Book Review – Mustaine: A Heavy Metal Memoir by Dave Mustaine

Legions of rock fans everywhere owe a great debt to delinquent and absent fathers whose inability to man-up left the children in their wake full of anger, bitterness, reckless abandon and a desire to take all this out in the form of music.

And sometimes through self-destruction these children make great music, get famous and tumble through life living on the edge of death. And once in a while redemption not only blindsides the star but the fans as well.

Mustaine: A Heavy Metal Memoir (released in 2010) is an entertaining, very raw and yet a self-indulgent account of Megadeth founder and front man Dave Mustaine. Mustaine pulls no punches (and in some of the stories he literally pulls no punches) when it comes to his drug use, alcohol abuse and philandering ways. He also has no problem and almost obsessively explains his side of the story from day one. In one paragraph he may exalt himself, in the next he’ll tear himself apart. Metallica still bothers him and you can see why if what he says is indeed accurate. Metal fans have to wonder what Metallica would be today with Dave Mustaine on-board.

Mustaine (the man) however is a rare breed. Who would have thought the singer/guitarist for the band Megadeth would have ever found faith in Jesus Christ. And then continue with Megadeth! The chapter recounting his conversion is gripping yet somewhat anti-climactic. You’d think a man who lived the stereotypical rock ‘n roll lifestyle, hit bottom multiple times, had anger issues and has spent his life fighting the demons of his childhood would have a story of seeing Jesus.

But he didn’t. His conversion was no more theatrical than most who find God which in hindsight is probably a good thing. After two decades of self-destruction Mustaine finally, in rehab of course, realized he needed help:

I sat there that evening, staring at the flames, thinking about my life…about the choices I’d made and the consequences of those choices, both positive and negative. Something was missing. I can’t do this anymore. This has to be the end of it. – Page 306

Mustaine walked to a nearby chapel, held hands with a chaplain and invited Christ into his life. No doves, no thunder, no vision. Just a simple conversion from a broken man who finally discovered the Truth. He told his estranged wife what happened and she laughed. Not because it was funny but because this already godly woman had friends telling her it would happen.

It’s truly amazing how God works in our lives. Mustaine, like many rockers from the 80s, is very lucky to be alive. He does not re-tell stories of a near-death drug overdose though he clearly had some harrowing close calls. But he abused enough substances (usually at the same time) that would likely kill a weaker man. It’s amazing he ever had the strength to record such great records. (If you’re not a metal fan than you can’t appreciate his music.)

Megadeth lives on and so does Mustaine. Now in his 50s, Megadeth released its 13th album last year aptly titled Thirteen and continues to tour. In Mustaine one cannot miss just how much his sudden departure from Metallica really bothers him even after all these years. Empathetically, it’s certainly understandable how building the foundation of one of the biggest music acts today only to be kicked off stage just as Metallica began its ascendancy into the stratosphere could be the proverbial thorn in his side. I too have felt slighted by people in the course of my lifetime, albeit nothing to the extent of what was done to Mustaine, and I too have wanted to somehow set the record straight, at times hoping for their failure just as Mustaine fastidiously watched for Metallica’s downfall.

Here’s the thing. Christian doctrine understands God to be an all-knowing, omnipresent being who lives out of the confines of time. To put it simply, God already knows the beginning and the end. For example, once you’ve read a book you know the beginning, middle and the end of the characters’ lives and you can return to the book anywhere in the timeline of the book. This is how it is with God in our lives.

In 1986, Metallica’s bassist Cliff Burton died when the band’s tour bus overturned in Sweden. I am not hear to debate why and when God does or does not intervene, but I have to wonder if it’s ever occurred to Mustaine that perhaps he is alive today because he was not on that tour bus.

Instead, God, who knows the pages of our lives, saw that sometime in 2002 the world famous heavy metal guitarist Dave Mustaine would turn to Him. And then in 2010 His child would write about his conversion introducing the Gospel to, what one could argue, an untapped segment of society who desperately needs to hear some Good News.

Written By: AndrewT

Review: Van Halen Improvises Way Through Set

Today’s Van Halen seems more like a cast of characters promptly thrown on stage to see if they can make music together. They certainly look the part and musically it often seemed that way on Saturday night’s performance at the Tacoma Dome in Tacoma, Washington.

The two-hour, 24 song set, which included a guitar and drum solo, was at times the ultimate in hard rock but it often dragged. The band blazed through the first five songs featuring two of their latest “She’s the Woman” and the single “Tattoo” from the album A Different Kind of Truth, released in February, but after that it felt more like watching the band rehearse through songs in preparation for a concert.

Van Halen is on its second go-around with original and iconic singer David Lee Roth who departed the band way back in the 80s. This is also the second time out with Eddie Van Halen’s son Wolfgang who is the ripe old age of 21. Long gone are the hair days of 30 years ago, now gracing the stage for Van Halen is a kid on bass (who was 16 on the last tour), his dad on guitar, his uncle Alex behind drums, and a lead singer who looks more like Liberace.

When Van Halen played in sync they sounded solid and Eddie’s guitar was monstrous. All too often though the band interrupted the flow of music to do what seemed to be an improvised guitar solo for Eddie or Roth simply wanting to slow down the pace and banter with his band mates or the fans. He didn’t pay too much attention to the younger Van Halen nor did the cameras that beamed the stage antics to the crowd on the super-sized viewing screen.

Van Halen started things off with their classic “Unchained” followed by “Runnin’ With the Devil.” Four tracks from Truth made the set list but clearly the majority of the fans were not only there to hear the old stuff but hadn’t even picked up the album.  This truth was evident by the decline in audience participation when the new songs were played and the shameless super-sized advertisement that popped up declaring the album was available at Best Buy.

The show started to unravel with “Everybody Wants Some” as the only lyrics I remember being sung were “Everybody wants some” over and over and over with Eddie seemingly practicing new chords and riffs. Roth forgot his lyrics at one point during the show and let everyone know he had but for the most part he danced the night away.

Alex Van Halen showed his mad skills behind the drums half way through the show with a drum solo that wasn’t overly technical but clearly showed he’s a master of his craft. Eddie launched into his guitar solo arranged around “Eruption” near the end of the evening and even he seemed impressed by his finger-tapping, at one point mouthing “WOW” several times.

Van Halen closed the night with audience favorite “Jump” and, perhaps I’m just a purist, but the keyboards were piped in just like the last tour and that comes across as artificial. Is there no one in the band who can play keyboards? The rhythm is not that hard but, truth be told, except for the big screen and some lighting effects, the band plays with minimal props and little accessories.

Van Halen Tacoma Setlist:

Unchained
Runnin’ With the Devil
She’s the Woman
The Full Bug
Tattoo
Everybody Wants Some
Somebody Get Me a Doctor
China Town
Hear About it Later
Oh, Pretty Woman
Drum Solo
You Really Got Me
The Trouble With Never
Dance the Night Away
I’ll Wait
Hot for Teacher
Women in Love
Outta Love Again
Beautiful Girls
Ice Cream Man
Panama
Guitar Solo
Ain’t Talkin’ ‘Bout Love
Jump

Written By: AndrewT