he was dismissed in 1983 and replaced with Kirk Hammett. Mustaine went on to achieve great success with Megadeth, and in recent years he’s put his resentment about being fired behind him.

“I’ve always been able to appreciate the talent in Metallica,” Mustaine tells Metal Hammer. “Every band has its strengths and its weaknesses. Personally, from everything I’ve heard so far, I think the new album is a good one.

“I hear that a lot of people have been making comments about Kirk Hammett and [bassist] Rob Trujillo not writing anything on it. But sometimes that’s just unavoidable.

“I guess I would’ve loved more writing from both those guys, because I loved Infectious Grooves and Suicidal Tendencies [Trujillo performed in both] and I always loved the lines Kirk wrote with Exodus, but that’s the way the cookie crumbles when you’re in the studio. The best songs make the cut. Everyone wants to pick the best things.

“When it comes down to critiquing production stuff, it’s kind of a personal thing. One man’s trash is another man’s treasure. For example, I know a lot of people really dig Rick Rubin and the way that he produces stuff.”

Rubin was the producer behind Metallica’s prior album, 2008’s Death Magnetic, which many criticized for being overly compressed and peak limited for maximum volume.

“While I respect Rick tremendously, I do think that what he does with bands like the Cult really works and then when he does stuff with metal bands it doesn’t necessarily translate in the same way,” Mustaine says. “Hardwired is definitely a different-sounding record than, for example, St. Anger, and it sounds pretty good to me. I know it took ’em eight years to make this record so I’m glad for them that people are digging it. It’s a small community, you know?”

Kirk Hammett recently spoke out in support of Mustaine, saying he’s understood the guitarist’s frustration over being fired from Metallica. “I’ve always shown a lot of empathy for him, understanding that he was just pissed off,” Hammett says.

“I mean, It’s the equivalent of the woman of your life leaving you. I mean, really—when your band kicks you out… I’ve never been kicked out, but I can imagine it’s a horrible experience, especially if it’s a band that you feel really passionately about. So I can understand Dave’s plight over all these years.”

In response, Mustaine said he appreciated Hammett’s words, noting, “he is almost 100 percent accurate.”

And while we’re on—or near—the subject of Death Magnetic, Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich recently told Rock City he felt the album was overthought.

“I think Rick Rubin really wanted to push us,” he says “He encouraged us to get crazier and longer and... One of his favorite words that he would always say to me, he’d say, ‘Make it more ridiculous.’

“And so I think Death Magnetic ended up kind of very much... That was kind of the battle cry, the M.O.

“With this record [Hardwired…to Self-Destruct], I think we felt that we wanted to make it a little shorter, a little tighter, make the songwriting less ridiculous, more concise, more lean. I was doing an interview earlier and I said the word for the first time, I said maybe a little more ‘economical.’ So I think this record is more reining it back in. Everything is a little shorter and tighter and so on.

“On Death Magnetic, we spent months—maybe not months, but we had a lot of meetings, a lot of talks, about stuff. This record, there was no meeting. We just showed up and we started playing—no talks, no meetings; it was just like, ‘Let’s go.’

“Listen, I love Rick, and I wouldn’t change anything, but I think with this record, it definitely benefited us just to sort of start playing and kind of just go for it. So things were probably a little bit more organic and things just happened. It was more from the heart rather than from the brain.”

You can watch the whole thing below.

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Christopher Scapelliti

Christopher Scapelliti is editor-in-chief of Guitar Player magazine, the world’s longest-running guitar magazine, founded in 1967. In his extensive career, he has authored in-depth interviews with such guitarists as Pete Townshend, Slash, Billy Corgan, Jack White, Elvis Costello and Todd Rundgren, and audio professionals including Beatles engineers Geoff Emerick and Ken Scott. He is the co-author of Guitar Aficionado: The Collections: The Most Famous, Rare, and Valuable Guitars in the World, a founding editor of Guitar Aficionado magazine, and a former editor with Guitar WorldGuitar for the Practicing Musician and Maximum Guitar. Apart from guitars, he maintains a collection of more than 30 vintage analog synthesizers.