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By releasing the ridiculously good Rust in Peace in 1990, Megadeth had achieved the pinnacle of songwriting that the thrash subgenre allowed for. With it, the band proved capable of interweaving stellar instrumental work within complex arrangements, resulting in a sophisticated product that was nonetheless very catchy and memorable. At that point in time, metal was on the verge of breaking into the mainstream, with Metallica releasing their famed self-titled album in 1991. And rivalry-fueled Dave Mustaine, ever-eager to outdo his competitors, decided that the only logical path for his band to take was to also expand their sound into a more accessible format. The result was Countdown to Extinction.
Countdown to Extinction had its eyes on the grand prize of radio airplay and fame. As a result, the band has sacrificed most of the complexity that had accompanied Rust in Peace in favor of a more streamlined and polished sound. The songs are primarily straightforward four-minute rockers, sporting an emphasis on catchy guitar hooks, vocal lines and choruses. Despite this sharp turn in style and simplification of sound, however, the album's attitude still screams "Megadeth!". Mustaine's snarl hasn't lost its edge, and neither have the instrumental capabilities of Ellefson, Friedman and Menza who don't waste the opportunity to show off their prowess every now and then. The solo in Symphony of Destruction is still among the finest the band ever put out, whereas the tasteful opening bassline to the title track and the drum solo in closer Ashes in Your Mouth are successful as well. Even ridiculous-yet-cool design decisions such as the "Hello me, meet the real me!" monologue in Sweating Bullets don't take away from the fun factor that this release possesses. In addition, a high degree of consistency is achieved throughout the record's eleven songs, which successfully prevent this from being a singles album.
The band hasn't entirely lost touch with its past self, as there are a few moments which remind us of older Megadeth. Architecture of Aggression and Ashes in Your Mouth are heavier, more complex and more aggressive than the rest of the songs, even sporting some off-time 2/4 and 7/8 riffs here and there. Captive Honour, on the other hand, features a pretty complicated riff that almost sounds like a lead. If there are songs I'd criticise, one would be Foreclosure Of A Dream, which simply doesn't manage to be interesting. Also, High Speed Dirt, despite being decidedly catchy and upbeat, is about the quite dull and un-metal subject of skydiving.
Overall, Countdown's crowning achievement is that it successfully breaks into radio-play territory without sacrificing the integral ingredients that make the music Megadeth and not some other band. Do listen.
In his quest to beat Metallica Dave has done the drastic, he released an extremely mareketable album. Not really a sellout album...yet. It does a fairly good job of making a more marketable sound and still having it sound like a Megadeth album and for the most part is a good album.
Lyrically I feel Dave decided to add some new topics beyond his usual war, death and conspireacy. A bold move as it helps him share more of his worldly views and might get Megadeth into circles where they weren't present before and adding a layer that people can more easily relate to. Global awareness, (Countdown to Extinction) suicide, (High Speed Dirt) and mortgage troubles (Foreclosure of a Dream) have all been introduced. More melodic singing emphasizes the flaws in Dave's voice to a point where his natural charisma no longer covers it completely up, his vocals are still alright off the most part but a few tracks fall short (Captive Honour).
The guitar has almost completely traded its quick calculated riffs for slower more melodic riffs. This works out pretty well for the boys, the technicality is missed but the melody works just fine. There are also now guitar hooks added into the choruses. The solos are much slower but again add in another layer of melody. Forclosure of a Dream adds in a acoustic sections to fit as a ballad, ballads aren't new to Megadeth's music but they make more sense here. Not all the speed is lost though some tracks still rip along (High Speed Dirt and Skin O' my Teeth).
The drumming is slowed down and simplified. This really is a shame as its performance simply isn't as good now. The mixture of complexity and pounding did a lot for the performance and it simply doesn't sound right now. It also pounds a lot less to help with melody within the songs. I don't remember the bass doing much besides rounding out the sound and providing the basic backbone.
No, this isn't the Black Album and I'm sure many a metalhead like it far more however in the terms of competing with Metallica for popularity was a wasted effort (Black Album sold 16 million copies in the U.S. alone by the end of the 90s, pretty hard to beat) and ultimately while this album turned out just fine it foreshadows Dave's willingness to do whatever it takes to get the record sales and this foreshadows another release I'll most likely be covering before christmas, I'm sure Megadeth fans know what controversial piece I'm speaking of.
Standout tracks: Countdown to Extinction, High Speed Dirt, Symphony of Destruction and Sweating Bullets
Megadeth will always matter to me, no matter what. Even if I completely detach myself from the whole metal thing in general (which isn't wholly unrealistic), a part of me will always be loyal to Mustaine and Co. for being the one band that got me into metal music in the first place, and no matter how many twists, turns, scars and burns I've gone through from the mid 90s to now with regard to personal tastes they've always remained there, the top head on the musical totem pole. But it's not exactly blind hero worship; I've been awfully critical of the 'deth plenty of times, then and now, and if need be I can and will wag a finger or two at them for any questionable decisions they would undertake. And it was with that in mind that, when looking back at their 1992 breakthrough wrecking ball, I found not only their biggest album to date but, in my humble opinion, their most deplorable...
As history would denote, this ended up being a turning point for the band in a few different ways, not all of which are for the better. Made during in era in which Dave and crew tried their damnedest to go clean, "Countdown..." was their most tight and technically performed album up to this point. This resulted in a fine listen in its own right, as one can be able to discern actual notation and riffing schemes without needing a compass to cut through the chaos that came from their earlier, drug-fueled mayhem. The guitar work had a lot of sleek sharpness in both rhythm and lead work (albeit sounding somewhat dry in tone), the drumming was top notch and straightforward with no missteps, and Dave's vocals were some of the best he'd ever given us (actually learning how to be a vocalist will do that...), all of which came together in the cleanest possible production they could get at the time for a listen like no other.
And the songs themselves? Well, I don't think I have to tell you. Every other track became a live staple for a reason, so it's not hard to pick any that don't definitively stand out; "Symphony of Destruction", "Sweating Bullets", "Ashes in Your Mouth", even the seemingly lesser-tier likes of "Captive Honor" and "Foreclosure of a Dream" given unto listeners the world over as much substance as they can/would allow. It really did seem like a new beginning for the band, the best possible example of maintaining your original sense of relevance while being able to snag in new, different listeners in the process.
But on the other hand, and I am quite loathe to say this despite all the positivity I've given it, this was really when the band seemed to lose their original burning spirit. Focus was diverted from making true, genuine works of bitter art to being the star of the show (admitted by Mr. Mustaine, no less...), and the recordings to follow suffered for it, yet none as badly as this. As a result, this is the one album of their entire discography I can claim to actually dislike. Yes, above "Cryptic Writings", "The World Needs a Hero" and even "Risk", for with those three I can accept what they are and find even a modicum of enjoyment. But in the end, with "Countdown..." there's just nothing here for me.
Maybe it's the more than potently felt tonal/visionary shift, the decrease in chaotic heaviness and speed, the truncation of the songwriting, certain tracks on here I outright despise (I wish I could unhear the title track, I really do...), or maybe all of it, but I've never felt so detached from a record as badly as I do with this, where at times it feels like Megadeth were trying to pull themselves away from this listener as they ventured into parts unknown. And at the risk of somehow ducking the real reasons behind my personal angst, I can't exactly say what it is about it that really digs at me. There's something inexplicably wrong with this, some necessary yet ultimately invisible ingredient missing from the recipe, and as a result i just plain do not like this album. Not at all.
In the end this is, while a very competent affair, something I cannot bring myself to listen to again. If ever there was a face for a personal "worst Megadeth album", this would easily be it, and the one album of theirs that has since been deleted from my personal collection and history. But hey, at least the single live tracks aren't that bad...so there's that...
This is a pretty well-executed album. None of these songs are really bad, and the band does a good job on their instruments. The problem is that the music ends up sounding similar and seldom very exciting. There are a few excellent songs on here, but there's also some less than ideal songs. To go along with this, when a song fails it makes the rest of the music more repetitive. The production is also partially at fault.
The production on this album is technically good. I would be surprised if this wasn't completely state of the art when this came out. The problem is that it's very dry and mechanical. Some bands make this work, but most don't. It essentially makes the whole album sound processed, like this was crafted in a boardroom meeting or something. This is possibly the most negative atmosphere I've ever heard, and most songs are dragged down by it. Credit where it's due, the instruments and vocals are mixed pretty well. This wasn't done cheaply, but neither really were the last two. You could pretty much hear everything on the last two as well, without this cold feeling. Ditto on the remaster for Peace Sells.
As to the more repetitive aspect, most of this album spends its time in the same pace. None of this is very fast, but very little of this is slow either. It's pretty much all mid-paced, but without the mayhem. This means that when a song fails, your attention turns to what goes into the song itself. By the second or third failure, you start to realize how similar the music is to each other. On Rust, you didn't have this problem. For one, there was more variety contained, and for two, it was mostly excellent. This really isn't particularly gripping music. The soloing is still technical, but even the riffing feels samey. There also isn't near the anger or passion present on some of the earlier material.
As to the song quality, most are alright at least. I'm partial to Aggression, My Life, and Psychotron, but there's some other songs of close or similar quality. The songs I'm much less fond of are Skin and Sweating, but they aren't particularly bad. This is an odd album in the sense that what you enjoy isn't going to be consistent. The songs are all pretty similar, with very little distinguishing between them. I wouldn't recommend hearing this all at once, as the similarity is odd the first time. I would suggest hearing this in pieces the first time around in order to notice the differences.
The playing itself is pretty good. Friedman is still very technical and catchy with his soloing. The riffing is more samey than it has ever been. This is a far cry from the variety seen on the earlier albums. Mustaine's vocals aren't helped by the improved production. The increased clarity and slowing down of the music, has intensified the effect of his vocals, and not for the better. The bass is more prominent, but he doesn't do any more than he usually does. I really don't even think he's more audible, it's just that the guitars don't sound as different from the guitars as they have in the past. The very mechanical feel means that everything sounds somewhat bassy. The drumming is not really special. Menza doesn't hit it as hard as usual, so instead he leans on his technical acumen. The problem is that his fills just aren't that creative. I think most of his fills were pretty stock in the 70's, let alone early 90's.
For all these flaws, it's still a good album. This is probably the peak of Mustaine's lyrical acumen, which mostly alleviates his vocal problem. Aggression is legitimately interesting from a certain angle. It's not insightful, but it's pretty good as a statement of the times. The soloing is still very good, as good as could be found at the time. This is probably the third best Megadeth ever did, so it is worth a listen. This is more a heavy than thrash album, but I'd recommend both try it. Each individual can sort out which songs they like the most, and then they can rip those songs.
Alright, here we go...Countdown to Extinction. For the uninitiated, this album receives a lot of criticism, particularly from diehard Megadeth fans for its foray into more mainstream appeal. It has often been cited as "Megadeth's Black Album". That statement isn't entirely accurate (nor do I see it as derogatory, having thoroughly enjoyed the Black Album personally). Youthanasia could be rightly compared to the Black Album, but this album still has traces of thrash, or at least thrash influences throughout. For the VERY uninitiated, this was also the followup to Megadeth's triumphant masterstroke Rust In Peace, and expectations were absolutely through the roof. If you try to compare Countdown to Extinction to Rust In Peace, you're gonna lose that battle every day of the week GUARANTEED. Therefore, I will try my best to review this as a standalone product (unless I feel a comparison is absolutely necessary). That's enough history lessons, though. Without further adieu, my review of Countdown to Extinction.
The absolute first thing that hit me with this album - and one of my big immediate problems with it - was the production. When I first got a taste of Countdown, I was listening to it on a pair of mediocre quality headphones, so I assumed it was just the headphones themselves. I decided I would give it a try in mono on my boombox, and sure enough it wasn't the headphones. This album has very poor production. The drums are too sharp, the vocals sound washed over, the solos are grating, and the contrast is very poor (bass guitar? What bass guitar?). If I had to make an honest recommendation, get the remaster. The production on the original is very unpleasant to listen to (I remember wincing several times the first time I heard Sweating Bullets). I know production isn't easy or cheap, but Rust In Peace had a lower budget and managed to sound great.
Songwriting is actually a fair bit better than some of Megadeth's previous albums. The focus has been taken off of speed and more on writing and melody, and Countdown to Extinction benefits from it nicely. There are cheesy bits (the courtroom "scene" on Captive Honour is so out of place it almost feels comedic in spots), but songs like Symphony of Destruction and Architecture of Aggression have some great memorable lyrics. Dave Mustaine still has the old chip on his shoulder and he takes it out as much as ever on Countdown to Extinction. Once again, no one is safe. The only track of which I don't like his vocals on is Sweating Bullets. His snarling is very over-exaggerated and he really sounds like a cartoon character.
The atmosphere on Countdown to Extinction is very foreboding rather than straight-up vicious like on older albums such as So Far, So Good....So What? The slower riffs, tight drum fills, and carefully structured instrumentation really add to this feel. The old Mustaine sounded like he would bite your head off if you came too close, but this Mustaine sounds more like he's just biding his time, waiting for you to step out of line.
The themes on most of the songs are just "new Megadeth, same as the old Megadeth". Dave Mustaine doesn't like politicians, he doesn't like the rules, and most of all he doesn't like you. But what's this? On the album's title track, something entirely new comes to the table, an environmental message warning us of the consequences of hunting? This track actually won Megadeth an award from an ecological society for its dark prediction about the extinction of species. Needless to say, that is decidedly un-Megadeth. It's delivered with the usual dark lyrics and violent imagery, but overall is still very new for the band and I'll still take it any day over the far right wing drivel that permeates United Abominations or Endgame.
Before I wrap this up, I'll go over some personal highlights. The opener, Skin O' My Teeth, has a great Judas Priest-inspired feel. Despite the overdone vocals, Sweating Bullets actually has some very good lyrics, but in terms of tracks that you will walk away remembering, Architecture of Aggression is this album's highlight and centerpiece. The riffs are absolutely amazing, the drums tight as hell, and the lyrics are very cheesy and over the top, but in a rather cool way. Overall, I'd recommend this album to a person who was getting into Megadeth but wasn't a diehard thrash fan.
Megadeth's fifth album and second with the Menza/Friedman lineup that would be the most consistent lineup in the band's 30 year career [they started in 1983 after Dave was booted from Metallica]. While most fans probably hate this album, expecting Rust in Peace 2, I think this is album is pretty good. They also compare it to past Megadeth albums, whereas as I compare it to The Black Album. Hell, in Skin o' My Teeth, he even does his best James Hetfield impression during the line, "That, that doesn't kill me, only makes me stronger", singing the latter half similar to how James would've sang it. And yes, it was deliberate. You can tell from his snotty attitude and the fact he's doing it on purpose.
Marty Friedman's leads are a particular point of focus for me as far as this album goes. Why? Well, I really enjoy his unorthodox, outside the box Middle Eastern way of playing. Very few lead guitarists play like him and he can shred or pull back and play very well thought out lines that emphasize the chord progressions amazingly well. I've spent 2 years on and off studying his playing style to try and get a better grasp of it. He's definitely a lot more inventive, interesting and skilled than Kirk Hammett, and he's definitely up there with Chris Poland. My favorite leads from Marty on this album are Symphony of Destruction, High Speed Dirt and Ashes in Your Mouth, as I think they display quite a few different facets of his playing.
Most fans like to blame him for making Megadeth weaker. It's not like Kane Hodder playing Jason in 4 of the shittiest Friday the 13th's in the film series. I'd place more blame on grunge, which totally changed Megadeth's image, Metallica's Black Album which prompted them to become more simplistic and commercially viable, which led to them wanting to be even more commercially accepted as this album only went #2 on the Billboard charts behind Billy Ray Cyrus, and the fact that out of the big 4, only one band stuck close to what got them famous in the first place -- Slayer -- as well as thrash metal as a whole disintegrating. In that sense, I think thrash metal was hit a lot harder than hair metal. Hair metal could still go out and play the hits to fans stuck in 1983, whereas thrash metal was totally raped, fragmented, and destroyed. Gone was the breakneck tempos, thrash riffing and poignant lyrics about nuclear war, death, and other interesting stuff, only to be replaced with clunky death metal, flubby nu-metal, half of which contained half-assed rap lyrics and mid-tempo, thrash metal-labeled groove metal played by potheads. But I digress.
For Dave Mustaine's part, he stepped up and wrote more hook based lyrics, though his venomous tongue that made him rather infamous in the '80s is pretty lacking here, and the difficult to figure out complicated thrash metal on the last record, Rust in Peace, is also conspicuously absent. For being a simpler record, however, it is rather worthy of praise as there is still some interesting melodic elements to the songs as well as some heavy parts. The Black Album on the other hand, while I enjoy it as well, is almost oversimplified and stripped down. I think comparing the covers to the two albums is a great summation to the comparison. Anyways, Dave Mustaine covers a lot of new topics here and his work on Sweating Bullets should be commended, as he sounds vile and a bit bipolar as well. Also, on This Was My Life he makes reference to "somewhere an electric chair awaits", which is most likely referring to Ride the Lightning, which I believe he had a songwriting credit on the title track. He even covers the topic of caged animal hunting in Countdown to Extinction. While his work on this album doesn't compare to past albums lyrically or musically, it's certainly a nice mix of the past and where he wanted Megadeth to be in the then-present, which they had issues with after this album. I'd consider this neo-Megadeth, but it's definitely a lot better than Risk and Metallica's Load/Reload garbage and skirting around on legacy rather than being musically productive. That said, I'm curious...did every thrash metal band forget where they came from and what they did best when they got off the drugs or what?
On Rust in Peace, you could hear David Ellefson pretty well, but his tone on this album is even better and you can actually hear him...what a novel concept. He definitely has his own space in the sonic spectrum of the album. I don't mean "I think I can hear a bassist in the other room" kind of deal. I mean you can seriously hear what David Ellefson is playing and that alone deserves praise. His bass really shakes the floor as well if you have a subwoofer that came with your computer speakers. While he may not get any memorable independent parts like the intro to Peace Sells or the song Dawn Patrol, it doesn't matter really as you can completely hear what he's playing. I'd have to say this is probably one of the best bass guitar performances, not just because he has a nice bass tone, but also because it isn't buried like what usually happens.
The drum work by Nick Menza on this album is nice, though I kinda dislike the kick drums. They just sound slightly fake to me, but it might've been necessary in order to make room for Ellefson's bass. Other than that, his fills and patterns accent the songs as they should and sound quite good. While he doesn't quite compare to Gar Samuelson, he is quite a bit better than Lars Ulrich and the forgettable performance by Chuck Behler on SFSGSW. Nick gave a great performance on this record, and has quite a steady sense of rhythm. In fact, his only real flaw isn't exactly him, but rather the drum tone. Other than that, his playing is great.
The songwriting, while streamlined and simplified, still contains enough Megadeth to make it worth the money to buy the album and the production is lightyears better than Killing is my Business. They managed to make room for Dave's snarly vocals and singing, the twin rhythm guitar attack of Marty and Dave, the lead guitars they weave throughout, and still have enough room for David's bass guitar to be quite prominent in the mix. Pretty much a perfect album as far as the production goes.
In closing, I'm sure this pissed off a lot of fans at the time, but it could be a lot worse than this. It's not a bad record, it's just not what fans probably expected after Rust in Peace. Oh well, it's a very mature record without being a total waste of one's time. Get it if you don't have it, but you may want to check out a few of the tracks prior to doing so.
Symphony of Destruction
Ashes in Your Mouth
We are once again in an election year. Only 2012 couldn't be more removed from 1992 in regards to politics, music, and politics in music. Take Dave Mustaine, current conservative mouthpiece of non-factual hatred towards our sitting president, the same man who twenty-years earlier released this forty-seven minute piece of left-leaning post-thrash that eventually won him a humane award for its lyrical content. Seems almost comical in hindsight but there's no getting around how critical Countdown To Extinction is of everything Mustaine has since lovingly embraced, whether its politics, economics, the environment, or faith, old-school Mega-Dave and new-school Christian-Dave couldn't be more different. But all that is really beside the point: music is our business and the music is mostly okay.
Things start falteringly with "Skin O' My Teeth," a speedier, up-tempo number that's barely a patch on what Megadeth was doing previously. With a stale left-over flavor, "Skin O' My Teeth" would've been b-side material at best previously and here its opening an album. Following this though is a multi-song run of brilliance starting with "Symphony Of Destruction." For some, this song is played out and that's understandable. It was everywhere at the time: commercial rock radio, underground radio, MTV, etc. Think about that for a second. Think about the simple yet frighteningly effective and memorable riffs from this song. Think about Dave's menacing snarl and the utter conviction he brings to these lyrics. This is heavy shit and back in the 90's, you actually had a chance to hear this music. Or better still, "Sweating Bullets," another huge track that was everywhere. And again, big-time staccato machine-gun style riffing and double-bass towards the finish with Dave's weird-voices "I'm crazy" lyrics and odd vocal delivery make this one of the heaviest songs to find minor mainstream acceptance.
Most metalheads push back against this brief (and utterly minimal) flirtation with mainstream rock culture but the omnivorous devourment of diverse musics in the 90's helped many people in rural areas like myself discover metal. I do understand how they would tremble before the nauseating slickness of "Foreclosure Of A Dream." Now I think this song is great but if I analyze my reasoning it falters along nostalgic lines. The clean tone guitar picking, vapid chugs, and Dave's nasal whine hitting obscene heights all make this track a strong indicator of Megadeth's impending and terminal decline. A skid into mediocrity accelerated by a mundane title track and stultifyingly moronic "This Was My Life," lifeless midtempo tracks aimed at amiability and radio rock aesthetics. I find "High Speed Dirt" comical as well. It's a cheesy tune to begin with and that little bluegrass/banjo interlude just sets me laughing. What a joke of a song.
Things do pick up towards the finish as "Psychotron" rips a serrated riff and a monstrous headbanging groove with sharp leads and a perfectly goofy Deathlok theme. And "Ashes In Your Mouth" has a nice syncopated groove, choppy riffs, and brilliant fretwork with an infectious chorus. It's a strong note on which to close. There's also "Architecture Of Aggression," easily the best song on the record. I mention it last because it really highlights the strength of Megadeth's songwriting while demonstrating their commitment to remain metal in the face of commercialization. From the opening gunfire and rising synths through the shredding RIP-ish guitar riffs and solos, hard pounding drum fills, and menacing chorus, this track makes clear that Megadeth still have the thrash fire in their bellies. Had they stuck to those guns a little harder and not chased Metallica so much, their rep might not have ended up so quickly in tatters.
In retrospect, Countdown To Extinction is Megadeth in transition. Unlike their peers in Metallica and Anthrax, they didn't completely abandon their roots with this record, choosing instead to graft solid metal structures onto a more hybridized arena rock format, stipulating a post-thrash sound not entirely mired in posturing grooves, alternative navel-gazing or strutting cock-rock cliche. And they did it on the backs of four of the best songs they've ever written in "Symphony Of Destruction," "Sweating Bullets," "Psychotron" and "Architecture Of Aggression." However, the consistency is lacking. Follow-up Youthanasia is actually a better all-around record than this, though the highs here are so much higher.
I had originally heard of Megadeth because of this album so I really can't talk shit about it too much (oh wait, yes I can). However, once I got my hands on some Peace Sells...But Who's Buying?, Last Rites, and So Far, So Good...So What? well, let's just say Countdown to Extinction got put on the backburner for some serious thrash/speed metal that Megadeth was famous for in the 80s. I do have to commend Megadeth on this effort though. Because believe me, they could have gone so much softer and more commercial than whats presented on this album for 1992. With Nirvana and those fuckheads Metallica coming out with Nevermind (actually a good album) and Black Album (a steaming pile of dog shit) respectively, thrash was basically killed off and became a dying race. Move over for death metal and grunge. You had your turn on the merry-go-round. It was a nightmare for thrashers everywhere who thought our genre would last into the 90s.
Even though I think this album is still a high quality Megadeth album I've always had my qualms about it. It seemed losing the thrash tag and trying to lengthen their reign into the new decade was the thing to do for thrash bands but, that's not really what metal is about.....is it? Isn't metal loved in a die-hard way because their bands and fans refuse to give up their principles and answer to no higher power? You're not supposed to make compromises in a thrash metal band! Especially with your music! Why all of the sudden just because of a new genre of music rears its ugly head in the early 90s did metal bands try to emulate it and try to become something they're not? I mean back in the 80s there was New Wave/Synthpop, Post-Punk, Michael Jackson, Bruce Springsteen and plenty of other popular genres of music but I will bet you not ONE of the thrash metal bands back then just suddenly jumped up and said "Holy Shit! Bruce Springsteen just released Born in the USA and everyone loves it! We gotta sound like that now to be successful!"
I guess where I'm going with this is Countdown to Extinction marks the point in Megadeth's career where the vital areas were shown. At least, to me, it showed not even Megadeth were safe from the commercial, everyone-copy-whatever-Metallica-or-Nirvana-does-or-you-won't-be-a-success fad in the 90s that plagued and claimed so many other thash bands in its wake (thank god we have death metal and black metal). The songs are extremely catchy and well-written but I would say only half or maybe even less than half can be considered thrash metal songs. The sound is produced well, but for all you thrashers out there that are looking for a Black Friday or Five Magics level of insanity in the songs and raw production, stay away. As for musicianship the guitars and vocals by Dave are the best on the album even if the guitar work has been dumbed down since Rust in Peace. Mustaine can still write riffs that's for sure. Nick Menza's drumwork has also been dumbed down since RIP but has moments his moments in songs like Psychotron and Ashes in Your Mouth. Otherwise I get kinda disappointed in the drumming because it's mainly a 4/4 kick snare kick snare beat most of the time with unenthusiastic fills. The Rust in Peace drumming shits all over this. The bass is also uninspiring although the tone suits the music. Gone are Dave Ellefson's creative fills like in Peace Sells or Killing is My Business.
To start off, Menza begins with a short drum fill and Dave opens up with the riff to Skin O' My Teeth. This is one of the faster, upbeat songs on the album and has a wide intervallic solo from Friedman. Simple riff yet so very effective. One fo the stronger tracks and a perfect opener. Symphony of Destruction is very plodding and the verse riff sounds like they came up with it at the last minute. The bridge and chorus is cool though with the descending arpeggios. I've played this one over so many times and heard it too much. Architecture of Aggression is one of my favorite tracks on the CTE. The riffs are played with calculated accuracy and Dave is no longer straining himself in the vocal department as he would occasionally on Rust in Peace. Throughout the whole album Dave adopts a lower singing style approach without losing the edge or grit in his delivery, something I wish he would do today since his voice sounds like Spongebob nowadays. Anyways, Architecture is the song on this album I find gets stuck in my head the most. There's time changes, thoughtful lyrics, riffs, as always, and two realy solid solos by Marty. A highlight for sure. Foreclosure of a Dream is also very catchy and alternates between clean verses and hard driving choruses. Once again, Dave delivers vocally on this song perfectly, putting plenty of feeling into the performance. The clean guitars and harmonized leads are great too. I'm not too fond of the meaning of the song but I can let that slide. It just goes to show that political messages, liberal or conservative, should never be more important than the music being played.
Sweating Bullets. What can I say. Genius song about schizophrenia and losing your sanity. Best lyrics on the damn album. Some people say they can't stand Dave's vocals on this one but I think they're funny as hell and delightfully evil. Listen to the solo and the riffs after it. So damn heavy. This one never gets old no matter how many times I play it. "..........Mankind has gotta know.....his limitations." This Was My Life is just ok. Really simple, unimpressive solo by Mustaine. Just a few notes on the E string and thats it. Phantom Lord clean part alert! Countdown to Extinction is just ok too. It tries to be Foreclosure of a Dream but falls short. It tries to be bombastic or dynamic but in the end is too held back for its own good. High Speed Dirt has very good riffs but is too happy. Psychotron is a mid paced chugger with numerous extended solos by Marty. Highly recommended. Captive Honour, along with AoA, are my two favorite songs on here. A melodic, minor intro comes in then is followed by a hilarious skit/spoken word thing in between with a judge, jury, the victim, and a black guy. "Boy your soul better belong to Jesus.....MMHHHMMMMM....cause your ass belongs to me HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA" Snaking, weaving riffs followed by some EPIC solos by Dave and Marty round this one out. Pure hilarity and monster riffs/solos make this one for me. For some reason on this song, the tone is much harsher and just adds to the music. Finally we end with Ashes in Your Mouth which sounds like an outtake from Rust in Peace. If the whole album sounded like this song it would probably get a 90-95%. This is perhaps the only true thrash song on the album. The riffs are played at breakneck speed and goes from a heavy shred rhythm to a melodic Maiden-esque progression towards the end. A final cadenza by Nick and the album's done.
This I think is the last Megadeth album that I can listen to all the way and not skip a track. The majority of the songs are strong but are nowhere near what they could have been if Megadeth would have stuck to their roots instead of becoming plaid-clad-warriors. As time would go on, my interest waned with Megadeth's future releases. Youthanasia is basically Countdown Part II but even more commercial. Yuck. I have the biggest love-hate relationship with this album because the songs and delivery are there and they mean well but you cannot deny this is where Megadeth stopped saying to themselves: How can we top our last album? How can we become something better than what we accomplished a year or two ago?
If I may add one more thing: Now you can agree or disagree with me, I personally don't care but I think Marty Friedman was responsible for the "demise" of the classic Megadeth. I've seen interviews, listened to the music, and did my homework. Go ahead look up the video on Headbangers Ball that shows Countdown being produced and Rikki Rachtman interviews the guys. Marty says he had no input, save for the solos, on RIP. On Countdown he said he had way more input. RED FLAG ALERT. This is the guy who was playing in 3rd rate glam/hair bands in the mid 80s (save for Cacophony) and although he had chops, he is not metal by any means. I'm not trying to sound like an elitist here but why do you think Iron Maiden kicked out Dennis Stratton after the first album? The guy hated the more harder edged songs and preferred softer rock AOR stuff. NOT COOL. Why do you think they kicked Glen Matlock out of the Sex Pistols? Cause he raved about the Beatles way too damn much. WHY DO YOU THINK GEORGE LYNCH TRIED OUT FOR OZZY TWICE AND DIDN'T GET THE GIG? Because George Lynch can't write a metal lick to save his life. I love George Lynch's playing, but he's not metal at all. He was in Dokken for fuck's sake. Can you imagine Lynch trying to come up with songs that could hold a candle to Diary of a Madman? Yeah right. And I'm Mary Queen of Scots. He simply is NOT METAL. My single biggest reservation about this album and Megadeth after Rust in Peace is Marty Friedman. The music speaks for itself. As soon as he got a little leeway to give his share, he softened the band with his "rock" riffs and sub-par contributions. The guy can play the shit out of a guitar, but apparently Megadeth "wasn't aggressive enough for him." And this is the guy who played on Risk, Cryptic Writings, Youthanasia, and CTE, the softest albums of Megadeth's career because of him. Go shove Peace Sells...But Who's Buying up your ass you pretentious poser and learn what aggressive really means.
Well, I put my two cents in. Recommended Megadeth album but suffers from slow/commercial/non-thrash offerings and dumbed down musicianship. 73% is being EXTREMELY generous on this one.
As Dr. Evil says: "You're quasi-evil. You're semi-evil. You're the margarine of evil. You're the diet Coke of evil." This is the Diet Coke of Megadeth's career. The beginning of the end.
Well here we have it, Megadeth makes a major change right here in their playing style. The songs start to slow down, the band made their thrust to the mainstream and the 90's change the face of metal forever. Though there were still some fast sections in and out of this one, it feels as if the Megadeth were on the change for a different approach for good while still running under the thrash genre tag. The thing was, thrash basically died as soon as the nineties reared it's ugly head with a few exceptions from other bands who wanted to keep the spirit alive. All the other major thrash line ups made changes as well, and what was once about speed, technical skill and creativity was altered.
No, I am not saying that this is a bad album, but the changes are evident. First, let's start off with the most appealing tracks so that the best can be separated from the rest. Ashes in Your Mouth is located at the very end of the record. It has a good blend of speed and warns us about the futility and uselessness of armed conflict motivated by vengeance. The bass line combined with the main riff in this one as well as the solo performed at the end gives Ashes in Your Mouth a stable position at the top.
Another two that belong up there are Symphony of Destruction and Psychotron. The first of the two is on par with Hangar 18 in terms of fame. The notable buildup in the playing style and the final approach to the solo with the marching bass line and stable drum beat make it good. Psychotron repeats the Peace Sells song make up with the fill solos played immediately after the lyrics have their turn up front. This one was based off of comic books again like in Killing is My Business.
I think some other quality playing can be found in This Was My Life, Foreclosure of a Dream, and Sweating Bullets. Architecture of Aggression another war piece, has the machine gun drumming and what sounds like what some troops out of Vietnam would experience. Captive Honor has the unique feel to it like actual puts you in prisoner clothes and sends you to the hole. The solo at 2:30 is one of persona favorites along with the fact that someone's manpussy was sold. High Speed Dirt and Skin Of My Teeth don't do it for me as much as the other titles. I honestly thought that Countdown to Extinction was about HUMAN extinction and not about species of animals disappearing....is Dave making a run for Greenpeace now? But I do enjoy the silence from the guitars and the bass keeps going in the intro.
Foreclosure of a Dream has some good melody playing all throughout it, while Sweating Bullets established the stop and start standard with the guitars and psychotic lyrics that makes it feel like someone is suffering from Multiple Personality Disorder. I also like the solo in This Was My Life.
These songs are at the point now to where Megadeth begins to fit in this mold that has the solos played toward the later half, a verse-chorus-verse composition and shorter play time with less beats per minute. Do I see a mainstream out pour with this one? Why yes of course! Even though the band had placed themselves in the ranks of metal history when "Rust in Peace Sells" (as I like t call it to combine their greatest achievements) came out the effort to get some radio airplay was spearheaded by this album. But like I mentioned, it was no disappointment the songs were still catchy and the riffs were still attractive to enthusiastic followers. The solos retained their style and tempo while the lyrics still spelled out to us listeners an impending doom. But this was not the same band anymore, something had been traded in. Meagadeth was walking a different path for now on and if no one had accepted that, they only had until the next few albums to see....
Two years after the release of Rust In Peace and just when the dust from their nuclear holocaust had began to settle down, Megadeth unleashed their fifth hit on humanity, titled just as properly, Countdown To Extinction. That self-centered bastard called Mustaine has almost totally expelled his self destructing tendencies that marched along with his genius, or even better, he fitted them in his music. He is following a procedure of cleansing and with the help of his teammates he creates another heavy metal masterpiece. He is being in peace with himself and has finally realized who he is and what he can offer.
It was a matter of time for Friedman and Menza to fully adjust themselves to the band and its needs and now they contribute to the song writing and the lyrics. Even the low-profile Dave Ellefson composed his own parts for the bass. If this not a sign of improvement then I don’t know what is. The chemistry of the album is based not on drugs and dope but on the friendly climate and bonding between the musicians. The music is very heavy, somewhat denying the speed chapter but investing on classic, traditional metal. The main ingredients of this album are inspiration, melody, technique and feeling. Most of the lyrics give out bitterness but at times they reflect optimism and hope. Once again Megadeth deal with a variety of themes like war, drugs, politics and even nature.
In terms of music, the basic elements of Megadeth are found here. From the weird singing of Mustaine, the firm bass guitar, the dynamic drums to the superb, typical riffs, this is a pure Megadeth album with less speed but with balls of metal. Friedman is once again in great shape and delivers tremendous guitar playing. His riffs are exciting and strong, his solos inspired and melodic without losing their metal feeling. Menza’s skillful drumming gives the appropriate push to the songs and Ellefson offers the best with his steady, firm bass lines. All these fit perfectly with the familiar vocals creating an insane atmosphere.
My favorite from the album is Architecture of Aggression, a mid-tempo song that has a simple riff, heavy enough to blow your head away. The hard drums and the beautiful breaks place it atop of the song list. Another fantastic track is Foreclosure of A Dream. It starts with a calm, acoustic intro but has many changes in pace that feature heavy electric guitars and some angry vocals. The lyrics are referring to the U.S. political system and how it helps the poor get even poorer! Mustaine has no problem in stabbing the knife deep in the heart of the government.
This Was My Life is a self-sarcastic song by Mustaine. His life had taken the wrong turn some years ago and with it he expresses his anger about his former state. It’s another half-speed track but very heavy indeed. Captive Honour has a very catchy riff and fine lines. Also notice the lyrics where the guard says: “Boy, your soul better belong to Jesus, ‘cause your ass belongs to me”. Isn’t that nice or what?
The self-titled song is though a bit mediocre since it doesn’t give out much energy. It is a mature song and well-composed but it sounds like it was meant to hit the radio charts. I do not blame them of a sellout, no way. I am only saying how it sounds. The song that basically reminds of the Rust In Peace era is the opener Skin O’ My Teeth. It is very fast and heavy, technical and melodic at the same time. It would certainly fit in a compilation of Megadeth best songs. On the other hand, the only filler in the album is Sweating Bullets, a song that has nothing interesting to offer, mediocre and boring and one that I personally despise.
Okay, let’s sum-up. With RIP, Megadeth reached the top of their creativity. It was a mortgage to complete perfection. Countdown To Extinction did not surpass its predecessor, maybe even not Peace Sells… However, it is a great album and a countdown not to extinction but to the birth of a new life and creation for the band since it marked the end of their speed/thrash days and the turn to more straight metal forms. If you don’t have it, I suggest you obtain it and enjoy 45 minutes of well played heavy metal.
Megadeth’s fifth full-length effort starts off well. A crisp yet gritty production backs a cool old-school riff and a pissed-off Mustaine. Yet something soon becomes apparent – Megadeth can’t keep it up. Most of the album sans a couple of songs either sucks or is painfully average. Such cuts as “Symphony of Destruction” and the title track lack the trademark Megadeth sound – this is by no means Rust in Peace II, or even KIMB II. It’s an entirely new entity, and not a good one, either.
Not to mention the album contains one of the most overrated “thrash metal” songs ever, up there with “One” by the neutered Metallica. A stop-start riff starts things off badly for “Symphony of Destruction,” followed by a predictable verse-chorus-verse structure… oh, and what’s this? A solo after the second, extended chorus? How predictable. It’s very boring and totally unworthy of its praise. I once heard someone say that “Megadeth’s only two good songs are ‘Hangar 18’ and ‘Symphony of Destruction.’” I’ll let that sink in for a minute.
Other tracks including “Architecture of Aggression” and “Foreclosure of a Dream” run together so much that some parts are nearly interchangeable. Originality and variety within the album is a rare thing, and this makes it difficult to listen to without getting bored. Throughout, Dave Mustaine really exposes the somewhat poor quality of his voice, which really doesn’t fit with the music any longer. He tends to use similar melodies for the duration of the album, making it even harder to tell certain songs apart. Megadeth employ samples, including bland gunfire and news programs, none of which are of any real use at all. Meanwhile, the spoken verses of “Sweating Bullets” are annoying beyond belief.
Riffs tend to consist of pre-metalcore chugging and some stop-start patterns, interspersed with some improperly used and weak-sounding acoustic guitars. None are the least bit imaginative, and most could fit into any of the eleven songs and nothing would really change between them. The bass no longer maims like it did in earlier works, such as “Take No Prisoners.” It has become equivalent in importance to a typical AC/DC album. Drums are uniformly boring as well. Lyrics are now inane and devoid of power, unlike older songs like “Rust in Peace … Polaris.” Mustaine sounds like a little kid who hates George H.W. Bush just because his parents do.
However, there are some good qualities to the album, such as the previously stated “Skin of My Teeth,” and some catchiness in some parts, like the chorus to “High Speed Dirt,” the coolest title on Countdown to Extinction. In actuality, though, these parts are overshadowed by the average to downright insipid majority of the album.
Mustaine must have been trying to achieve the monstrous success of the Black Album, something that doesn’t seem to make much sense considering his hateful stance towards Metallica. Unfortunately, Megadeth’s fifth album constitutes an end to the breakneck thrash of old, again just like Metallica. Let’s hope the upcoming album at least manages to be better than the era beginning with Countdown to Extinction.
I like to consider this album as Megadeth’s And Justice for All….It is by far a superb album. It has some of the greatest songs ever written by Deth just like Metallica’s 4th album. Unfortunately, it seems that while progressing in the musical ranks Megadeth seemed to lose some of its raw edge. Just a chip, not a complete break. This is possibly the album where Megadeth strays form the thrash roots and move into a more traditional heavy metal approach. Songs are noticeably slower but still have aggression. Marty Friedman and Nick Menza prove not to be one hit wonders and the metal community establishes them as masters of their respective instruments. Maybe it is because they stopped taking so many drugs on this album (not NEARLY as much) but a pivotal turning point occurred during this album.
Regardless of a change of pace Countdown is an awesome album. It is absolutely stacked with great songs. Dark and mysterious songs like “Symphony of Destruction”, “Sweating Bullets” and “Countdown to Extinction” define the album best. Besides being kick-ass songs it really lets you see the mad genius of Dave Mustaine. Songs about politics, mental disease and environmentalism let you see what was really on his mind when he wrote these tracks. The atmosphere of the guitar can be described as “doomier” than previous four albums. But let me not describe this record as a slow album by far. Fist pumping, headbanging cuts like “Skin O’ My Teeth” and”High Speed Dirt” are nasty and speedy. Fillers are mostly inevitable in every album but Megadeth seems almost to bring a sense of humor to them as heard in “Captive Honor”. Just listen and you will what I mean, I kind of don’t want to kill it.
This album can not categorized completely as a transformation album, because elements of Megadeth prior to Rust in Peace are resurrected. Remember how there was not one clean part. Softer more melodic parts can be heard throughout the album. The cause could have been from more input on the writing from the other band members rather than the Daves. David Elllefson role in this album has been slightly diminished and you wont here any parts like you did in rust. Marty Friedman has some of his best solos on this album. After hearing this man will start to appreciate him as an excellent sweeper. Dave Mustaine‘s riffs are less focused on his classic Chug-A-Chu and simpler in rhythm. The amps finally do have indication that Megadeth do have mids on their amps unlike previous albums. Nick Menza is not as great as RIP but defiantly solid except for his annoying high cymbal which can get annoying.
In conclusion this CD gets a 95.Why? It is one of the band’s greatest works but over time you will find yourself forgetting or skipping over certain tracks. Songs like “Foreclosure of a Dream” and “This Was My Life” wane over the classic hits of the rest of the album. Also the tempo changes on this album sound similar. A little too similar. However, that is NOOO excuse on why a metalhead should not have this album. Instant classic pure and simple.
Sickest Songs “Skin O My Teeth” “Symphony of Destruction” “Architecture of Aggression” “Countdown to Extinction” “High Speed Dirt”
One of the principle differences between 80s thrash and Power metal is the level of emphasis on structure. Where as Power Metal takes the route of story telling through the riffs and is heavily focused on riff development, Thrash takes a more simplistic route in the rhythm section and instead varies the structure with multiple solos. One thing to understand is that although these differences are a bit subtle, they are noteworthy and are what contrast this album from MegaDeth's earlier works.
Dave Mustaine is believed to have been trying to compete with Metallica's Black Album on this release (a band that pretty much stole their original early 80s sound from him), and this is probably the case, but the result has been quite different. While MegaDeth has slowed down some of their songs, we still have some fairly high speed killers on here. What has been changed is the level of melody versus soloing.
The remnants of MegaDeth's 80s material are highly obvious, "Skin of my teeth" is super fast, and showcases Nick Menza doing a rather brilliant drum intro. "High Speed Dirt" is slightly slower, but loaded with amazing and equally thrashy riffs. "Ashes in your mouth" showcases both Dave's and Marty's amazing chops on lead, as well as the bands ability to pump out an amazing thrash epic.
So where do the more "Power Metal" influenced stuff stand out? Here it's mostly found in the slower tracks, which is a bit unusual. The title track has the atmospheric aspects that can be found on some Gamma Ray and Blind Guardian work, but mostly it's the anthem-like quality of the overall song that push it towards this genre. Good examples include tracks like "Foreclosure of a Dream", "Psychotron" "Symphony of Destruction" and "Sweating Bullets", which display this changeover, although they still carry guitar riffs more of the thrash variety.
The remaining tracks sort of dance around between being catchy and being thrash. "This was my life" is yet another rehash of a classic song that Mustaine originally wrote of Metallica in "Phantom Lord", although a good bit slower. "Captive Honour" has some interesting guitar work on it, but suffers greatly in the lyrical department. Although I do enjoy spoken interludes, this one is just plain comical, and unfortunately for MegaDeth this was not what they were shooting for, and as such it lacks the tongue-in-cheek and lighthearted nature that band like Helloween bring to some of their songs.
To the prospective buyer who doesn't already own this, "Countdown to Extinction" is MegaDeth's second most accessible album if you are a non-thrash oriented metal newbie (Cryptic Writings was the most accessible), but it is still one that can be appreciated by traditional thrash fans. I personally prefer earlier masterpieces like "Peace Sells" and "Rust in Peace", but this ranks high in my MegaDeth collection. I recommended it highly.
This is one of those records which earn so disputes that I can arguably discuss with anybody because everybody, at some point, is right about it, either that it was a sellout, that it is too soft, too slow, or that it is one if the best Megadeth’s albums ever put out. Thus, it forces me to give this review about it with the risk of dislike some people and agree with the agreeable.
Following the course with Metallica’s Black Album, Speed Metal in America went Heavy Metal and commercial at all levels. Gone were the thrashy songs and fast tempos with lost of double bass. Thus, Megadeth was not the exception. With Countdown to Extinction they replaced the speed of PSBWIB and RIP for catchier songs with memorable melodies and radio friendly. This is no bad if the songs are good. Therefore, what we get here is a memorable speed/heavy metal album that will remain as one of the best Megadeth albums whatsoever.
Symphony of Destruction is definitely the best known Megadeth song, its catchy riff and melody got a lot of airplay. The song by itself is cool, simple, without technical parts, the only bad thing to me is the solo, too uninspired, thou the lyrics are good too.
Foreclosure of a Dream follows and it is like a heavy ballad for the 90’s. Again a ultra catchy melody, double bass (really soft and not fast at all). The solo is more rhythm than ripping but the song has a good mood.
Sweating bullets, as almost everybody said is the bizarre song from the album, juxtaposed vocals, passages, again a catchy riff and a psycho video is more than we can hold, which is good for the 90’s pshycodelia. The song is good by all means.
Psychotron has a very good riff although the pace is kind of weird, again, a catchy melody which stands by itself, actually, Symphony and Psycho were the first two songs I listened to from Megadeth back when I was about 14 or 15 years I guess, so catchy they are that until today I love the band, all because those two.
Ashes in your Mouth closes, a fast song ala Megadeth, perfect speed metal and although the speed metal distortion is not really present but the technical skills are.
Finally, the production is top notch and all I can say is that although is not the best Megadeth album is one of the good ones, it was a standard, just like the Black Album, for that period of time and comparing with the even more ‘’suicidetanasia’’, cryptic and risky albums following, this one still stands in a troubling time for metal.
This was where Megadeth began to streamline their sound to attract more fans. This means much of the thrash from the previous albums is lost in favour of more mid-tempo numbers. The riffs are not as technical either. Still, this album is by no means a total disaster.
Ashes In Your Mouth is easily the highlight. It's tucked away right at the end of the album but it's a great way to finish off. It's the only song that sounds like it could have been on Rust In Peace. This also has some of my favourite lyrics by the band. The faster section that begins just before the solo owns! I especially like the way the song ends with the same riff being repeated over and over as the song fades out! Killer song! One of my all-time favourite Megadeth tunes!
While nothing else on here can come close to the greatness of that song, Skin O' My Teeth and High Speed Dirt are both faster paced songs with great riffs. Nothing to rival Five Magics but they are well-crafted nonetheless
Symphony Of Destruction is probably the band's best known song. While I used to love it, I have grown tired of hearing it over and over during the years. Still, I'd rather hear this than 99.9% of what get's played on the radio these days. Swaeting Bullets is notable for its odd structure and Dave's vocal interplay. This song also fetaured a memorable video with multiple Mustaines! Imagine being trapped in a room with them!
Foreclosure Of A Dream is a decent ballad although Megadeth's definitive example of this style would occur on their next album. This Was My Life has a nice main riff and decent lyrics. The rest of the songs are fairly unremarkable but there's nothing truly atrocious. Unlike some of their later albums....
This album would have been seen in a better light had it not been the follow-up to Rust In Peace. It's arguably the best album Megadeth released between 1992-2007 before they made a great comeback with United Abominations. Even though, it's not the best the band has to offer, it's still a very good album worthy of your time.
With 1992’s “Countdown to Extinction” Megadeth follows the lead of Metallica, and their 1991 self titled album, by trading in their lengthy, progressive compositions for streamlined, tightly written and played songs more conducive to radio and MTV airplay. But don’t cry out “sellout” as this still maintains its artistic credibility.
The there is a definite glossy sheen to the production, which is in an improvement. While this may take much of the harsher edge to the music away, it makes it more accessible and gives it more oomph. And clearly this worked, as the album went to #2 on the music charts, and became Megadeth’s most successful album.
Now some may scream “sellout” at Megadeth for “Countdown to Extinction”, but why? There is still solid heavy metal, but now it the fat has been cut away. They didn’t loose any musical credibility, or change drastically to achieve success. If you put this on next to anything before “Rust In Peace”, you will still know it’s the same band (you can’t say the same for some bands) but with better production. That’s all. Another element is the more melodic direction, presumably to attract more fans, but that still does not diminish the integrity of the band.
Maybe the one curious element of “Countdown to Extinction” is the fact that just a few years back Megadeth was thrashing in the underground, firmly against the chart topping pop-metal bands like Motley Crue, yet now they are trying to top the charts. How times change.
Maybe the biggest difference from the previous album, “Rust in Peace” is that Marty Friedman no longer shreds at will. He provides some very good solos (along with one blues breakdown in “High Speed Dirt”), but this isn’t a shred fest anymore. So if you like copious amounts of shredding check out “Rust in Peace” first.
With all this change to a more stream lined approach it would be reasonable to think that there are many more individual songs that are good, which would be correct. The key tracks on “Countdown to Extinction” are “Skin O’ My Teeth”, “Symphony of Destruction”, “Foreclosure of a Dream”, “Sweating Bullets”, and the title track “Countdown to Extinction”.
Overall Megadeth’s “Countdown to Extinction” is in no way a sellout, it is still a vibrant heavy metal album. This is essential for any fan of Megadeth.
Over their careers, many big bands change the style of music they play. Metallica, once the biggest thrash metal band in the world, softened up their sound to a more accessible, mainstream style of metal. Judas Priest changed their sound many, many times; with styles ranging from classic metal, to a more hard rock sound, as well as speed metal, and even a stint in hair metal. Even Gothenburg Metallers, In Flames, have experimented with new sounds.
Megadeth, one of the "Big Four" bands of thrash metal also changed up their music. The band had released four excellent thrash albums, with two of them being considered thrash masterpieces, Rust in Peace in 1990 and Peace Sells…But Who's Buying in 1988. In 1992, the band opted for a more accessible release, entered the studio, and came out with Countdown to Extinction, the band's most successful album to date. Countdown to Extinction reached #2 in the American charts. In the long run, this was probably the worst thing that could have happened to the band. According to the album's linear notes, Megadeth's main man, Dave Mustaine, was very upset that the album didn't hit the coveted #1 spot in the charts. The band wanted to reach #1 so much that they got progressively poppier until their 1999 album, Risk. None of the albums coming after Countdown – Youthanasia, Cryptic Writings, and Risk – ever reached #1, and none of them sold as well as Countdown to Extinction either.
Just like when Metallica released the famous Black Album, detractors of Megadeth screamed "sellout" after the release of the album. But there is none of that here. With Countdown to Extinction, Megadeth still produced some excellent metal. This time, rather than recording a heavy, technical riff-fest like they did on Rust in Peace, Dave and Co. played simpler, more melodic tunes that will appeal more to the average listener. Songs such as Captive Honour, Countdown to Extinction, and This Was My Life, displayed this more melodic approach to metal, particularly the title track, with its fantastic bridges and interludes. But the album still showcases a heavier side to Megadeth. Songs such as Architecture of Aggression, Pyschotron, Ashes in Your Mouth, and Megadeth's biggest hit, Symphony of Destruction, prove to listeners that the band still retains its heaviness. Also remaining on Countdown are Marty Friedman's amazing guitar solos. While he doesn’t shred like he does on Hangar 18 or Holy Wars…The Punishment Due, he has some exciting moments on the album such as the solo in Symphony of Destruction, or Ashes in Your Mouth.
Countdown to Extinction is home to some of Megadeth's strangest moments and songs. The first is one of the singles, Sweating Bullets. The song starts off with a simple, yet eerie guitar riff, which is followed by a long spoken section in which Dave talks to himself. The spoken section is bitter and sarcastic, mocking Dave and how he lives. The spoken part represents the split personalities and voices that may or may not have actually been inside Dave's head at the time. The album contains several of these spoken sections, and at times the can be pretty entertaining. "Well me, it's been nice talking to myself"… The band would explore this technique again in a later song titled, Dread and the Fugitive Mind. Another slightly odd part of Countdown to Extinction shows up on the tenth song, Captive Honour. The song contains an amusing dialogue between the band members with the scene depicting an on going trial at a courthouse. The dialogue fits into the song's themes, and reminds me of all those short tracks in between songs in a concept album that are there merely to move the story along (See Blind Guardian's Nightfall in Middle Earth, it’s got a dozen of them).
I like Dave's vocals on Countdown to Extinction a lot more than on any other album. Dave Mustaine's singing style is a love it or hate it kind of thing. Those who enjoy listening to Dave belt out the his lyrics in Rust in Peace or Peace Sells will love his singing in Countdown, while those who dislike them will have to look for some other redeeming quality in the music, as Megadeth relies on Dave's singing quite a lot. In my opinion, his vocals are at their best, especially on the title track, Architecture of Aggression, and Captive Honour. Dave's voice sounds really great with the melodic style of music found on this album, and are as catchy as they will ever be. I think his vocals are more suited to the lighter sound of Countdown, Youthanasia, and Cryptic Writings, rather than the gritty, harsher vocals needed for an album like Killing is My Business.
Countdown to Extinction was Megadeth's first step into the world of mainstream music. Despite softening up the sound, the music still remains enjoyable and the band still maintains its identity, something that the band lacked in albums like Risk. Though the band opted for a lighter album (and it isn't exactly light to begin with) traces of the bands former thrash metal sound can still be found on songs such as Architecture of Aggression or Ashes in Your Mouth. Countdown to Extinction is no Rust in Peace, but it is a very enjoyable ride that anybody can enjoy.
(Originally written for Sputnikmusic)
Megadeth has always been in my top 10 favorite bands. Releasing classics like ‘Rust In Peace,’ ‘Peace Sells… But Who’s Buying?,’ ‘So Far, So Good… So What?,’ ‘Killing Is My Business… And Business Is Good!’ and… yes, ‘Countdown To Extinction.’
Many fans consider this the album when Megadeth finally sold out. I don’t. ‘Countdown To Extinction’ may be their last amazing thrash record, and it is definitely not bad. It does have its weaker sides, but it also does contain many unforgettable songs.
First of, let me start of by saying this album IS slower than Megadeth’s previous releases. It IS less heavy. But that is not necessarily bad. It does have many pluses as well. ’Countdown To Extinction’ is also Dave Mustaine and Co.’s catchiest release, and something that will stay with you for some time.
There are a couple songs on this album that are necessary to mention. Firstly… ‘Symphony Of Destruction.’ Although not as heavy and raw as anything off of ‘Rust In Peace,’ ‘Symphony Of Destruction’ does have a strong riff base, good rhythm, and a very catchy flow overall. Perhaps something not expected from Megadeth, but it is not a bad change at all. ‘Sweating Bullets’ is another important song on here, as it is probably the catchiest song Megadeth has ever written. It starts off with a couple good riffs, and suddenly we hear Mustaine talking to himself, starting out yet another great song.
‘This Was My Life’ is another great and catchy song, as is the title track, ‘Countdown To Extinction.’ Although it does seem a bit more commercialized, it is nowhere NEAR as commercial as, say, Metallica’s Black Album, which was released around the same time. And yes, compared to the Black Album, ‘Countdown To Extinction’ is better by far.
Dave Mustaine’s voice and style of singing didn’t change much on this release from the previous ones, and his singing is the same raspy scratchy voice that we’re all used to and that most of us love. As I said, the huge change in this album is the catchiness. The choruses are catchy. The solos are catchy. The riffs are catchy. Every goddamn thing on this album is catchy! It is obvious that Dave Mustaine and Co. were trying to go for a top seller, and attempted to give us something memorable and more enjoyable to the public rather than just thrash lovers. Because yes, this album does have more rock elements and less metal than the other Megadeth releases.
Another thing I found I loved on here is the production. Especially on the releases, the sound is crystal-clear and perfect. Mixing is great as well, which provide a great listening experience. Of course, all of Megadeth’s albums are known for their amazing production.
Again, let me go back to describing one song. ‘Ashes In Your Mouth’ is the last song on the album, and it is probably the best song on the album. No, this one does not contain any rock elements, or at least, not nearly as many as the other tracks. This song is pure thrash, and seems like something that could easily belong on ‘Rust In Peace.’ It’s funny how Mustaine put the songs right there at the end of the album, almost unnoticeable.
So, what are some of the bad elements? Other than the couple songs I mentioned I liked, the rest are just alright. There are a couple song on here whose major problem is that they are trying to be so… soft. Perhaps to be radio-friendly? That would be my guess. And I don’t like it. It’s obvious Mustaine wrote half of the album to be radio-friendly and commercial, while the other half he attempted to stay true to his fans. (Such as in ‘Ashes In Your Mouth.’) Although the more commercialized songs aren’t technically that bad, they do have a tendency to start to bore you if you listen to them more than like three times, and in the end you tend to skip them, making them fillers, although they were never intended that way by Mustaine.
Overall, it IS a good album. Some changes from Megadeth, but nothing that’s not worth giving a listen and adjusting to. Hell, you might find to like some of the changes. If not… It’s still Megadeth. You can definitely hear their older stuff included in here too. Think of it as a slightly slower yet catchier ‘Rust In Peace.’ ;)
I want to get this out of the way first: Countdown to Extinction is a letdown.
In Dave’s heyday Megadeth was great, which is why it’s all the more difficult to listen to an album released by them which is so watered down. This isn’t about the clean production, because that’s hardly bothersome. I’m not even talking about Megadeth “selling out” or its radio-friendly tendencies here; Mustaine didn’t “sell out” until the late nineties, and 1994’s Youthanasia was Megadeth’s most radio-friendly album at the time (although this still did better than Youthanasia on the charts). And lemme tell ya: Youthanasia is easily better than this. Even if Youthanasia wouldn’t have been as much of a natural and logical progression from Rust In Peace than this was (and it would’ve been harder to accept by the diehard ‘Deth fans), it is nowhere near as uneven or forgettable as this.
If the only ‘Deth song you’ve heard is Symphony of Destruction, it’s hard to imagine why this is such a letdown. I know I found it hard to imagine; After all, Rust In Peace had imaginative riffs to spare, scores of beautiful solos and is just a beautiful album all ‘round and Symphony was a simple yet effective track… so, why are a quarter of the tracks here both exorbitantly simple and bland? For those who have listened to this album, I am of course talking about This Was My Life, Foreclosure of a Dream, Countdown to Extinction and Captive Honour (although to be fair, Captive Honour has a catchy chorus, I’ll give it that). I’ve listened to this album time and time again and I don’t have to have the album playing every time I want to evaluate it, yet I had to use fucking Wikipedia just to remember these tracks, that’s how forgettable they are. Altogether these songs are as basic as all shit and lack the crunch that any one of the good songs have. To top it all off, if I was held hostage by a group of terrorists, had a gun pointed at my head and had to memorize the choruses of these four songs in under five minutes, I’d only be able to remember the lines “Foreclosure of a dream” and “Captive honour, ain’t no honour” before having my brains blown out. That’s pretty much all I can remember from these: Not even three lines from four different choruses. It may seem selfish to blame the album for my forgetfulness, but keep in mind that I’ve listened to this album more times than I care to count and I’ve owned it for at least a year now.
Further, some of these tracks are so dull that it’s disheartening just listening to how hard the boys are trying NOT to go ballistic with their guitars and drums just for the sake of trying to achieve radio airplay. I’m aware that Megadeth were trying to progress, but this was only the second album with Friedman, yet it sounds like any schlub could have played these notes... or at least, most of them. The Friedman/Mustaine combo had only lasted for one album before this one, and dammit, that’s a fucking crime if there ever was one.
Furthermore, Dave: I love you man, in fact I idolize you, but when it comes to Psychotron and High Speed Dirt… just stick to your usual subject matter. Pretty please? Really folks, you could be the last person on planet Earth stuck in a hangar one hundred miles away from the nearest oasis, and listening to these tracks would still be embarrassing. Don’t get me wrong, these tracks aren’t necessarily bad, they’re just… Eeeungh. That’s the best word I could use to sum these up: Eeeungh. It’s also odd how upbeat these tracks are considering the demeanor of the others.
However, take all of these qualms out of the equation, and you’ve got yourself some very tight tracks. The aforementioned Symphony of Destruction has both catchy verses and a chorus, but are both catchy in completely different ways, and this would have to be the best example of a Megadeth song in which its simplicity and slower pace work to its strengths. We’re all familiar with Megadeth’s precision and mind-blowing technicality along with their overall attitude and subject matter, and we know how well this works with the speed of their earlier material. Remove the speed but retain everything else, and you’re left with Symphony, which is the type of song that every mediocre track on this album should have been in order to have made Countdown the true logical progression from RIP that it’s usually made out to be. Skin O’ My Teeth, Architecture of Aggression and Sweating Bullets follow the same basic pattern but have varying degrees of speed. Naturally the opening track, Skin O’ My Teeth, is the fastest, while Sweating Bullets is placed near the middle of the album and is slower. Make no mistake, it all works well.
The album closer, Ashes In Your Mouth, is the longest track here and is easily my favorite of the album. Chalk it up to my fondness for the more thrashy type of metal (which this album usually doesn’t try to be) or for its speed or for whatever, but I cannot accurately describe, in objective terms, why this is better than the good tracks on this album. If I could hazard a guess though, I’d say it’s because after all of the bullshit tracks here, this arrives like a shining beacon of awesomeness and reminds us of all the good tracks on this album as well as ‘Deth classics from the distant past and make us forget about the monotonousness of the others. Even on its own, it’s a great thrash song. Again: Make no mistake, this definitely works, and if this album had ended one track earlier it would’ve been a big miss.
Overall, if your Megadeth collection isn’t quite complete yet (save for the Risk and Cryptic Writings albums), then skip this one and stock up on the good shit before coming back to this. The reason this gets a 60 is because despite its downfalls, it doesn’t deserve any less than the equivalent of a three-star rating. After all, it IS Megadeth. However, I cannot in good conscience give it any more than that. It’s a C-grade album; If you’re looking to build a metal collection, you wouldn’t start here. If you’ve got a hankerin’ for some Megadeth, then you’d be interested in this… but be warned, you won’t be blown away by any means.
This album and all of the albums following it are seen to be a black mark in Megadeth's career by many people. People even compare it to things as bad as Metallica's Black Album or even Load but listen up - this isn't Groove Metal like the Black Album or Modern Rock like Load, it sure isn't thrash that Megadeth played in the past but this is pure heavy metal that pays homage to the early days of Maiden and in particular Priest. Let’s check out the early heavy metal that Priest pioneered with Killing Machine or Screaming for Vengeance. Catchy - Check, Heavy - Check, Excellent Leads - Check, Good Vocals - Well, check (surprise!).
Yes, Dave does further the power metal touch he acquired on Rust in Peace both vocally and musically and dismantles a lot of thrash. The album is simplified, catchy, melodic and most importantly emotional. There are brilliant solos and several catchy choruses splashed all over the album and its heavy enough to keep any heavy metal fan happy. There is thrash here and there especially on the tracks Ashes in Your Mouth, Architecture of Aggression and Skin O' My Teeth but overall the album relies a lot on emotional and catchy pure heavy metal. People seem to have a common misconception that catchy is poppy and you just have to play really heavy to be metal but this is truly a misconception as heavy metal is supposed to be catchy as the best heavy metal that which was pioneered by Maiden, Priest and W.A.S.P. is catchy as hell.
Heavy metal CAN appeal to radio too as Priest's hit singles have shown and therefore I bear no grudge against this album selling a lot or Symphony Of Destruction which many underplay as radio-friendly and even though Symphony has a very simple riffset, its darn heavy, has good vocals and that solo in the mid-section is pure class. Rust In Peace gave the mainstream a glimpse of Megadeth and this album (and song - Symphony Of Destruction) very well catapulted them into the mainstream which means that Deth would naturally be abused by metal fans but this very record has many heavy metal classics on it such as the aforementioned Symphony Of Destruction, This Was My Life, Architecture Of Aggression The title track, Captive Honor and the title track.
Skin O' My Teeth is one of the faster and thrashier moments of the album and is extremely powerful and catchy, Dave's vocals here are just alright though and sometimes downright annoying in the chorus. Next Symphony of Destruction is as I mentioned simple riff-wise but heavy and extremely catchy with some really rough vocals by Dave which only he seems to be capable of, watch out for that solo. Architecture of Aggression is heavier and more of a thrash cut and that intro would really make you think you’re up for something good. Yes, the song is good and it also has some well-thought out lyrics about war tactics and even has a very catchy chorus. Foreclosure of a Dream is a slower song and is basically Youthanasia/Power Metal, a pretty enjoyable song but not really up to the standards the album is really capable of. Sweating Bullets has some nice riffs and lunatic lyrics which Dave also shows well in his vocals. This Was My Life is one of the albums classics – heavy riffing, very nice vocals by Dave and extremely catchy chorus which co-ordinate with each other so well that it’s more or less a perfect song. Next is the title track which is slow and has another very catchy chorus and cool lyrics and solos ending up as a total classic. High Speed Dirt is a mediocre song with fast riffs and good melody but altogether doesn’t make you pay real attention to it. Psychotron has strange lyrics and though there’s heavy riffing here and a pretty catchy chorus – even it’s nothing to bother about.
Captive Honour follows and let me tell you – even if it has those judge and gangster voices it’s a total classic! You know why? Dave’s vocals are very emotional here, the guitar riffing is awesome, extremely catchy chorus and that solo section in the near end is just totally rules. The song builds up layer by layer perfectly and is in my opinion the albums best song. Ashes In Your Mouth is the ending thrasher and would surely appeal to even a thrash purist, its aggressive and Mustaine’s sneering and Menza’s perfect drumming really makes it a classic. The especially brilliant part is when Mustaine says “If your fighting to live/Its okay to die – Welcome to tomorrow!” Pure class and an awesome way to end the album.
Buy this album if you want emotional, catchy heavy metal but if you expect thrash like the olden days – stay away. This album is built perfectly for metal fans in general and should remain in your CD player for quite some time like me.
Countdown To Extinction is my third Megadeth purchase, and an eight dollar purchase, at that. I bought their Capitol Punishment album shortly after it came out, figuring I probably wouldn't buy another Megadeth album. It was loaded with tracks from the mediocre Cryptic Writings, however, and wasn't really that good. Then, having been convinced that Peace Sells... But Who's Buying was the band's best work, I bought it, only to find that the title track was the only real standout. Having been somewhat disappointed with Megadeth, I didn't figure I'd buy anything else from them, but I saw this album at a used record store, and I figured, what the hell, it's only eight bucks...
I'd hafta say this is my favourite Megadeth album of the three. It's not as fast as Peace Sells, which may be a bad thing for people into thrash, but overall, I think it's a better album, as the songs are catchier and more memorable.
The album starts off with a pretty fast track in Skin O' My Teeth, and then goes into the megahit Symphony of Destruction. While I liked this song the first time I heard it, after hearing it several times on radio, at hockey games, etc, it's lost some of its appeal. Its fairly simplistic, and while the verses are easy to memorize, they're nothing too profound.
The next two tracks are nothing memorable. Architecture of Agression is a decent thrashy piece, but nothing to write home about. Foreclosure of a Dream has a stupid accoustic intro, and while the song evenutally picks up the pace, it's nothing special either.
The middle of the album, however, is what makes it worth buying. Fifth track Sweating Bullets is, in my opinion, Dave Mustaine's greatest composition. As displayed on earlier songs like Peace Sells, Mustaine employs what I refer to as the "Call And Answer" lyric technique, where one line asks a question or makes a statement, and the next line answers it, if you will. This song, a tale of a schizoprenic psychopath, is perhaps the best example of "Call And Answer" lyrics I've ever heard, and it's got a pretty cool bridge/chorus too. Definitely my fav Megadeth song.
The next few tracks, This Was My Life, (a great "Hey, why don't I murder my girlfriend?" song) Countdown To Extinction, and High Speed Dirt are all great songs, and while the ninth and tenth tracks Psychotron (stupidest Mustaine lyrics I've ever heard) and Captive Honour (a failed experiment using voices of a judge, or something) are pretty lame, it ends on a high note with the thrasher Ashes In Your Mouth.
Overall, I'd say that Countdown To Extinction is well above average. I'd give it ten percent for every dollar I paid for it. (Plus a couple bonus points; sales tax, ya know?)
Upon the opening of Skin o' My Teeth, I was under the impression that Megadeth were possibly staying with their thrash roots but eventually figured this is far from the case. The traces of thrash metal are still on this album but essentially heavy metal is a more accurate description. Songs like Symphony of Destruction with a punishing heavy metal riffage and surprisingly Dave Mustaine has made more of an attempt to sing this time around and the guitar melodies are a bit catchier in an accessible manner. I for one applaud Mustaine for giving an added dimension to CTE's sound but despite a very good musical performance it just doesn't quite feel up to par with classic metal releases like Peace Sells or Rust In Peace. Less thrash(as stated before), simplified melodies but not to the point of being watered down at all. They would continue in this path until it finally ends up biting them in the *ss! (See Risk)
After Symphony of Destruction, Architecture of Aggression kicks your ass with some quality heavy/thrash metal with Mustaine attempting to sing again in the chorus. Mixed success, the solo's once again didnt feel as amazing as older material. Foreclosure of a Dream is a love it or hate it track. On this track you see an excellent acoustic arpeggio with one of the better guitar solo's of the album with some of Mustaine's more memorable vocal performances. Sweating Bullets is just kick ass. Regardless of Mustaine's lyrics/vocals on this being a little cuckoo(which Dave handles quite well), the riff at 2 minutes is pure thrash and one of the best on this album. Quite simply put this song is a riff-fest if there was any on this album. Pretty decent guitar solo as well. This was My Life is a great track but not particularly memorable. High Speed Dirt is another one of CTE's more kick ass songs. Great riffs, guitar solo = YEA!!!. Captive Honour overall (lyrically, vocally, instrumentally) is one of the most interesting and solid tracks on here. Ashes in Your Mouth is an excellent way to end this album. One of the better intro riffs and arguably best guitar solo on this album! One of the heavier, progressive and more memorable cuts this album has to offer.
Sadly I also tend to concur with many fellow reviewers who feel this album in part was Dave Mustaine's answer to The Black Album. I don't see the need for this competition. I'm not here to criticize but Mustaine never needed to compete with Hetfield. Any non-corrupted Metallica fan or regular music fan will tell you album sales mean nothing to determine the best music. (britney over megadeth)? This was one of the last real good Megadeth albums that were able to maintain its patent Megadeth edge while holding a certain degree of accessibility and catchiness never seen before in thrash. I applaud Mustaine for trying new things (even incorporating a part of female vocals) which contributed to making this an impressive release but it wont ever surpass megadeth's 80's classic albums imho! Still an essential Megadeth album and a pretty good starting point for Megadeth.
Countdown to Extinction was released in 1992 after Deth's most acclaimed album Rust In Peace that struck the thrash world by force. Megadeth's next album "Countdown" saw the band take more of a Rockish/Commercial Metal turn not nessesarily for the worst. Bands need to keep doing new things, because who really wants to hear the same album constantly from a band? Bands need new direction or a change of light, thus Countdown came into play with megadeth's less thrashy side. There are many excellent tracks on here which rarly get any attention like Skin O' My Teeth, Architecture of Aggression, Foreclosure of a Dream, Psychotron, Captive Honour not to mention others. This album has flawless production, and they obviously spent plenty of time in the studio perfecting each and every track. Although alot of Deth fan's point out that this is where the band started their rain down the drain song and career wise, I strongly disagree because this is still excellent heavy metal music. No matter how commercial this may be I still love this to peices. . The superb musicianship is still here with Menza, Friedman, Mustaine, and Ellefson. Easily their best line up to date they storm through a firery inferno of songs that are bound to make anyone think. Eventhing is in the right place on here, and the cd clocks in at 47:26. Oh man i remember the good old days back in high school where i used to crack this in my car stereo ah those were the days. All the tracks are highly memorable, and oh yeah Max Norman Produces this album. Dave Mustaine tries alot of new singing styles with this album as well (see Sweating Bullets and Captive Honour). This sees the band experimenting alittle bit which really causes no harm to the listener because this is still classic deth. The solos are still shreddinly good, as well as the bass and everything else for that matter. This album basically got me into Megadeth and Metal itself for that matter. So i think many metal fans owe their metal addictions to this album.
Enjoy Countdown to Extinction.
Best Tracks:Skin O' My Teeth, Architecture of Aggression, Foreclosure of a Dream, Sweatign Bullets, Countdown to Extinction, Psychotron, Ashes in Your Mouth, Captive Honour
Mustaine really wanted to create something that stood up to The Black Album as a heavy metal legend. Fortunately, he failed. The album only sold like 6 million copies, and it rocks far harder than Selloutica's nineties efforts ever could.
However, the songwriting was really simplified a few notches on this album. There are flashes of awesome lead guitar here and there, but the melodies aren't quite as integrated with the riffs as they were on previous albums. As opposed to combining the two, most songs seem to be based simply on two or three riffs, with the leads thrown in seemingly as a necessary afterthought.
That said, this may be Megadeth's catchiest album - Sweating Bullets, Symphony of Destruction, High Speed Dirt, and others are just too fun to easily let go. In the vein of Laaz Rockit's "Know Your Enemy", this is one of those albums that can be memorised after three or four listens.
Some of the weaker tracks are Foreclosure of a Dream and the title track, which all start out soft and build up, in a generally conventional and altogether boring manner - this seems to be where Mustaine wanted a radio hit, and if I recall correctly, he got it with a few tracks here. But the songs aren't exactly interesting. Also, Captive Honour has that silly intro that I can do without.
The best song on here: Ashes in Your Mouth. This is a well-developed thrash classic (of course it's hidden at the very end of the album) that could have been on Rust in Peace. It's got some killer riffs, and the lead work is very nice, as it complements the underlying riff changes in the middle quite well.
Overall, a decent album - definitely not at all bad, just a bit too polished and commercial at times.