In fact, Mustaine has often suggested Ulrich is the primary factor in his uneasy relationship with Metallica to this day. While Mustaine is on good terms with James Hetfield, Metallica's No Life 'Til Leather reissue has been in limbo for years due to an unresolved dispute over songwriting credit between Ulrich and Mustaine.
But Mustaine's tune on Ulrich was slightly different during a recent conversation with Songfacts. After retreading the No Life 'Til Leather deadlock and his bitterness over Metallica's debut album, Mustaine admitted he'd actually consider working with his old bandmates again; he still has a deep connection with them despite all the time that's passed.
"I would love to work with James. I'd like to work with Lars again, too, but I think the real talent in Metallica has always been around the guitar — everybody makes fun of the drums," Mustaine said, before offering some semblance of a defense of Ulrich.
"Lars is a really great song arranger. And believe it or not, I watching him on a piece-of-s--t acoustic guitar write the opening riff to ['Master of Puppets']."
Mustaine added that despite his history, he's defended both Hetfield and Ulrich before and would do so again.
"I fought somebody because of James," Mustaine recalled. "Somebody was going to beat his ass in San Francisco and I got in between them — and got knocked around a bit myself. But I would never let anything happen to those guys.
"Somebody picked on Lars and I snapped his leg ... And I'm not a violent person, I'm just very protective of the people I love."
He continued, referencing an incident where Hetfield stopped a Metallica set to admit to the crowd that he had been feeling extremely depressed before a show.
"I want to help him," Mustaine added of Hetfield's disclosure. "He probably wouldn't want my help, but maybe if a couple of guys with guitars and a bag full of chips can get through a conversation and become friends again, who knows?"