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DAVE MUSTAINE Talks About What Bummed Him Out During The Youthanasia Recording Sessions


When the metal world looks back on the evolution of Megadeth, one album stands out as a significant crossroads: Youthanasia. The record achieved platinum status right out of the gate, a first for the band. However, it seems not all that glitter was gold.

Dave Mustaine has opened up about their collaboration with producer Max Norman during this pivotal period. Norman, renowned for his work with Ozzy Osbourne‘s early solo ventures and his mixing on Megadeth‘s Rust in Peace, and 1992’s hit, Countdown to Extinction, seemed a natural fit for the band’s future records. However, as the years rolled on and the band approached Cryptic Writings in 1997, tensions began to simmer.

In a recent interview with Alejandrosis, Mustaine reminisced about the Youthanasia sessions with Norman, highlighting a notable disagreement. Apparently, things started to turn sour when Norman allegedly pushed the band to slow down their signature thrash style. Known for its fast-paced, high-energy metal, this direction was a significant departure from their established style.

Youthanasia was immediately certified platinum when it came out. That was the first time that happened for us. It wasn’t our first platinum record, but it was the first one that came out of the box platinum, and that was a great accomplishment for us.”

“But there was also some stuff going on on that record I was unhappy about. The producer we were using, Max Norman, thought we should slow all the songs down to 120 beats per minute. So, if you’ve got a metronome when you listen to those songs, they’re all really slow.

“And I didn’t want to have any part in that. At the end of the record, that was the end of our production team. I believe when you do something together, you have to make compromises. But that was just too much. We’re a metal band, you can’t have everything have 120 BPM. It’s, it’s obvious that that’s a radio tempo.”

The impact on the band’s sound wasn’t the only consequence. In a previous conversation with Jeremy White last year, Mustaine delved deeper into the fan reaction, noting the shift in song structure and pace, that eventually led to dissatisfaction in the band’s fanbase.

“And why was that? Well, it was because the songs slowed down and they all started taking on radio track structure. Megadeth didn’t have songs that were based on verse-chorus-solo structure,” Mustaine observed. “It was beginning of the song, talking about a bunch of shit, do a bunch of jam and trading solos, do like yelling at the end and then balls out to the end of the song.”

“It’s kind of like what we were doing then. Then you start thinking verse, chorus, verse, chorus, solo, chorus, out, verse, chorus, verse, chorus, solo, chorus, out… It’s sucking the life out of our creativity.”

Whether Norman’s influence was really to blame for diluting the band’s raw energy, or the pursuit of mainstream appeal was a collective decision that down the line felt like a compromise Megadeth‘s identity, we’ll never know for sure. In hindsight, Youthanasia might be considered a divisive chapter in Megadeth‘s storied career, yet its commercial success cannot be denied.

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