Megadeth’s “Bluegrass” Song “The Blackest Crow”
If this song was just presented as another track on their newest album, you probably wouldn’t think much of it aside from having a cool, rootsy intro. But Mustaine’s strong penchant to have this be some ode to metalgrass fusion is where it gets a little silly. Supposedly Mustaine reached out to Willie Nelson to guest on the track, but Willie “couldn’t get his schedule to line up” (which is Texan for “I’d rather get raped by a skunk”). He also asked Miranda Lambert of all people. “Although she declined,” Mustain explained, “her manager was polite enough to reportedly say she didn’t feel she could make the song better. I was very flattered.”
Man, there’s so much accidental comedy in that quote.
Look, the song is fine for what it is, which is a metal song with a bluegrassy intro. It’s just that Megadeth metal never really evolved much from its 80’s-era introduction, and unfortunately their music hasn’t held up as well as Mustaine’s perm. Listening to this song makes me want to put on a black trench coat, poke my thumbs through holes at the ends of my long sleeves, and smoke Marlboros with my friends at a Waffle House before throwing eggs at the McCormick’s Caprice Classic because their kids are such preppie assholes.
At some point all music must evolve, or in this case, devolve to its roots, and that’s what Dave Mustaine and Megadeth are trying to do here. No, it’s not anywhere near a bluegrass or country song, but for Megadeth metal, the “bluegrass” approach adds something that they’re music has been craving for 30 years now—something new.
1 1/4 of 2 guns up as a METAL song.
June 5, 2013 @ 8:57 am
I heard this last night. I kinda liked it, but such a big deal about “channeling bluegrass” didn’t need to be made. But then again incorporating banjo into metal is getting to be a pretty big thing, the banjo solo in “Myr” by Taake was pretty danged popular, so I’m not surprised Megadeth wanted everyone to know about it.
The whole thing about Willie and Miranda though, ugh, I read that and was feeling a bit embarrassed for Dave. He should have asked David Eugene Edwards to play on it, I bet he would have done it.
June 5, 2013 @ 7:16 pm
Shit, you must not have very much regard for DEE…
June 5, 2013 @ 7:27 pm
heh, I just meant as far as being likely to get involved in a metal-type project. I actually give him most of the credit for getting me into country music after decades of listening to nothing but alternative, punk and metal. I owe him a lot.
April 25, 2015 @ 9:41 am
This song is about his mother in law, who was battling alheizmers. Very touching.
June 5, 2013 @ 9:00 am
I’ll give him props for trying something different at least. I haven’t been a fan of Megadeth for a while though and this album doesn’t change that. If you want a real mix of metal and bluegrass, check out Panopticon’s album Kentucky. It’s a concept album about old Kentucky and coal miners that mixes bluegrass and black metal.
June 5, 2013 @ 9:16 am
I am liking this quite a bit. Years and years ago I was telling people that black metal and bluegrass / old time music should be mixed. I got laughed at and made fun of mercilessly of course, but I really do think the two genres work together very well.
June 5, 2013 @ 9:26 am
I think one of the reasons that dark metal music and bluegrass can work is because they both have deep Gothic roots.
I do have to say though, some people say that it’s a double standard to criticize the mixing of rap and country, and give the mixing of rock and country a pass just because we’re predisposed to liking rock music more. And is it fair to criticize Rascal Flatts for playing arena rock, but to give this a pass?
June 5, 2013 @ 12:30 pm
There is a huge fundamental difference between arena rock and most metal music, and there is a connection between some metal and country music. I have a friend who is quite talented at banjo, loves old country music (even met John Hartford more than once) and has a metal music show. At the time I first met him I wasn’t much into metal music, but his tastes have changed mine. While they are certainly two separate genres there are some connections. Neurosis has said one of their primary influences is Hank Williams….I mean my God, I was stunned when I read that. Steve von Till is in love with Townes Van Zandt and has done more than one cover. Hell, there was even a cover album of Townes Van Zandt songs by metal people (I use metal generally here….there are a plethora of specific micro-genres in metal). Wino did an acoustic album, and while it was no means country, it had a certain gothic roots feel to it. Stoner rock/metal is simply blues with massive distortion. Even Clutch have said they are not metal; they are hardcore blues. I also feel there is a big difference between area rock and some metal. Many metal artists are very intelligent (Thou, as one example) and don’t make music for the sole purpose of making money…aka arena rock. I may be stretching a bit, but metal and country have much more in common than country and arena rock or country and hip hop. It might not be super evident, but the connections are there and they run deep. Just because they are related doesn’t mean they will always mix well, but at least there’s something to go off of. I would be critical of any country/metal mix (this Megadeth song is, well, boring), but if something sounds good, give it props. BTW, I have no doubt that if someone actually did a good country/rap mix, you and many would say it worked and was good. This hasn’t happened yet and may never, but us bashing that mix is because it hasn’t worked yet and probably won’t.
red headed stranger
January 1, 2015 @ 8:34 pm
I don’t think black metal and bluegrass could mix lyrically because bluegrass typically sings about gospel stuff and black metal lyrics often is very anti-Christian and Satanist rooted though a lot of the newer black metal has gotten away from it. Black metal also has snarled, screeched, hissed and screamed vocals. The only way I could see them mixing is they both have a lot of minor scaled instrumentation and sing about suffering, mountains ( for example in black metal ‘ Transylvanian hunger’ by Darkthrone), lonesome rural life. The two cultures that listen to that type of music are very different too(not to stoerotype) . Like black metal listeners are often anti theists or Satanists and gothic dressing. Bluegrass listeners usually are country people or just people who have a good taste in music and often Christians.
June 5, 2013 @ 9:08 am
I’m pretty sure I saw a photo not that long ago of Dave Mustaine hanging out with Willie Nelson and Alex Jones (of all people). I’d say it’s not that far fetched that he thought he could get Willie to do it.
June 5, 2013 @ 9:20 am
I think Willie would have done it too, because Willie has proved he will collaborate with anyone over the years. Was just trying to be a little humorous above.
June 5, 2013 @ 9:17 am
I didn’t hate this song it’s alright. What gets me is everyone in the rock world has “gone country” being that country music is the only viable platform anymore for any musician especially rock musicians…ie Aaron Lewis.
June 5, 2013 @ 9:34 am
Bluegrass inspired, huh? It sounds like a slow intro to a heavy metal song (like the intro to Enter Sandman), except played on acoustic instruments common in bluegrass music (except, um, drums). I don’t mind it per se, but I’m not hearing any Bill Monroe or Earl Scruggs in it.
June 5, 2013 @ 9:46 am
Ever hear “Slaughter of the Bluegrass” ? They are a bunch of swedish bluegrass players who’ve done covers of a bunch of death metal songs — most notably, Amon Amarth’s classic, “Twilight of the Thunder God.”
(here’s the original in all of it’s cookie monster glory: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P3WJX1cIuY4 )
June 5, 2013 @ 11:23 am
I think I’ll wait for the Ozzy Osbourne and Sam Bush collaboration…
June 5, 2013 @ 11:28 am
This is OK, I guess. If it wasn”™t Megadeath I may be a little more forgiving but I”™m predisposed to shrugging off anything Mustaine puts out these days.
I was a VERY big fan of Liberteer”™s “Better to Die on Your Feet Than Live on Your Knee”™s” Which featured quite a bit of bluegrass banjo amidst the brutal metal/grindcore.
June 5, 2013 @ 12:52 pm
While I understand your criticism of this song, I don’t necessarily agree that ALL music must evolve. As has been said many times, it really comes down to the artist and the context which they make music in. Some artists do nothing but experiment with different styles, such as Rush, while others like AC/DC stubbornly maintain a particular style as artistic expression in a different way. It really just comes down to who we’re talking about and what kind of music it is. I’ve never been all that impressed with pure metal due to the fact that it’s more or less all about screeching guitars, so I’m fairly indifferent to Megadeth. I find hard rock and oldschool rock & roll to be much more malleable in style and content and therefore more enjoyable. That doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy music that ISN’T malleable (I did mention AC/DC, after all), but I find artists in rock & roll and hard rock to be more diverse than I do artists in metal, which seem dime-a-dozen.
June 5, 2013 @ 9:14 pm
I guess its not necessarily that all music has to evolve as much as metal really has not evolved, and right now it sits at a weird place on the relevancy arch. Mustaine is trying to shake it up with this song possibly, and it might not be a bad idea.
June 6, 2013 @ 1:13 pm
Yeah, the fact that metal hasn’t evolved is more or less what I was implying when I said that it was all about screeching guitars. It doesn’t HAVE to evolve (in my opinion), but I find little entertainment value in it anyway. There’s too little diversity (which, as you note, this song is trying to curb). If it were to change in some substantial way, who knows, I might actually enjoy it more.
June 7, 2013 @ 6:38 am
Compared to what genre has metal failed to evolve? I would suggest you might not be familar enough with the genre… I listened to it once and thought it was one of the better megadeth songs I had heard in awhile. It’s about his mother having alzheimers I believe. I generally don’t care for much Megadeth just because Mustaine’s lyrics can get awfully cheesy. Listening to it I can’t hear where he thought a guest country vocalist would’ve been useful. I do think he did a good job on the song though by not going overboard. It keeps a metal “feel” to it throughout, imo.
June 7, 2013 @ 8:35 am
Maybe it’s not as much as metal has failed to evolve as Megadeth has failed to evolve. I agree there is a lot of creative, innovative, progressive stuff going on in metal. But no, I don’t consider myself an expert on the genre, though I may know a little more than your average bear, and some of the links here in the comments section have helped educate me.
TX Music Jim
June 5, 2013 @ 1:11 pm
I grew up being the weird kied who loved metal and country so part of me wants to like this BUT Damit please for the love of all things holy in this world can we let metal be metal rap be rap and country be country please !!!
June 5, 2013 @ 1:43 pm
There is nothing bluegrass about this song.
June 5, 2013 @ 3:38 pm
Love all kinds of music, but I mainly stick to country and metal. Megadeth has been bad for a long time, and like you said, this is actually interested to listen to compared to most of their music in the past 15 yrs. The first bit of the song didn’t sound to much different from Jason Aldean’s arena rock
June 5, 2013 @ 4:02 pm
Hank 3 does a better job than this on Ghost To A Ghost, and Troopers Hollar. The country and metal elements on those songs actually sound like they naturall fit togther. This megadeath song sounds like the record’s producer was playing a prank on them.
June 6, 2013 @ 9:47 am
Agreed. Bloody Jug Band and Joe Buck Yourself also incorporate metal elements more naturally.
June 5, 2013 @ 6:15 pm
I’ve got nothing deep to add to this, but I loved it.
June 5, 2013 @ 6:16 pm
Haven’t listened to the full thing, but I’m feeling a dark theme from it already. I’ve heard Pride & Glory use the banjo in “Losin’ Your Mind”, which is a southern-metal band that Zakk Wylde use to be the sing and lead guitarist in and it was fucking amazing. I think of this more as a dark song with just a banjo in, because I think we can all admit that the banjo is pretty damn intimidating. Unless of course you can honestly say that you wouldn’t feel frightened to be in the woods alone and start hearing this banjo riff starting to play. Hahaha.
June 5, 2013 @ 8:33 pm
I like it for what it is, a good metal song with banjo in it. Not the first to do it, but one of the better ones. Definitely something new and unique as a whole though.
June 6, 2013 @ 4:33 am
One of the best metal songs with “banjo:”
It just segues to the main riff after about 10 seconds, but damn that was from a good album that I haven’t listened to in a while. I hope they return to their roots on their next album after the pop metal mess on The Hunter.
June 6, 2013 @ 11:35 am
Here’s an example of a song where metal and bluegrass elements are fused well:
June 6, 2013 @ 7:09 pm
I was just awaitin’ for the warbled black black black . . .
June 7, 2013 @ 12:06 pm
“It”™s just that Megadeth metal never really evolved much from its 80”²s-era introduction, and unfortunately their music hasn”™t held up as well as Mustaine”™s perm.”
Your own bias and lack of knowledge is revealed with that statement. To say that Megadeth has not evolved since the 80s is pure nonsense. Try listening to Killing Is My Business or Peace Sells and say they still sound the same. And to then complain that their music was not held up is laughable, since you don’t seem to know what their music sounds like.
Look, country radio is pretty rough nowadays, but don’t blame heavy metal for it.
June 7, 2013 @ 12:31 pm
“Look, country radio is pretty rough nowadays, but don”™t blame heavy metal for it. “
Look, we can go back and forth if Megadeth has evolved enough, or at least changed their sound up enough to keep their music interesting. But in NO way am I saying or implying that heavy metal has anything to do with the state of country radio.
June 7, 2013 @ 2:01 pm
Alright, I guess I missed that amongst several paragraphs of laughing at Dave Mustaine and saying heavy metal (Megadeth in particular) hasn’t changed in 30 years. My bad on that one for not reading all the way to the end.
If you look through Megadeth’s discography, you’ll find quite a breadth of music. The first instrument heard on a Megadeth album is actually a piano! This is not their first dip into Country/Western Rock — the song Wanderlust from 1999’s Risk has a very cowboy sort of feel.
In any event, if the country radio here in Upstate SC would play something with some balls like The Blackest Crow, I might listen to it for more than simply appeasing my wife’s musical choices.
Thanks for the response!
June 7, 2013 @ 2:34 pm
And don’t forget they “semi” covered “These Boots Where Made for Walking” on their first album.
June 7, 2013 @ 2:56 pm
Yeah, and only when they became popular did Nancy Sinatra sue them! Now the remastered Killing Is My Business… And Business Is Good! has the “bleeped out” version of “These Boots” which is either terrible or hilarious.
Megadeth also covered Howlin’ Wolf’s blues hit “I Ain’t Superstitious” on Peace Sells.. But Who’s Buying? Of the Big 4 American metal bands, I have found them to be the ones who took the most intelligent risks with their music. Anthrax stayed pretty steady, Slayer is still cranking out the same stuff, and Metallica is unrecognizable. But Megadeth has grown over the years but is still identifiable. (I just listened to the entire discography over the last few weeks in prep for the new album, so it’s all pretty fresh in there.)
June 7, 2013 @ 2:28 pm
Metal has been mixing in all sorts stuff (Classical, Jazz, Funk, Blues – which is arguably the origin of metal) since I can remember. This doesn’t seem like much of stretch, doesn’t come off as cheesy and works fine. BUT I am sure there are metal purists freaking out somewhere.
Either way, I think it healthy for everyone to experiment (unless it comes out like that new Blake Shelton tune “che tabaca, chew tabaca spiiit … REALLY?).
And like someone said above, Zack Wylde has been playing in this metal-southern-rock-country sanbox since the 90’s in Pride and Glory. Didn’t hear many complaining about it then.
That said not sure WTF Dave thought Miranda Lambert was gonna bring to the table. We’ll never know.
I’ll shut up now.
June 8, 2013 @ 8:45 am
Personally, I thought Forget to Remember had more of a country feel than The Blackest Crow.
June 9, 2013 @ 2:08 am
That’s not a very good song in my opinion.
For a good mix between metal and country I prefer to listen Nine Pound Hammer (Kentucky Breakdown or Sex, Drugs And Bill Monroe).
Or even Zack Wylde Pride and Glory first record it has some good songs on it.
June 12, 2013 @ 1:37 pm
Seeing Megadeth being talked about on this website was not expected. I can’t really add anything to the discussion here, but I will be seeing Megadeth open for Iron Maiden this September. That should be one hell of a show.
August 21, 2013 @ 4:15 pm
Still waiting for the collaboration with Merle Haggard and Varg Vikernes from Burzum!
September 12, 2013 @ 10:26 pm
I think this song i cool. Like many Megadeth songs you have to listen to them more than once to get into them. Megadeth songs kind of grow on you. Of the last CD’s I think Endgame was brilliant.
Megadeth is so technical skilled that they still deliver.
December 19, 2013 @ 9:51 am
Kind of late to the conversation, but didn’t Megadeth do stuff with Paul Franklin in the past? I know it isn’t bluegrass but I don’t think it was the first time Megadeth reached towards the country realm. Just wondering, not sure if it is true but something I have heard.