w/ Into Eternity, The Smash Up
Wed. Oct. 4
8 p.m.
$32.50 ($27 adv.)
The Plex
2390 W. Aviation Ave.

“The people I’m playing with right now are very passionate about what they do and it’s just really, really exciting for me,” says Megadeth guitarist/singer Dave Mustaine, who obviously has no shortage of enthusiasm for the revamped version of his band … and his opportunity to rock once again.

That Mustaine even has a chance to rock with passion in Megadeth comes as a welcome surprise to his fans. Not long ago, it appeared that Megadeth was finished once and for all — and that Mustaine might not even have a future in music. In Jan. 2002, he fell asleep awkwardly on his left arm and inadvertently compressed a nerve. The damage was so severe that his arm went numb. Facing a year of rehab and physical therapy, with no guarantee that he would ever be able to again play guitar, Mustaine disbanded Megadeth, the group he formed in 1983 after he was booted from Metallica following a two-year stint in that then-fledgling band. Diligent rehab gave Mustaine use of his arm, allowing him to return Megadeth to active duty. But that represents a change of plans.

Mustaine intended to have the most recent Megadeth album, The System Has Failed, be his first solo record. But he still owed an album under Megadeth’s record contract, so the disc was released under the Megadeth banner, even though the collection was recorded without any of the other musicians who were in the Megadeth lineup in 2001.

The System Has Failed sounded more like an early Megadeth album than anything the band did in the late ’90s when the group (which at the time included bassist David Ellefson, guitarist Marty Friedman, and drummer Jimmy DeGrasso) pursued a more melodic and radio-friendly direction — against Mustaine’s own instincts.

“The record company, the management, and Marty Friedman were demanding that it be that way,” Mustaine says. “And in order to be a good leader, sometimes when somebody wants to do something and you know it’s not going to be good, you’ve got to let them do it. It’s like when a kid wants to stick his tongue in a light socket, you know he’s going to end up with an Afro, but you just have to say ‘You know what, I told you so.’ And if they don’t listen, then maybe they’ll learn.”

Now Mustaine has set aside his plans to go solo. He is fronting Megadeth this fall as the latest version of the classic U.S. metal group — guitarist Glen Drover, bassist James LoMenzo, and drummer Sean Drover — headline the second edition of its metal festival, Gigantour 2006.

What’s more, a new Megadeth album titled United Abominations is well under way and should be out next spring. It will be the first release under a new contract with Roadrunner Records.

Considering Mustaine’s satisfaction with The System Has Failed, chances are United Abominations will continue down a similar heavy and noisy path.

“I put my heart and soul into this last record, and the critics and the fans have said this record is better than any record for years that we’ve put out,” says the bandleader. “I’m happy to hear that, and I believe it, too.”

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