Dave Mustaine on Kirk Hammett: ‘I Don’t Think He’s Gotten Any Better or Worse As a Player’

Kirk Hammett: Sepguilherme, CC BY-SA 3.0, Wikimedia Commons / Dave Mustaine: Medios y Media/Getty Images
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While Dave Mustaine has said that his beef with Metallica is a thing of the past, the Megadeth frontman has been known to throw a passive-aggressive jab or two at the band from time to time. Recently, Mustaine found himself being asked about Kirk Hammett‘s guitar playing, and while he did say some good things about the Metallica guitarist, he did so in an interesting manner.

At one point during a new chat with Guitar World, the frontman was asked if he feels the recent “flak” Kirk Hammett has received for his solos is “fair”? In response to this, Mustaine talks about how he’s “unfairly” poked fun at Hammett in the past and that he’s a “good” guitar player.

But also, when it comes to Hammett’s past performances on Metallica’s Kill ‘Em All and Ride the Lighting, Mustaine says that Hammett did him “an honor by trying to play my solos on those early songs the way he did.” Regarding whether he feels the flak Hammett has received is fair, Mustaine says:

“It depends on which solos you’re talking about [laughs]. Jokes aside, I’ve always kind of poked fun at Kirk. And unfairly so, as he never did anything to me. Whenever I felt singled out, picked on, or antagonized by James [Hetfield] or Lars [Ulrich], it was really easy to pick on Kirk. But the truth is Kirk did me an honor by trying to play my solos on those early songs the way he did.”

When asked to elaborate, Mustaine offers the following:

“Well, I think that some people would have just started over again. So, I thought it was honorable that Kirk took my solos and did his best to play them as I did. That couldn’t have been easy. But as far as his new solos on the new Metallica album, I haven’t heard them, so I can’t comment. But I will say that I think it’s sad how quickly some people can turn on people.

“There was a time when Kirk won every guitar contest in the world, and I don’t think he’s gotten any better or worse as a player. He’s always been really good. Kirk was a good player when he was in Exodus. And he’s been steady the entire time he’s been in Metallica. But does that mean Kirk Hammett is Dave Mustaine? No. And is Dave Mustaine Kirk Hammett? Also, no.”

What do you make of these points Dave Mustaine has expressed about Kirk Hammett’s guitar playing? In the past, Mustaine has expressed anger over Metallica using guitar parts of his on their albums, but now it seems he’s changed his perspective on the matter (albeit, slightly). Prior to him talking about Hammett, Mustaine is asked if he’s heard the new Metallica album yet. Regarding whether he has or hasn’t heard the record yet, the Megadeth frontman says:

“No, I have not heard Metallica’s latest record. But there was a time around 20 years ago when we were not being friendly toward each other when I couldn’t listen to their music when it came on the radio. But none of that bothers me anymore, and it’s not why I haven’t heard the record, especially after the Big Four thing that we did. I really think we should do that again.”