Megadeath (lost Megadeth demo tape; 1983)

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Megadeth performing in 1984.

Status: Lost

Megadeth is often considered one of the most influential metal bands of all time. Founded in 1983 by former Metallica lead guitarist Dave Mustaine and bass guitarist David Ellefson, the band went on to become part of the "Big Four" of American thrash metal, alongside Metallica, Slayer and Anthrax.

Having played a big role in Metallica's early songwriting, Mustaine quickly composed a handful of songs when Megadeth first started. These songs were eventually recorded as part of a limited release demo tape, but weren't heard by the public until the band started touring in 1984. This demo tape has never been publicly available, likely because its contents were considered too rough to warrant a proper release.


Since the beginning of his career, Dave Mustaine had proven to be a talented, yet difficult to work with guitarist. The short period he spent with Metallica was deemed difficult due to numerous internal conflicts related to his behaviour, often influenced by his use of alcohol and drugs, eventually leading to him being fired from the band twice in 1982 and 1983.[1] To make the situation worse, Metallica used riffs that Mustaine allegedly composed on their debut album Kill 'Em All, recorded almost immediately after his departure. This resulted in Mustaine, seeking to take revenge on Metallica, going on to form a band that would be "faster and heavier" than them.[2]

The band at this point was still called 'Megadeath'. Mustaine, much like his ex-bandmate James Hetfield, was initially looking for a vocalist as he wanted to focus on his guitar playing – a plan he aborted six months later, taking vocal duties for himself.[3] Along with Mustaine's now longtime friend David Ellefson, the band also included Greg Handevidt on rhythm guitar and Richard Girod on drumming detail, both of whom were expelled shortly after recording the group's first demo.

The Tape

“It'll take everything they fuckin' have just to keep up with us!” – MUSTAINE, David.

Not much is known about the tape itself. The unknown exact number of copies and whereabouts of them make this a difficult item to track, an impression reinforced by the fact that Megadeth released a later demo, titled Last Rites, as part of a reissue of their 1985 debut album Killing Is My Business... and Business Is Good!, but still left the 1983 demo unreleased, suggesting that even the band members might not possess any copies.

The only source of information on it is an article written by fanzine editor and photographer Brian Lew for his publication Whiplash!, in which Megadeath is introduced as a potential candidate to the title of "the new band of 1983", an impression based on the demo recordings provided by the band. The article mentions the following songs:

  • "No Time" – The lyrical theme mentioned by Lew suggests this is the original version of "Set the World Afire", the first song written by Dave Mustaine after his departure from Metallica, released on Megadeth's 1988 effort So Far, So Good... So What!.
  • "Self Destruct" – Although David Ellefson claims this eventually became "The Skull Beneath the Skin",[4] featured on Killing Is My Business... and Business Is Good!, Lew's lyrical description clearly refers to "Mary Jane", also from So Far, So Good... So What!.
  • "Speak No Evil" – According to Ellefson, the original version of "Looking Down the Cross",[4] from Killing Is My Business... and Business Is Good!.

Other songs mentioned but yet unknown include "Hair Pin Trigger", "Eye for Eye" and "Heaven Knows".


  1. McIver, Joel (2009). To Live Is to Die: The Life and Death of Metallica's Cliff Burton. Omnibus Press. p. 73. ISBN 978-1-906002-24-4.
  2. Wagner, Jeff (2010). Mean Deviation: Four Decades of Progressive Heavy Metal. Bazillion Points Books. p. 42. ISBN 0-9796163-3-6.
  3. Prown, Pete; Newquist, Harvey P., eds. (1997). Legends of Rock Guitar: The Essential Reference of Rock's Greatest Guitarists. Hal Leonard Corporation. p. 227. ISBN 0-7935-4042-9.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Ellefson, David (2013). My Life with Deth: Discovering Meaning in a Life of Rock & Roll. Simon & Schuster. p. 46. ISBN 1-4516-9988-3.