Megadeth's Dave Mustaine: My Life in 15 Songs

Singer/guitarist reflects on nearly four decades of thrash-metal masterpieces

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"Holy Wars … the Punishment Due"

Rust in Peace (1990)

I think religion is for people who are afraid of going to hell, and spirituality is for people like me who've been there. I don't really write about religion, but I came close with "Holy Wars," being inspired by the Cause [meaning Irish Republicanism]. One time when I was in Ireland, I saw people selling T-shirts in front of a venue and asked what it was about, and he said the Cause. And when the guy told me what it meant, he just said, "Oh, it's just prejudiced religion. One religion thinks it's better than another religion. The Protestants think they're better than the Catholics." And I went, "Well, shit, I don't know if I'm either one of them, but I'm certainly not any one of those two because I don't judge other religions." So at the concert, I introduced a song by saying, "This one's for the Cause" from the stage and [whistles] wrong thing to say. I learned my lesson quick so I don't talk about religion anymore [laughs].

I was really mad about what happened over there so I was really beating my guitar to make that riff come out. That's why it was really fast.

The second part of the song, "The Punishment Due" –  which comes in after the Middle Eastern part – is about Frank Castle from Marvel's The Punisher. We timed that so that part would be at the end, "the could-be messenger of God." There's so many people who act like that. So we tried to make a complete shift and make it really melodic, something really Beatles-esque with that sweeping [guitar] pattern that went back and forth. The chorus was definitely like a Beatles pattern. One of the first music books I ever got was an anthology by the Beatles so I learned so many brilliant chord progressions from those guys. And that's a song that has a lot of chord progressions that they use moving bass lines underneath a chord. 

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