Greg Prato for Ultimate Guitar spoke with former Megadeth bassist Dave Ellefson, where the bassist discussed the early days of thrash metal.

Ultimate Guitar: You were a part of the scene when thrash metal was being defined. What did you think of the other bands like Slayer and Metallica, and what impressed you about them?

Dave Ellefson: Metallica just had a great sound out of the gate. The first thing I ever heard was No Life ‘Til Leather. I remember going to Dave‘s [Mustaine] apartment and he was playing it one day while he was doing the dishes or making lunch or something. There was something just so haunting and dark, yet rowdy and fun about it, that I just loved.

To me, the Kill ‘Em All record is a very different record, even though it’s the same songs. It’s a very different sound, it’s a very different migration toward where they were going. That still is my favorite Metallica release, the No Life ‘Til Leather demo…Anthrax, of course, had a sound that, even though they went from Neil Turbin and Dan Lilker over to Joey [Belladonna] and Frank and other members, they’ve maintained it. I guess Scott [Ian] and Charlie [Benante] sort of maintained that sound, probably the same way James [Hetfield] and Lars [Ulrich] did. And I’d like to think probably in the same way Dave and I did through all the transitions of Megadeth through the years.

I also liked other bands like Nuclear Assault. I loved the S.O.D. record that those guys made [Speak English or Die]. the early Overkill stuff was great, early Exodus. There was a lot of other stuff that was around that was really good. The Big 4 — we get all the press and stage time, but I always said if you added Overkill and Exodus, there would be your Big 6. One from the east and one from the west.

I think more than anything, it was the aggression. You look out west where we were. There was Hirax, Abattoir, Agent Steel, Dark Angel. There was other stuff brewing around Southern California, too, that was real good, and for whatever reason, didn’t get the traction to go up into the big, big leagues like some of the rest of us did. But those were cool bands. They had cool ideas. They all had their own spin on it.

One Response

  1. I can see where Ellefson is coming from. My favorite AC/DC album is High Voltage (American version). They had better albums than that but it was my introduction.

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