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The moment you set your eyes on 'So Far, So Good...So What?', you know there's something wrong with it. You don't really want to touch it, or you feel a little nervous about listening to it, or maybe there's a little fear thrown in there too. For me, it's the cover, as it so often is. That's a fucked up front cover for an album, not just because you know that dummy is wearing a uniform from a museum, which always smell stale and earthy and terrifying for no particular reason, but also because the Earth is appearing over his right shoulder, so we have to assume he's on the moon, which I can't explain at all. For grammar hounds, there's also the uncapitalised album title written in a primary school font that seems to say "Class 4A, presentation week...enjoy yourself". For those familiar with Megadeth, this album regrettably doesn't have any of the signature artwork, though that is supposed to be Vic Rattlehead...not that he's very easy to distinguish. The song titles are a warning too: there's a number ('502'), a woman's name ('Mary Jane'), a cover (Sex Pistols' 'Anarchy in the U.K.'), and an instrumental. For an 8 song album, that doesn't bode well.
We don't quite end up with bargain bin Megadeth, but this is the closest they came in the 80s. The first song on the album that I look forward to is 'Mary Jane', the fourth song. And fuck, that one's brilliant. The introduction is 20 seconds of everything getting thrown around - narration, lead fragments, time changes - and then it settles down into a mid-paced melodic riff and it's perfect from then on. Dave Mustaine manages to deliver coherent and emotional lyrics about a witch and her persecution, including the great line "If I know I'm going crazy, I must not be insane". The lead work is beautiful here too. The next song that I really like is 'Liar', the seventh, which has plenty of energy and spunk, then I also like 'Hook in Mouth' for lyrics and instrumental ideas. I'm not great at maths, but that seems to be three out of eight.
I'm being very critical, but that's what one should be about this album. Dave Mustaine only turned out 6 proper songs, one of which is lazy (that's '502'), and the general quality isn't there to make all of those songs great. 'Set the World Afire' isn't a bad song at all, but sometimes when I listen to the riffs I feel frustrated, because some of them do so little, just chugging or moving on simple patterns. It's an old song, one of the band's first, and at times that's what it sounds like, as if it hasn't been updated since 1983. 'In My Darkest Hour' suffers too, whatever status that song has achieved: acoustic opening aside, the first half meanders and drifts without enough to hold onto, except Mustaine's sometimes-good-sometimes-not vocals, until it picks up in the second half. Really, for a thrash band, this album contains too many parts that are worthless or boring or poorly executed. It's a slow thrash album too, and clocking in at under 35 minutes, brings it very close to having too little content.
Also, I'm sitting here with the remastered version, and there's almost no power in the instruments. The rhythm guitar tone is thin and has little impact at all on some songs, which is why Dave Ellefson's bass plays such an important part on a song like 'Hook in Mouth', where he is more than audible - he's further up the mix than the drums - for its entire length. The medium-paced chuggers must have a strong tone to make them work: they don't, so the lead-driven 'Mary Jane' fares better, as well as the quicker second half of the album. The lead tone is pretty good, yet some of the more technical and high-pitched solos (on the opening instrumental and 'Set the World Afire') sound lke they are disintegrating as they are played, like a damaged spaceship re-entering the Earth's atmosphere. Everything mentioned thus far is a whole lot better than the drums, which are so flat and in the background that the songs aren't driven by them at all, and bass ends up as the main rhythmic presence.
However, having trashed just about everything from this album (I didn't mention it, but the order of the songs is shit too), Megadeth are redeemed by a little something called attitude. If the Sex Pistols cover wasn't there we might not guess, but the punk spirit dominates this album almost from start to finish and gives some credibility to the ragged, half-arsed songwriting and instrumental performances. The snottiness of 'Liar' and '502' only works in this context: put one of those songs on 'Peace Sells' or 'Rust in Peace' and it would be derided, though there is something crazy and cock-eyed about this album that just about keeps them alive. I'm annoyed that I have to say it like this, but, as lazy and poorly composed as this album is, it manages to do something different from the typical thrash template and also stands alone in Megadeth's history. However, it's not a good album, with only a few great songs, and not every Megadeth fan will enjoy the experience.
Every band releases something that doesn't live up to expectations eventually. Some bands do it repeatedly and some bands jump into a downward spiral. Luckily for Megadeth while it didn't live up to expectations this time around it was still pretty solid.
Dave's singing isn't as aggressive as Killing is My Business. Still full of energy and enthusiasm. He's very charismatic with his vocals. He has a limited range in his singing but the vocal parts in the songs don't require anything amazing, this teamed with his charisma still make his vocals a staple for the band.
The guitar work is pretty solid for the most part. Very fast, very calculted, very driving on the riffing, the riffs aren't very memorable though which is odd as I usually remember riffs very well. Its missing the level of melody that was present before however and this doesn't quite live up to expectation. The melody/technical mixture was also very crucial to Megadeth's sound so it doesn't sound quite as strong without it. The solos still pack the melodic/technical shredding punch and remain as highlights of the songs. Into the Lungs of Hell is one of the strongest tracks and is mostly just soloing.
Dave Ellefson is a solid bass player. He keeps up with the other boys really well. Fast and technical and at times throwing in stuff that's more attention grabbing then what his buddies on the guitar are doing. He mostly rounds out the sound though which is a pity compared to his past. The drummer is a new guy I believe, all the jazz elements from KIMB are completely gone now. He also isn't nearly as technical relying more on pure force and pounding, he sure likes his double pedal as many metal drummers do. He plays fast.
Standout tracks: Into the Lungs of Hell, the cover of Anarchy in the U.K. and In My Darkest Hour
So Mustaine’s project was successful and acclaimed among thrash fans, becoming a serious rival for his old Pals, specially once he refined and improved the band’s sound on Peace Sells…But Who’s Buying?, on which their identity and concept was clearly defined, one of the musically strongest records of that splendorous 1986. The competent jazzy line-up broke-up, Poland & Samuelson were replaced by Young & Behler, inevitably affecting the result of the following album for good or bad. Even though these guys made a decent debut and a superior successor, they still had to definitely obtain their own sound and forget about the predictable subgenre topics, an objective which wasn’t accomplished on this release, though very amusing songs can be found here anyway. So Far, So Good…So What! would be their final entirely thrash record, an honest farewell that would contribute to the reach the brilliance of its successor, because there would be no Rust In Peace without a preceding primitive stage they had to go through.
The opening cut is actually spectacular, majestic and more pompous than anything displayed on previous attempts, huge guitar lines and meticulous arrangements create an epic atmosphere, accompanied by that frantic shredding with Dave going wild, what an intro. The following “Set The World Afire”, which is supposed to be the infamous first composition this guy wrote after being kicked out from Metallica, is clearly intended to be relentless and brutal, designed by abrasive sharp riffs and outrageous velocity, adding truly consistent instrumental passages and certain complication. That couple of superb raging thrash cuts achieve a similar level of excellence from the previous record schemes, less melodic, very harsh and devastating, on other hand, without denying technique and precision. “In My Darkest Hour” follows an also ambitious pattern of diverse sections, tempo shifts, skilled instrumental sequences and inspired arrangements, emotional, lyrical, energetic and violent in equal percentages, becoming an instant anthem. However, those 3 numbers are rather an exception among an album that includes straighter formulas. Well, “Mary Jane” has evident sophistication and complexity, with those acoustic lines and versatile structures, in contrast with the chaotic scruffy “502”, which is deprived of control and discipline but plenty of rage and energy. Attitude is certainly what other basic compositions like “Liar” are about, vocally-based and technically humble to let Mustaine’s explicit nasty words take all attention and attack Poland (according to the rumors). Riffs are getting so punkish and simple, revealing no significant progression or variation. The Sex Pistols cover “Anarchy In The U.K.” with the cameo of the guest star Steve Jones, came as no surprise, Megadeth clearly take more notable influence from punk this time, an evident fact their simpler methodology is proving undoubtedly, reducing considerably the difficulty of the music but adding extra ferocity and attitude.
Those who were expecting a sequel of Peace Sells…But Who’s Buying? might be disappointed. Some of these titles are remarkably technical, advanced and executed accurately and clean, though there’s a bigger presence of raw punkish aggression and attitude, which means easier structures, more explicit lyrics and loose riffing, after all that genre was crucial for the development of thrash, yet Mustaine & co. are pushing away that other vital inspiring musical movement for the subgenre this time, the NWOBHM and its sophistication and musicianship. This stuff has a more notable reminiscence of Sex Pistols, instead of reminding of Diamond Head, in fact the lord & master of the band admitted they were listening to lots of punk albums by then, an influence reflected on each composition, even on those complicated ambitious 3 that include as well some punkish essence on both riffing and lyrics. Undoubtedly, So Far, So Good…So What! meant a regression from its predecessor if we refer to complexity and originality, but even though nearly 70% of this material is straight, easy and primitive, consistence, attitude and amusement are guaranteed. The line-up performs this very professionally actually, Chuck is lacking the stunning details and virtuosism of Gar, while Jeff could fit a L.A. glam pop group better and I don’t mean his looks only, but the concept of these numbers doesn’t demand the high skills and abilities of the previous album, so fortunately those guys were competent enough to make something decent. Rumors also say Mustaine recorded this whole stuff drunk, yet his exquisite lines speak for themselves, no matter what studio tricks can do, you can’t deny the admirable creativity, grace and solidity of his incredible riffs, his stunning pickin’ parts and song-writing potential. His voice this time sounds absolutely peculiar, raspier, dirtier and constantly furious, very punkish indeed and uncontrolled, what else could fit this music better? Even that terrible lame mix, surprisingly mediocre by one of the most legendary sound-engineers of 80’s heavy metal, Michael Wagener uninspired sadly, contributes to make this album certainly unique and special with all its imperfection and limitations.
No, this isn’t a record you can put in the same level of Rust In Peace, not as solid as Peace Sells…But Who’s Buying? either naturally, but it includes some of the most entertaining fresh songs this group ever conceived (or should I say “this guy ever conceived”, with a couple of exceptions featuring Ellefson co-writing). Musically inferior and undisciplined, it’s plenty of attitude and rage, the elements that made early Megadeth’s music so refreshing, but don’t forget those immense exceptions among all this chaos. Another successful record by another fine line-up which I’m sure everybody guessed right it wouldn’t last much, as usual. The typical unstable formation and sound problem would be solved in the next record, anyway ignoring that following part of the story, So Far, So Good…So What! provides aggression, speed and fun.
Production goes a long way in music, regardless of what people say to the contrary. To be honest, the music itself is only slightly superior to that of the debut. Most likely, the technical aspect is actually lower. Having said all of this, the combination of better production and songwriting is enough in the end to give it a twelve point advantage.
The best points of this album would start with the production. I think this is the first Megadeth album where the remaster isn't necessary. Most of what is worth hearing is fairly intelligible the first time around. The next would have to be the songwriting. This isn't brilliant, but the better songs on here are worthy of having been written by Mustaine. I have to say the song 502 has always appealed to me. Coming from a small time where people often act out of boredom, this registers with me on a personal level. I also enjoy the riffing on Lungs. Most metal instrumentals strike me as a waste of time, but this carries itself quite nicely.
The bass is very audible, but he doesn't seem to do as much of interest on this album, as on Peace Sells. The guitar work isn't bad, but it's a step below the previous album, and a little more than that below the succeeding album. Mustaine's rhythms are mostly good, but on songs like the cover and Mary Jane, it goes limp. The soloing is also somewhat below par. Poland and Friedman each brought talent and unique aspects of their talent to bear, while Jeff Young may as well not be there. The same can be said of Chuck, who lacks both Gar's jazzy technique and Nick's power. Set the World Afire is an example of a song that I think could have been a pretty good song with better all-around instrumentation. After a while, it just starts to drag. Friedman's playing, for example, would have sufficed to keep it from drooping so badly. Some people have attributed an angry feel to this album, but I'm unconvinced. Hook in Mouth, good song, is the only really aggressive song on here, and it's the very last one.
A weak point of this album is really how much Mustaine predominates. I'm a person who doesn't enjoy Van Halen, and part of it is just how much one man drives it. Most music, to me, can't function this way. Ellefson isn't contributing as much as he later would, and the others added nothing. Yes, he had driven the previous album, but he still had quality musicians to feed off of. This feels like he drained himself to exhaustion. The cover was a poor idea on Mustaine's part, even if it was to honor a legend. Mary Jane also really goes nowhere. Good Morning turned into Black Friday, this just continued to suck for four minutes.
I'd say I'm looking at Megadeth's fourth best album, yeah I do believe Countdown is better. Compared to the debut, it has a similar number of awful songs, but it has one extra good one. The production also isn't killing the weaker ones like it did on the debut. Similar to my debut suggestion, I'd advise taking the top four songs and just forgetting the rest.
So Far So Good is something of an anomaly in the Megadeth discography. This album, unlike much of the rest of their albums, does not either flat out suck nor is it an instant classic. Instead, what we have here is an album sandwiched in between the two undisputed classics Peace Sells and Rust In Peace that got rather over looked when it was first released in 1988. This is a release that is also very mixed, with some fantastic tracks among some real stinkers.
What this album definitely is, without any question whatsoever, is a Megadeth album. All the traits that defined the albums that came before and the album that would follow are there. The frantic lead work scattered throughout the album. The demented vocals that, despite being terrible and hilarious to listen to, somehow manage to fit the music. The technical riff work is there, the sarcastic lyrics, and even the final cover song to be featured on a main album (minus bonus tracks on later releases) in their cover of The Sex Pistols controversial song Anarchy In The U.K.
Kicking things off with the balls out instrumental Into The Lungs Of Hell, we are immediately treated to a Megadeth classic. This is an absolutely amazing instrumental that gives off a completely apocalyptic feel to it that very few instrumental-only songs can ever hope to accomplish. This leads right into Set The World Afire, a song many people seem to really enjoy, but i could never get into. From the atomic bomb dropping through to the end of the song, this is a straight thrash song, that only Megadeth could put out, but just comes off feeling extremely stale. It is apparent here that the ingenious writing present on Peace Sells was just missing from parts of this album, despite some killer drumming throughout this particular song. The first few guitar riffs are just stale and played too many times to the point they become boring, and the bass is as bland as can be. The vocals are nice, the riffs once the verse starts are nice enough, and the lyrics to this song are great, but overall it is one of the weaker songs early Megadeth put out.
The cover song, Anarchy in The U.K. is considerably better than the Sex Pistols version, but still not a great song. Mary Jane, however is one of the better songs on the album, with strong, crushing riffs to it, beautifully written lead work, and a fun feel to it that the rest of the first half of the album is devoid of. The guitars to this songs are perfectly written, being both catchy and heavy enough, with Dave's vocals being surprisingly good throughout this song. This was the perfect song to pick the album back up for the second half of the album.
502 has some extremely fast riffing that brings back memories of Killing Is My Business, but this is merely the tip of the iceberg of the best moments of this album, as it feels somewhat like a filler song, that is just there to speed the album up again. Still a decent enough song, though, and definately worth a listen or two. The two songs that follow, In My Darkest Hour and Liar, are two absolutely incredible songs. The former is a song about Dave's fallen comrade Cliff Burton, often mistaken as a suicide promoting song, and is one of the most moving songs in music history. This is how a song should be written, equal parts heavy and emotional, despite the majority of it moving at a very slow pace. The lyrics to this song are just beyond description, being absolutely heart shattering, and conveying the thoughts of a broken man. This is the absolute definition of perfection.
Liar is one of the more hated songs from this album, and i could never understand why. The lyrics are utterly hilarious, speaking of Megadeth's former lead guitar player, who allegedly stole Dave's guitars. The final verse of this song is essentially just one long rant, culminating with the immortal "to your maker, off you go... your a liar, you fucking liar". This song is one of the most balls to the walls, pissed off thrash songs ever recorded, with intense, fast riffing, crazy vocals, and great drumming. The hate for this song is something i honestly will never understand.
Hook In Mouth is half a great song, being very bland and dull for the first verse, but once it kicks in, it hits the listener with the impact of a freight train, bringing crushing riffs and one of the angriest vocal performances from Dave you will ever hear. This song is a song i never enjoy thoroughly, but always skip to when it kicks in, because that is the only segment of this song worth listening to. It is alright as a way to close the album, although this spot would better suit Liar.
This album is definitely a mixed bag of an album, with the first half of it being rather poor when stacked up against what came before and afterwards. Moments like the first half of Hook In Mouth, and the cover of Anarchy In The U.K. and the intro to Set The World Afire really do drag this album down to the abyss. However, the musicianship throughout much of the album is absolutely perfect, the lyrics are as sarcastic and angry as ever, and Dave is on top of his game, vocally, on this album. This is a solid enough release, and definitely does not deserve the hate it receives, but has a few disappointing moments that keep it away from the upper echelons of the Megadeth discography.
This is my second favourite Megadeth album falling slightly behind "Rust in peace". For me Dave Mustaine works at his best, when he is firing on all cylinders and just plain out not giving a fuck. "Peace sells..." although good was a fierce attempt at trying to outgun Metallica in every conceivable way, a trend which would repeat itself many times after 1992. Some may consider this Megadeth's great success, but I can only enjoy Megadeth to the full knowing Dave Mustaine wrote the songs soley for himself, not because "Master of puppets" went gold or The Black Album sold a trillion copies, or simply because he has to smile through gritted teeth as Kirk Hammett shot to superstardom and got inducted into the rock and roll hall of fame, and some lesser informed folk are still whispering "...Dave who?" Dave Mustaine is not a refrained creature, he would have destroyed Metallica because he was too volatile for it. Back when this album was recorded Mustaine had more in common with Lemmy, than his previous bandmates and here it shows. This is a cohesive speed metal juggernaut, which is raw and unforgivingly against the grain. A lot of people may see this album as passe, probably because they are gay, but for me this album has outlived and overshadowed much of anything in the metal scene, over the passed twenty years.
I remember at this point, people were beginning to say the German's were coming up with the best thrash riffs. I was starting to believe them, until I heard this. From the opening instrumental "Into the lungs of hell" right up until the final potent notes of "Hook in mouth", Megadeth actually put a lot of people to shame. It's no wonder then that this same year (1988), a lot of other thrash releases like Atrophy's "Socialized hate" or Testament's "The new order", just seem slightly lackluster and a tad stale after hearing this. Not only did Megadeth have technical riffs and solos by the bucket load, they had attitude and lived what they sang about. And the best thing about this album is that, Mustaine was not looking over to the Metallica camp to fuel his hunger for Megadeth to be a superior band in every way. Even the ballad "In my darkest hour" has such a raw, improvised rock and roll feel to it. Dave Mustaine did not try and write epic rhapsody, about his fallen friend Cliff Burton, but instead just lays down raw emotion, where as other thrash bands would have released a ten minute long bore fest, full of semi-acoustic wankery. The only downsides is "502" sounds a little street metal at times, but if you weren't alive in the 80's this may not bother you, because you've been force fed grunge and nu-metal and no doubt starved of entertainment by this point. The solos are hair raising, yet have a scuzzy vibe all over them, like you can imagine Megadeth playing them at your local drinking hole. All in all a must have purchase, hopefully you're not one of those who dismissed this album after hearing "Peace sells..."
The late 1980’s were thrash heaven. Ground was being broken everywhere; landmark and genre-defining classics were falling out of the sky. Metallica and Slayer were gods, Dark Angel was brutalizing ears and Kreator were pumping out twisted riffs that made your neck ache and your brain explode. It was raining thrash classics and Megadeth’s So Far, So Good, So What! was no exception.
Kicking off with the instrumental intro ‘Into the Lungs of Hell’, So Far, So Good, So What! immediately grabs you by the face and lets you know that Megadeth means business. Once it finishes, you hear the dropping of a nuclear bomb before being kicked in the face by the first riff of the mighty ‘Set the World Afire’. This album is packed with not just Megadeth classics but thrash classics. Even the weaker tracks on this record (and that’s arguable) like ‘Mary Jane’ and ‘502’ will make you bang your head and feel the hairs on the back of your neck stand up as metal pumps through your veins. The most famous song from the album, ‘In My Darkest Hour’, is Megadeth’s answer to Metallica’s ‘Welcome Home (Sanitarium)’. It’s not as good as that song, but it’s really close. A beautiful mid-paced tune that explodes into hyper drive as Mustaine sings “Please God, send me on my way!” The closer—and a personal favorite—‘Hook in Mouth’ is a fist-pumping thrash bash with a main riff that is a perfect example of why thrash metal is so awesome. If you aren’t screaming “YOU SAY YOU’VE GOT THE ANSWERS WELL WHO ASKED YOU ANYWAY!?” and grinning at the signature Mustaine snarl, then I don’t know what to tell you. You might be slipping into a coma and going to a dimension where metal doesn’t want you. The only thing that prevents this album from getting a perfect rating from me is the cover of ‘Anarchy in the U.K.’. It’s not that it’s a terrible cover or anything, but it really should have been included as a bonus track or maybe a b-side to a single as it feels out of place on the record.
One of the biggest appeals of this record for me is that which seems to drive some people away from it: the production. In the 1990’s Megadeth would go on to more crisp, clean and polished productions. But not on this record. Fuck no. This production is dark, dirty, gritty and fits the music perfectly. The production, combined with the attitude of this record and where Mustaine was in his life at this point, makes it the darkest, angriest, most drug-laced and in my opinion best album that Megadeth ever made. Peace Sells…But Who’s Buying? had a gritty production job itself, but not like this. This record makes you think of nights on streets where you really wouldn’t want to be. It also makes helps to make this record the monster that it is.
If you’re a newbie to the metal world and are curious about Megadeth, you’re safe in picking up any of the first four albums but this would be my first recommendation. That’s right. I’ll take this over the overrated Rust in Peace any day. Now, don’t think for a second that I don’t think that album’s awesome, but the production was cleaner and the riffs weren’t as mean. The riffs on So Far, So Good, So What! are fucking mean. I myself have been listening to this album for over 15 years and I’ll never get tired of it. It’s an absolute classic in every sense of the word and deserves way more respect than it’s gotten over the years. You, as a metal fan, are doing yourself a disservice by not having heard it. If you are someone who dismissed it long ago, you’re missing out. Big time.
The years around 1988 were definitely a truly bad period for Megadeth. It was a time of intense uncertainty and instability. Dave Mustaine was subjected to his mistress of white death, surrendered to the grasp of his spiritual wreckage. He seemed to asphyxiate in the arms of his genius so sinful and reckless. To say it in simple words, he was up to his neck into drug use. Therefore, it’s not strange that the main element of this album seems to be confusion. Everything they managed to create so far is on the verge of collapsing.
Poland and Samuelson are out of the band and newcomers Young and Behler have taken their place. It was an unlucky move especially now that the band had began to look so steady and firm. At some parts these two new members seem to be completely out of space and are inferior to their predecessors. Mustaine, no matter how much heroin he has used or how much alcohol he has consumed, he still seems as the penis that masturbates. There are though difficulties, in making the sperm find the target. He has some ideas but they are so dry and colorless. As a result, the songs are clearly minor to those of Peace Sells… balancing between good intention and undoable realization.
All these might sound like poetic but they only state that things are really bad. Megadeth have not sold their ideals and beliefs. They don’t claim that they never were a heavy metal band neither do they play pop music to climb the charts, no. So Far, So Good… is by all means a metal album. It has got heavy guitars and drums and some fast tempos familiar of their style. Bun nothing really sticks to your mind. From all the solos of the album there is not even one that got me with my pants down. There is an obvious lack of inspiration and you may believe that they did this album only because they had to. Let’s put a riff here, a chorus there and a simple solo just to get the work done and go home. Even Dave Ellefson who has always been a serious musician has been drifted by the tide.
There are a few songs that I like very much such as Set The World Afire or Hook in Mouth which are classic Megadeth compositions. They have sharp guitars and catchy riffs and some nice breaks that make them quite interesting and pleasant to hear. They possess this certain feeling and attitude I’m looking for in a Megadeth song and they manage to stand above average. No, in fact they are pretty damn good. But that’s not enough to save the day when they are surrounded by mediocre, dull compositions like 502, Liar or the awful, unacceptable for the band, Mary Jane crap. Yes, I said it before, they are heavy songs that come from a metal band but how can you compare them with the killers they delivered in the previous release and not be disappointed? Well, I was anyway! As for Anarchy In The U.K., the cover they chose this time, I don’t disagree totally since they took a punk song and passed it through a metal filter, turning it for the better.
Maybe I am being kind of strict with this album but it is Megadeth we are talking about, not a common heavy metal band that could get a credit for trying to do something good. When you listen to a Megadeth release you expect metal blasters, dynamic songs that blast you away and not fillers with some good stuff here and there. I’m sorry to say it but this is not what I would suggest for you to buy unless you are a die-hard fan of them and everything they do look like masterpieces to you. Mustaine and co. fell many steps behind with this atrocity.
Megadeth are a band many of you will be familiar with, and rightly so. Personally, they are my favourite metal band, ever. However, it was only recently I really discovered this little gem. Sandwiched between the legendary Peace Sells and Rust In Peace and, hence, so far before the more radio-friendly sounds of Youthanasia and Cryptic Writings, its quite easy to forget this masterpiece.
However, in my opinion it embodies the raw spirit of Megadeth far better than even my album of preference (the brilliant Rust In Peace). It blasts out brutal riffs, fantastic solos and the usual high standard of lyrics Mustaine spits out, while keeping the listener hanging on every note.
The dramatic, incredible opener "Into The Lungs Of Hell" sets off the album with a level of class most instrumentals can only dream of. I'll admit I'm not usually a fan of instrumentals, but Into The Lungs Of Hell is, put simply, incredible. Setting the tone for an album can be difficult, but it draws the listener into the mood of the album, while not sounding like an overture or medley.
Set The World Afire follows suit with astonishing panache, maintaining the power and drive of the introduction, while not sounding samey or repetitive. However, the next song, a cover of The Sex Pistols' Anarchy In The UK is a source of contention - personally I like it, and covers one of the most important songs in British music history with flare and respect to the original. They really make it their own without leaving the Pistols' version redundant. Sure, its a bit silly for an American metal band in the late '80s to cover a British punk song from the '70s, and many Pistols purists will think it an unthinkable idea. But hey, it works. As does just about every song on this album.
There's no pauses for thought for the simple fact that, with Dave Mustaine at the wheel, you don't need any. There is plenty of lyrical depth and power to be found, without a moment's rest in the assault on the ears. In particular 502 and Hook In Mouth are fine examples of this, with In My Hour Of Need spitting more resentment than just about any other song to an ex-lover could even contemplate. The album encapsulates everything Megadeth was, is and should be about.
However, in saying that, it is by no means flawless. Although each song has its own flavour and power, it lacks the diversity, energy and inventiveness of the two albums they'll be remembered for. Despite all the power of Hook In Mouth, there is no beautifully psychotic rant on a par with Rust In Peace...Polaris or Peace Sells. Furthermore, the album is simply too damn short. Hook In Mouth comes to a close and you're waiting for the next assault on your eardrums. But it, frustratingly, never comes. However, when one of the few floors to an album is it being too short, you know the quality's high. And very high it is - this is head and shoulders above some of Megadeth's other albums and would a fine candidate for legendary album number 3.
All in all So Far, So Good, So What? is a classic that no Megadeth fan should be without, and a damn fine introduction for anyone interested in one of the most important thrash bands in metal history.
This is a pretty underrated classic of Megadeth's catalog, and considering all the turmoil the band was going through at the time, I'm surprised it doesn't sound any worse. It nearly rivals Killing Is My Business in terms of sheer sonic ugliness, but not so when you get the remaster, where all the various layers are revealed rather crisply.
Overall, the sound here is rather progressive. By that, I mean that there are quite a few layered guitar sounds. "Mary Jane" and "In My Darkest Hour" are the best examples of this. In fact, "Mary Jane" has to be the creepiest damn thing Megadeth has ever written, sounding heavily influenced by Mercyful Fate, and Mustaine sounds like he's literally going insane. Excellent! Great solo on this one, too! The opening melody is downright haunting, as is the acoustic sections of "In My Darkest Hour."
Still, there's a lot of straight up shredding on here. "Set the World Afire" is a fercious maelstrom of angry riffs, guaranteed to tear your flesh off like a nuclear explosion...damn, it really evokes images of an apocalypse! "502" and "Liar" are both shredfests with maniacal, threatening vocals to match the voracious riffing. Mustaine's soloing is downright lethal, and Jeff Young is no slouch either. The only weak link is Chuck Behler, who though adequete, really doesn't offer anything of note, especailly when sandwiched between the godly Gar Samuelson and Nick Menza. Even worse, the cymbals were recorded seperately from the drums, leaving an irritating pause that makes them sound like a drum machine...that really kills a lot of the energy of the ablum.
I don't care for the Sex Pistols cover at all. It's punky, jolly feel disturbs the overall dark and threatening atmosphere of the album. Mustaine still sounds nasty in his vocal snarling, though.
If this came out before Peace Sells, it would no doubt enjoy a more esteemed position, but this era and album were a transitional period that didn't last. For the next album, Mustaine honed his agression and remained sober to create the finest piece of thrash ever...
With all of the problems facing both Dave Mustaine personally and his then still young thrash project MegaDeth, there is a somewhat peculiar sense of irony to the album “So far, so good, so what?”, both in its title and the consistent yet varied subject matter contained in its eight various chapters. The musical dimensions from track to track contrast quite starkly, combining Mustaine’s unique blend of epic songwriting and raw thrash attitude with lyrical themes spanning several issues relevant both to Dave personally and society in general at the time.
Coming off a brief stint as a three piece outfit for their slot on the movie soundtrack “Shocker”, MegaDeth had a rather large task of matching the expectations created by their early career peak “Peace Sells” with a near completely revamped line-up. Jeff Young is worthy of the position that he holds on this album and does a good enough job when assuming lead duties, but between Poland and Friedman it is really difficult to wow the core-MegaDeth fan, and compared to them his style is not terribly distinctive. Chuck Behler manages to make a hell of a racket on the kit on several of the faster tracks on here, check out “Hook in Mouth” and “502” in particular to see what I mean.
The album opens in with a curve ball quite similar to the one found on Deth’s debut, only manifesting itself in a rather inspired military march complete with accompanying brass instruments. “Through the Lungs of Hell” functions as a sort of extended multi-movement epic prelude to “Set the World Afire”, which is among the more powerful speed metal songs on here. The riff development is quite impressive as the first minute and a half of music are loaded with winning ideas, all of them hard edged, all of them memorable. The vocal delivery showcases Mustaine at his most crisp and precise, lacking any misplaced or overtly raw throat anomalies that were occasionally found on earlier songs.
Much of the other speed tracks on here are shorter and simpler, drawing upon the fewer riffs and fragmented solos approach of earlier releases. “Liar” features the roughest vocal delivery, appropriately so as Mustaine has opted to rip apart former band mate Chris Poland for stealing from him. “502” is an anthem for high speed driving that makes Sammy Hagar’s “I can’t drive 55” sound like the theme music to Driving Miss Daisy. But the true goods are delivered on the riff monster “Hook in Mouth”, where Dave is at his socio-politically conscious best as he accurately depicts one of the most hideous enemies of freedom of speech Tipper Gore.
Where things really get interesting is on the slower tracks, which showcase Dave’s varied approach to songwriting probably better than any other release has. “Mary Jane” has a dream like atmosphere to it, contrasting a series of gloomy lead riffs with a set of mellow clean guitar drones. Mustaine’s vocal delivery is colored by both a sense of fear and excitement, leading one to believe that he is either in the midst of a drug trip or experiencing some sort of supernatural occurrence. “In my darkest hour” is quite a morose yet sorrowful elegy to former friend and band mater Cliff Burton, featuring a gloomy acoustic intro as well as a somewhat modified version of the main riff of “Jump in the Fire”.
For those aspiring thrash fans who have yet to purchase this particular MegaDeth opus, it is among the better ones put out by them, despite the turmoil surrounding the band at the time and the inconsistency of its line-up. All of the original songs found within, as well as the rather well modified Sex Pistols cover, are shinning examples of Mustaine’s genius and resilience. The re-mastered version includes 4 alternative mixes of some of the songs that give some insight as to how the original product sounded; a definite must for the sake of past perspective. This is something of a swansong for MegaDeth in many ways, and to this day continues to be underrated by core-fan and casual listeners alike.
Everything about this album shows that it's nothing more than an average release. From the terrible production to the temporary line-up, this album looked like it wasn't anything special. The fact that it lies between arguably Megadeth's two greatest records (Rust In Peace and Peace Sells....But Who's Buying?) doesn't help solidify its presence as a top notch record.
However, despite all of the negative critics and the poor ratings, this is one of Megadeth's most underrated and best records. Dave Mustaine enters the studio having replaced fusion guitarist Chris Poland with a classically trained guitarist since the age of six. A man by the name of Jeff Young. Another roster change was made when Gar Samuelson was fired for apparent substance abuse and replaced by his drum tech Chuck Behler.
With the new line-up and the creative juices flowing, Dave Mustaine wrote some of Megadeth's greatest songs for this record. From the opening track, the instrumental "Into the Lungs of Hell" which features fast-paced, palm muted riffs and improvised soloing, to the closing track written about music censorship "Hook In Mouth", the album delivers a rollercoaster ride of emotion. The album also features a cover of The Sex Pistols song "Anarchy In The U.K." which provides a nice break from the serious thrash of songs before and after the cover.
One of the more notable songs on the record, and perhaps one of Megadeth's best songs "In My Darkest Hour" showcases over 6 minutes of the perfect blend of emotion and thrash. This song was written for fallen Metallica bassist and friend of Dave's, Cliff Burton (R.I.P.). "In My Darkest Hour" deserves to be considered an elite track with the likes of "Hangar 18", "Symphony Of Destruction", and their MTV hit "Peace Sells". However due to poor initial reception of the record, the song is vastly over looked.
However with the 2004 remasters done by Dave Mustaine, the record can polish some of the rough patches that diminished the quality and initial appreciation. The record provides many great songs and is a lost classic. With all that said, this is a must have for any fan of thrash. I gave the album an 85 because of its production. Even with the 2004 remasters, some of the tracks had to be altered. Which means leaving the original tracks in their current (and sub-par produced) state.
Favorite Track: In My Darkest Hour
Least Favorite: Into The Lungs of Hell (a top notch track, however it is too short!)
While this is not quite as good as the first two Megadeth albums, it still beats the pants off of most everything that followed. Dave Mustaine could still write killer riffs, vicious leads, and some of the nastiest and most sarcastic lyrics ("Liar" and "Hook In Mouth" come to mind immediately) out there; Dave Ellefson still was cranking out some badass bass work with sharp tone that didn't just follow a mindless 8th-note pattern into the ground or follow the guitars. This, for me anyway, was the last gasp of Megadeth as a vital and powerful band in the international metal scene.
New recruits Jeff Young and Chuck Behler did a competent job, but ultimately were not as inspired as their predecessors, Chris Poland and Gar Samuelson. Young's leads were chaotic and scattershot, not cohesive or terribly memorable, and Behler's drumming was unimaginative. A shame, because the booming drum sound really dominates and deserved a better drum performance. They hold back this album from really killing in the long run.
There are still some magnificent moments on this album nonetheless, such as opener "Into The Lungs Of Hell", an excellent instrumental; the moody and creepy tandem of "Mary Jane" and "In My Darkest Hour"; the thrash/stomp monster, "Hook In Mouth"; the scalding "Liar". But the cover of "Anarchy in the UK" is weak and entirely too fast and comes off as weaker and more foo-foo than the original, a right nut-kicker of a song to this day even nearly 20 years after the fact. Even Steve Jones' appearance on this song is tacit and perfunctory at best. You can tell that the drugs and drinking were taking effect at long last and it was making the music suffer.
Paul Lani's production favors the drums, as mentioned, and while this is good, the guitars are thin in comparison. The bass still sounds good, razor-sharp and clean like vintage Chris Squire, though, and this is a plus in a world where the 4-string wrangler is usually buried beneath the guitars. Mustaine himself is in fine form vocally, his customary high-pitched squawk/snarl approach not changing at all as he rattles off his barbed lyrics with contempt and vitriol. But still, this album comes off as not as fiendishly creative and energetic as the first two in the long run; I can detect a tiredness and ennui creeping in beneath the surface. Perhaps they were realizing that Metallica had outdone them in the popularity/influence sweepstakes and the seeds of their selling out were starting to bloom...
Everything that follows this LP, as mentioned, is weak and unworthy of the Megadeth name. Don't bother with anything after this one, the last gasp of the "true" Megadeth.
Megadeth became one of the most powerful thrash bands in the 1980's and early 1990's after they released a barrage of successful records including "Peace Sells...But Whose Buying?" and the masterful "Rust In Peace," yet the album placed between these two masterpieces is the most forgotten and underrated of Megadeth's career. Many people forget about "So Far, So Good...So What!" because it followed these two important albums, yet I consider it the best release out of Megadeth's first four records. The year was 1988 and Megadeth's need to make some metal was combined with high dosages of testosterone to create an album that had balls the size of Jupiter; that LP was "So Far, So Good...So What!"
In terms of the music, this is a straight up thrash record with some nice hints of speed metal and melody. If there's one thing that Megadeth did different on this album, it was the added quantity of melody and technicality. "Mary Jane," "Set The World Afire," and "Liar" have some semi-melodic thrash riffs that make them stand out from the standard thrash song. "502" is a relentless burst of technical thrash as Dave Mustaine and Jeff Young hit a storm of notes during the song's chorus. "Mary Jane" also falls under the complex category because of the various riffs Mustaine and Young sway in and out of. Bands that are looking to cover a non-metal song should take Megadeth's cover of "Anarchy In The UK" as a prime model; Megadeth takes the Sex Pistols classic and warps into a tornado of speed and thrash riffs with some incredible leads.
Lyrically and vocally speaking, this is one of Megadeth's best efforts. Mustaine takes a stab at censorship on "Hook In Mouth" by mocking its flaws and procedures, yet he manages to sound both intelligent and angry. Mustaine's suicidal ode to the late Metallica bassist Cliff Burton on "In My Darkest Hour" is one of the most famed metal lyrics because of its dark mood and depressive lyrics. "Mary Jane" appears to be about weed at hindsight, but it's actually a tale about witchcraft. Dave Mustaine certainly isn't the best singer in the metal world, but his voice is perfect for this album. Dave's raspy voice slices right into the heart of these songs with an aggressive and hostile tone. His voice can get rather humorous at times, but he does a great allaround job singing on "So Far, So Good...So What!"
There is some controversy about this LP because it mainly consists of material that was left out of the first Megadeth records. "Set The World Afire" is rumored to be the first song Dave Mustaine wrote after he was ejected from Metallica. "Into The Lungs Of Hell," "Mary Jane" and "Hook In Mouth" were also written well before this recording, yet they are all the strong songs and undisputed Megadeth classics.
I personally think "So Far, So Good...So What!" is one Megadeth's best efforts. Everything that defines Megadeth's musicianship is present and it won't let you down. "So Far, So Good...So What!" may not be the most recognized Megadeth release, but it's certainly one of their best. Pick this one up!
This review was written for: http://www.Thrashpit.com
I’ve always been very impressed with this album, even from the very first listen. Something about it just makes it instantly accessible, perhaps more so than any other Megadeth release. And while it never garnered the same attention as Peace Sells before it or Rust in Peace after it, it has all the classic elements that let it stand just as tall as those two albums, if not taller.
SFSGSW is my favorite Megadeth album, primarily because of the strength of the individual songs. The album lacks the general consistency of mood on Peace Sells and Rust in Peace, but every track is a classic in its own right. Few Megadeth songs hit as hard as the instrumental opener, “Into the Lungs of Hell.” The overlapping clean and distorted tones for the intro create an otherworldly tone and a great atmosphere, one that soon spirals into the chaos of the driving speed riffing and killer lead guitar. The album doesn’t let up from there. Powerful and technical riffs, Megadeth’s most predominant appeal, are the only riffs to be found here. If you prefer watered down groove rhythms or power chord abuse look elsewhere, as this album won’t cater to your needs. Everything about the guitars kill on this album, especially the lead. Mustaine’s soloing keeps getting better and more technical without losing a sense of melody, evident on just about every song here.
There’s plenty of variety on the album as well. Several songs are straight up thrash numbers, such as “Set the World Afire” and the manic “502.” The Sex Pistols cover “Anarchy in the UK” is a prime example of metalification of classic punk. “In My Darkest Hour” provides a mellower edge reminiscent of “Looking Down the Cross.” “Mary Jane” and “Liar” kick ass in the mid-paced department. Basically, there’s no filler here. It’s all powerful, memorable, thrash fucking metal.
I have no issues with the original release, but Dave Mustaine’s need to re-master all the band’s back catalogue really fucked up the reincarnation of this one. Killing is my Business got the celebrity treatment for the re-master, so why didn’t this one? The new mix erases the raw quality of the original to make room for a cleaner more modern sound. The vocals sound worse for some reason and some minor aspects were changed, most notably the creative car stereo effect in the middle of “502,” for some reason horribly botched on the re-release.
If you can find it, hunt down the original release. It’s free of the problems of the re-issue. Either way, I highly recommend this album to any metal fan willing to hear its glory.
It's no secret that this album was a weak attempt by Megadeth. For starters, nearly half of the album consists of old, rehashed material from Megadeth's earliest days gigging in small clubs. Of course, I'm talking about songs like: Into the Lungs of Hell, Hook in Mouth, Mary Jane, and Set the World Afire. If the fact that Dave Mustaine (A regular song writing machine) used so many tracks that originally didn't make the cut on their previous albums doesn't tell you that he was burnt out from drugs and touring, a few of the songs that he did write for the album should. I've always thought of a studio album as being an outlet for the best material that a band can manage to write and perform. With that said, the majority of the track "502" is made up of one of the worst choruses of all time, a few foolish samples, and a drum solo (If you can even call it that) that honestly leaves me confused. Now that I think of it, picking apart the song "502" isn't at all necessary because the lyrics to the song are posted on this site. With that in mind, all that really needs to be said now is that those same lyrics speak for themselves. The track "Liar" is another mystery to me. This is the kind of song that a band puts on a demo. ...And even then the song would only be included because of the severe lack of better ones. For someone considered to be as socially aware and quick witted as Dave Mustaine was thought to be around this time period, I'm surprised that he even had the nerve to put this song in. To begin with, I'm not very wild about using space on an album simply to make fun of a former band member for stealing equipment. It's just not in good taste in my opinion. Yes, it's arguable that Dave Mustaine and his larger than life "Take no Shit!" attitude could (And possibly still can) cleanly pull of a song of that nature. But the lyrics that he wrote for this song certainly don't do him and his attitude any justice. Most of these lyrics are the kind of things that people scream out of car windows at each other on a freeway. The only difference from this and screaming out a window is that when Dave Mustaine sings his version, it's much harder to understand. As long as I'm on the topic of uninspired music, I might as well say a thing or two about Megadeth's cover of "Anarchy in the UK. To begin with, none of the members of the band even wanted to cover this song. So far with the theme of this album, obvious lack of caring on yet another track doesn't do any good to anyone. I'll be honest when i say that I've never liked this song. But for what Megadeth (The two Dave's in this instance) are capable of doing in that "rebellion" sound of metal, they obviously decided to sit this one out. When I listen to this song, I don't hear a hint of anyone screaming for justice or trying to break free from the cycles of society. Especially not in the fashion that Megadeth showed the world on the album Peace Sells... But Who's Buying? What I'm hearing is four musicians going through the motions on the music and vocals of the original song, and adding in new components that really can't even dent the bland performance that has already set the tone. On top of all that, they decided to get an original member of the Sex Pistols to sing backup vocals. My views on covers songs probably shouldn't be discussed here, but why the hell would you want to make this song sound more like the original? Especially the vocal aspect of it. Vocals are one of the great things that Dave Mustaine has always been able to alter however he wants, making the song more meaningful and more of an interesting cover.
Another of the many flaws that plague this album is the lack of musical chemistry between the band members. I'm not at all opposed to musicians bringing their own (or finding a new) unique sound to the table and spreading all around in the music. It usually makes things more interesting and has proven to work very well in a lot of metal bands. However, this generally safe approach doesn't work very well on this album. My best guess as to why this is, is that a constant sound never really surfaces. By constant sound, I mean one general and basic sound that can be played on alot with no real surprise. What's nice about this constant sound or familiar atmosphere is that the band can introduce it, abandon it to venture off into other different sounds to explore with, and then easily jump right back into that base of sound that was already established. (The band Death does used that concept very well on a few of their albums) The lack of chemistry probably wouldn't be such a problem if Jeff Young didn't have such an odd guitar style. Whenever he plays a solo on the album, it seems that when he finishes the band has gone off into new territory making it feel like an awkward jump has just been made; Like Young's solos act as a bridge of some sort. If that was the case, he did a pretty bad job of preparing and composing those solos in my opinion. It's hard to judge Dave Mustaine on his riff and solo composition since such a large portion of them were created years before this album came out. (I'm assuming that he had progressed skill wise in those years) The ones that he did write seem to suite the general feel of the song pretty well. Nothing special, but nothing horrible. David Ellefson really doesn't have much presence at all on this album. It's hard to say if that's a good or bad thing. But for the sake of what it sounds like already with two guitarists on completely different pages, I'm going to guess that it's not an issue. An interesting subject that comes up on this album is Chuck Behler, the drummer. I constantly read about people complaining that he underplayed, and is largely responsible for the messy sound of the album. Brace yourself, but I think his drumming is one of the few logical and musically fitting aspects of this album. If he would have tried to break out and make any kind of a presence felt for a noticeable part of the album, the entire thing would have completely crashed and burned in my opinion. Percussion is the backbone of any metal band. If he would have strayed off and played anything other than the basic sturdy beats that he chose, it would have been under thought music played in a chaotic manner. Morbid Angel has showed the world several times what that sounds like.
For all the bitching that I just did, anyone reading this is probably wondering why I didn't give the album an awful rating percentage. Through all the shit and disappointment, there are some things that I like about this album. The album has almost no unity, but if you take it song by song, each one isn't really terrible and can actually work well with listening to compliment a specific mood. And sure, Dave Mustaine chose to use some older tracks. It's noticeable that these tracks are old and a little out of date for what was accomplished on the previous two albums. But I've grown to accept that. It's kind of nice to hear another round of the semi-raw thrash with Dave Mustaine's twist. This music doesn't really have that pre-warn-new aggressive sound that the first two albums had, but the simplistic and fun nature of the music is still there. I had to look pretty deep past the obvious flaws of this album to find that music that I love. This is one of those albums that really can only be enjoyed to its fullest by a Megadeth fan that knows the band's catalogue in and out. Knowing what they were probably capable of isn't a nice thought, but this is what they turned out and I guess it's OK.