Megadeth's new album, The Sick, The Dying... and the Dead!, is the thrash pioneers's first since Dave Mustaine was diagnosed with — and beat — throat cancer. While the record's lyrical themes deal with plagues and sickness throughout the the course of history, there aren't any tracks on the record that specifically speak to Mustaine's own experience with cancer — but there is one that features a contribution from his cancer doctor.
In a new interview with the Nashville Tennesean, Mustaine's oncologist who successfully treated him for cancer in 2019, Anthony Cmelak, revealed that he co-wrote lyrics on the album track, "Dogs of Chernobyl," which is a song about animals left behind after the infamous 1986 nuclear disaster. Since it deals with the topic of radiation, and Cmelak used radiation to treat Mustaine's sickness, the frontman asked his doctor if he could share some radiology expertise to give the song more credibility.
"I think he wanted descriptive terminology on how your bodily functions would change after exposure to massive doses of radiation," Cmelak said. "He also wanted a flair of someone being left behind … I geared toward that and it came around very quickly."
Cmelak treated Mustaine at the Vanderbilt University Medical Center where Cmelak is the Director of Head and Neck Radiotherapy and Director of the Functional Radiosurgery Program in the Department of Radiation Oncology. Elsewhere in the Nashville Tennessean interview, Cmelak described what it was like to see Mustaine in the state he was in pre-recovery.
"I just felt horrible for him because here's this guy who has been on stage in front of 10s of thousands of people," Cmelak told Nashville Tennessean. "To see him change from being scared [not] about his career, but his life — to see him go through it day to-day — he seemed to take it in strides."
The Sick, the Dying... And the Dead! is out now and is available on CD form at Revolver's shop. Below, watch Mustaine talk about how he made the album while "the fucking world falls apart."