Were you front and center to the war between glam metal and thrash metal? Dave Mustaine was and he’s here to tell you why you’re wrong about what you think about the war of the 80’s.
Dave Mustaine, the iconic figure at the helm of Megadeth and an early member of Metallica, had a front-row seat to this intense rivalry. As his band unleashed thrash metal masterpieces like “Peace Sells…But Who’s Buying” and “Rust in Peace” during the late ’80s and early ’90s, a period widely regarded as the apex of both genres, Mustaine witnessed firsthand the musical landscape and the splintered factions it birthed.
Reflecting on that era, Mustaine recently shared his perspective with Heavy Consequence, revealing that the dichotomy between glam and thrash may not have been as stark as initially perceived. “Metal had so many different factions and splinters that had taken place in the very beginning,” he mused. “We were all heavy metal.” The labels and subgenres arose to satisfy the need for differentiation and self-expression: power metal, speed metal, black metal, white metal, death metal, outlaw metal, grind metal, and even punk metal.
According to Consequence – Mustaine’s insights shed light on the evolution of metal as a qualifier, representing the heaviness of music regardless of its original genre. He raised intriguing questions about how bands such as Blink-182, Green Day, and Pearl Jam are sometimes labeled as alternative metal when they are fundamentally pop bands. He challenged the notion that “pop” is inherently derogatory, reminding us that it signifies popularity. Megadeth’s album “Countdown to Extinction,” for example, achieved triple platinum status and could be considered a “pop album” by that definition.
Delving further into the discussion, Mustaine drew parallels between thrash and glam, pointing out the commonalities between Metallica and Mötley Crüe. The first two albums by Mötley Crüe, such as “Too Fast for Love,” contained tracks that exhibited a metal edge, featuring fast-paced right-hand picking reminiscent of what James Hetfield and Mustaine were doing in Metallica. The vocal ranges of Vince Neil and James Hetfield also bore striking similarities.
He stated: “When you take a band that is dressing up, wearing high heels, wearing leather, wearing makeup, using hairspray, belts and chains and big hoop earrings and jewelry and fingernails painted and stuff like that, and start getting way into mascara, lipstick, foundation, all that kinda sh*t, that’s somebody’s impression of what a rock star is supposed to look like. I promise you, if you go up to a guy who’s dressed up like that, who has that kind of an image, and, and you say, ‘What is this image that you’re going for? What would it be described as?’ They would say they’re a rock star. And I think if you go to a little kid and you said, ‘What is this?’ They would say, ‘You’re a rock star.’ Not that ‘You’re glam.’”
Mustaine posed an intriguing scenario, suggesting that if Metallica had recorded those songs, they would have emerged as heavy as ever. He acknowledged that glam bands adorned themselves with leather, makeup, and flamboyant attire, but emphasized that these were merely manifestations of their rock star aspirations. The image they projected was a product of their perception of what a rock star should look like, not necessarily a deliberate glam aesthetic.
In essence, Mustaine’s insights challenge our preconceived notions about the dichotomy between thrash and glam. They remind us that beneath the surface, there existed a common thread of heavy metal that wove its way through both genres. The lines that appeared so rigid at the time now blur as we explore the intricacies and shared elements that defined an era.