Cast your minds back to a time when metal music was not cool. Nay, indeed, a time when metal was anathema to all that was considered to be “chic” and “in.” A time when your favorite bands were actually encouraged by the music industry to play slower, cut their hair, and write sensitive lyrics about their childhoods. Yes, this unfortunately really happened.
Our new semi-irregular feature “90s Metal Weirdness” focuses on albums released between 1992 and 2001 and which we all probably would rather forget. But in the public service of publicly shaming the musicians involved, we have pushed forward. — AMG
MD.45: “The Craving” (1996)
The Back Story: Somewhere after Megadeth got shitty, but before they got real shitty, Dave Mustaine decided to do a punk/metal side project. Thrash guys grasping for punk cred was not uncommon in the mid-‘90s (remember Slayer’s Undisputed Attitude? [Why must you remind me!? – AMG]), but Mustaine had already walked the walk for years. Megadeth had covered the Sex Pistols before it was cool to do so, and Mustaine’s drugged-out, assholish behavior pretty much made him an honorary punk rocker anyways.
Interestingly, Mustaine chose not to sing for this project, and enlisted Lee Ving from L.A. punk legends Fear to handle the mic. I thought this was an interesting choice because I enjoyed Fear’s one good album, The Record, and Ving couldn’t possibly sound more different than Mustaine. However, given that MD.45’s main draw was their connection to Megadeth, Ving’s involvement probably alienated every single person in the world who might have bought this album.
What Does It Sound Like: Musically, this is a weird one. Mustaine’s fingerprints are all over this, although the riffs and music are much more streamlined than most Megadeth stuff. Ving sounds like he’s singing through a mouthful of corned beef and chewing tobacco on the entire album. The overall effect is something like Megadeth doing Motorhead or Sex Pistols, with a different singer.
And you know what? Letting Mustaine hog the guitar playing actually yields some cool results. The riffs here are pretty creative for their simplicity, and there’s all kinds of tasty guitar bits here that would never have gotten on a Megadeth record (check out that surf part in “Fight Hate”). And if letting him play more guitar will keep him away from the microphone, I’m OK with that.
Are There Any Songs About Molestation? Nah. The lyrics here are pretty hands-off for the most part. “My Town” is basically Ving reading a list of cities, and “The Day the Music Died” is a bitchfest about the music industry.
Stupid Political Lyrics? “Designer Behavior” name-drops the Stepford Wives, “I Love Lucy” and “Ozzie & Harriet” (?!!)
Is There Any Rapping On The Album? No, but there is yodeling. And harmonica.
Were Haircuts Involved? Somewhere in Dave Mustaine’s attic, there is a portrait of him with the shortest, fruitiest haircut you can imagine.
How Bad Was It Really? It’s not that great, but parts of it are kinda cool. “The Creed” is probably the highlight track here. If you would rather hear anybody other than Dave Mustaine sing, this might be for you.
The Aftermath: MD.45 was pretty much dead on arrival. The band never played a single concert, and The Craving is their only album. Besides my younger brother, I’ve never met a single person who owns this album. MD.45 drummer Jimmy DeGrasso ended up joining Megadeth, just in time for career highlight Risk. More recently, Capitol Records rereleased The Craving… with Mustaine replacing Ving’s vocals with his own. This version of the album did not exactly set the charts on fire either. (Oddly, Mustaine seems to think this album would have done better under the Megadeth banner, while using the exact opposite excuse for the failure of Risk. (What a douchebag). Anyhow, Mustaine never spoke of MD.45 or punk rock again.