The rivalry between Metallica and Megadeth is the stuff of legend. Both bands pushed the boundaries of thrash-metal and became legendary in their own way. But what was it like for Megadeth's members, especially the band's former guitarist Chris Poland, to hear their then-rivals reach new heights with Master of Puppets?
In a recent podcast interview with Disturbing the Priest Podcast, Poland revealed the surprising story about his initial reaction to Master of Puppets. Released just as Megadeth was wrapping up their own influential sophomore album, Peace Sells… But Who's Buying?, Master of Puppets apparently had a profound impact on Poland, albeit not a positive one.
"I remember when we made that record, Peace Sells, and that's when I first heard Master Of Puppets. And I was so bummed out I never listened to Peace Sells again," confessed Poland.
The impact of Master of Puppets was so significant that it took Poland nearly two decades, until the album's 2004 remaster, to rediscover the greatness of Peace Sells: "And then Dave took those records and redid them, and then I listened to it, and I was like, 'Yeah, I like this.'"
Beyond the impact of the music, Poland also touched on the awkwardness of encountering his former Metallica bandmates during those early years. He expressed uncertainty about whether interacting with them was acceptable in Dave Mustaine's eyes, leading to a period of hesitation and missed opportunities to reconnect. Ultimately, he decided to break the ice and approach them.
"I wasn't sure if I should talk to those guys. Because I'd see them at gigs — they were at a gig we did in San Francisco at the Stone and I didn't know if I should go talk to them or not. And then I've always had this weird vibe — if I saw them, should I talk to them? Should I not talk to them? Finally, I just said, 'Fuck it. I'm just going to go to the bus.'"
Poland also shared a humorous anecdote about his bandmate, the late drummer Gar Samuelson. During a tour, Samuelson deliberately teased Dave Mustaine with a Metallica centerfold from Rip Magazine, jokingly implying that Mustaine's personality was the only reason he wasn't in the band.
"Gar is sitting there and Gar always had a lit cigarette. And the cigarette is hanging out of his mouth and he's reading Rip Magazine – Lonn Friend's magazine. And the centerfold is Metallica. Gar is smoking a cigarette, and he goes, 'Hey Dave, check this out,' and he opens it up and shows him the centerfold. And he goes, 'Dude, if you weren't such an asshole, you'd be in this band.'"
Poland went on to have a successful career, veering away from metal in many of his endeavors, yet contributing to Megadeth as a session musician on two separate occasions, while also collaborating with bands like Lamb of God, Damn the Machine, and forming the jazz/rock/fusion trio OHM, which coincidentally also featured another former Megadeth member, the late drummer Nick Menza.