Many thanks to Umlaut for providing me with this curio. It’s a two-song demo from early 1983 — see full details here — Metallica’s first recording with Cliff Burton, and the only recording featuring both Burton and Dave Mustaine. You can download it here.
When Umlaut sent me the link, he said, “It’s interesting… always sparks a debate about whether Mustaine was ‘better’ for Metallica than Kirk… but hindsight is 20/20.” Honestly, that issue has never crossed my mind. Megadave’s personality was too big for Metallica. There’s no way the band would have lasted as long or found the success it did if he had stayed.
Plus, this demo shows that at the time, they didn’t lose much by dropping him. It’s unfair to compare a demo to a produced recording, but, still, the differences are worth noting. Let’s take “No Remorse,” which has solos at the beginning and a little after three minutes in. Mustaine’s solos don’t really say anything, whereas Hammett’s have fluidity and direction. Interestingly, Hammett’s second solo builds off of Mustaine’s ideas. I wouldn’t change a thing about it, though it is interesting to hear this alternate universe version.