The tour lineup includes all sides of the metal spectrum.
By JOHN BENSON
Dismissed by Metallica over 20 years ago, addicted to heroin over 10 years ago and most recently injured by compressed nerves in his arm that prevented him from playing the guitar, Megadeth visionary Dave Mustaine has experienced his share of trials and tribulations. Still, the thrash/speed metal guitarist has the tenacity of a warrior.
"Knowing the Dave Mustaine that everybody else knows, being a fighter, being someone who has had insurmountable odds stacked against himself and having had so many diverse situations happen and to still come out fighting, there's no way that person would surprise me by being to able to overcome this [physical] setback," said Mustaine, calling from a tour stop in Texas. "I look at [the experience] as a gift. It was pretty necessary for me to look at my life, my situation, and this is probably the only way I would take the time to reevaluate things. And it made me a better person. It made me play better and be more considerate of my family and my work environment."
While he may be humbled by life with a new perspective, don't think for a second that Mustaine has lightened up. In fact, if anything, Mustaine's anger is more precise, his musicality more fierce. Megadeth's most recent album, "The System has Failed," is a quintessential release from this '80s/'90s metal act, complete with harsh guitars, menacing vocals and political lyrics.
Following the release of the new album, which initially was slated as a Mustaine solo project, the California native decided to create his own metal tour of sorts based on the European style of diversity.
So joining Megadeth on the inaugural Gigantour outing, which plays Cleveland Sunday at Tower City Amphitheater and Pittsburgh Wednesday at the Chevrolet Amphitheatre at Station Square. Its lineup spans the metal genre, including Dream Theater, Symphony X, Nevermore, Fear Factory, Life of Agony (Pittsburgh only), BobaFlex and Dillinger Escape Plan.
"Everybody plays a little bit different," Mustaine said. "The diversity of all of the bands brings so much to this package. For me, getting a band as diversified as Symphony X and Dream Theater ... these are two great bands who play progressive and very different music than what we play in Megadeth. But it all fits because there is something there that is a common thread."
Invariably, the common thread is an unrelenting metal style, which has become fashionable over the past few years. As Megadeth enjoys a resurgence of sorts, it's a bittersweet time for Mustaine, who has watched the outfit's recently-released greatest hits album "Greatest Hits: Back to the Start" outsell "The System has Failed" by a large margin.
Success over stress
Adding stress to the situation is the fact the 43-year-old musician feels it's his best work since 1992's "Countdown to Extinction," which with double-platinum record sales took Megadeth to the mainstream.
Proving he's a changed man, Mustaine points out that when that particular album reached No. 2 on the charts, stuck behind Billy Ray Cyrus' "Achy Breaky Heart," he was obsessed with getting the No 1. spot instead of enjoying the success. Today, the musician is relishing the opportunity to create and perform music, something he wasn't sure was ever going to happen again.
As for the future of Megadeth, that's pretty obvious.
"If almost losing my hand couldn't keep me down," Mustaine said, "I think it's safe to say there is going to be some more music."