Dave Mustaine’s Oncologist Co-Wrote “Dogs of Chernobyl” on New Megadeth Album

Videos by American Songwriter

Videos by American Songwriter

Dave Mustaine recently revealed that his oncologist helped co-write one of the tracks on Megadeth’s most recent album The Sick, The Dying… and the Dead!.

A collection of songs centered around plagues and illness, the album comes three years after Mustaine was first diagnosed with throat cancer in 2019 and peers into his own experience and treatment before becoming cancer-free.

To elaborate on his own treatment and incorporate more detail of the effects of radiation on the track “Dogs of Chernobyl”—a six-plus minute metal forage around the wildlife that survived after the nuclear power plant disaster near the city of Pripyat in Ukraine in 1986—Mustaine enlisted the oncologist who treated him, Anthony Cmelak, to help co-write the song. Mustaine asked the doctor for some information on radiation that could be used in the song, and the band recorded the track two days after Cmelak shared his contribution to the lyrics.

“I think he wanted descriptive terminology on how your bodily functions would change after exposure to massive doses of radiation,” said Cmelak, who treated Mustaine at the Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, where he serves as director of head and neck radiotherapy and director of the functional radiosurgery program. “He also wanted a flair of someone being left behind. I geared toward that and it came around very quickly.”

Mustaine recently launched a signature guitar with Gibson and worked with the House of Mustaine, a boutique wine company run by his daughter Electra and wife Pamela, to help develop their first wine, the 2013 Symphony Interrupted Cabernet Sauvignon. 

Megadeth is currently on the U.S. leg of their tour, which runs through Dec. 4. 

“Some days are good, some days are great,” said Mustaine of his condition now. “I feel happy about my life right now.”

Photo: Courtesy of Gibson

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