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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.
Between Peace Sells, SFSGSW, and Rust in Peace, it's really difficult to pick which is the best. Peace Sells is extremely punky and has some jazzy elements here and there, while Rust in Peace is quite technical and well-written, composed and played. SFSGSW isn't quite as consistent as those two, but it is incredibly metal and probably the purest form of it Megadeth have ever put to plastic.
Dave Mustaine was really beginning to hit his stride here. His lyrics were much more threatening than Metallica's, his riffs were meaner, and was a complete and total asshole on this album. In particular, Liar and Hook in Mouth show just how venomous his tongue could be, lashing out at Chris Poland for hocking guitars for drug money and the PMRC censorship, respectively. And while he's not as consistent as he usually is on this album, every song is a classic except for Anarchy in the UK, which should not be on the "A side" of this album, and 502, which isn't bad, but hints at things like High Speed Dirt and other later songs about speeding, skydiving, and other things that make your heart race with adrenaline. Into the Lungs of Hell is quite interesting as it's the first [and possibly only] instrumental Megadeth has done. The horn and orchestra drum elements are a lot more emphasized on the reissue, which is a tad of a let down, but doesn't hurt the song any as it's only a minor inconvenience. Dave is finally starting to get a decent lead guitar tone, which wasn't horrible before, but it's inching closer to the awesome lead tone on Rust in Peace, which is a good thing. Oh, and his riffs, like those for the song Set the World Afire, are amazing.
The new lead guitarist, Jeff Young... well, I can't really say much about him. He's not awful, but his style isn't realized as he only appears on one Megadeth record and then he's gone. He's sorta sandwiched in there between Poland and Friedman and doesn't seem to have a style of his own that the listener can discern because of this. While what he plays isn't bad, you just don't get an idea what his playing style is like. That said, his solo prior to Dave Mustaine's second solo under the simplified chorus is quite good as is his solo in Set the World Afire. Also, his first solo in SFSGSW is also quite interesting, though it could be better as it doesn't feel like he's "saying" much as his solos ultimately kinda sound like a can of bees. Perhaps it's the production or gear he's using, though. Same goes for Chuck Behler. He's a great drummer, but pretty much is in and out just as quickly. That might have something to do with why this album isn't a favorite of Megadeth fans, because it's a band in transition from one lineup to another more stable one [as opposed to Countdown to Extinction, being a band in transition from one sound to another].
David Ellefson has a decent bass tone on this album and while it's not as upfront as on Countdown to Extinction, it's definitely an improvement over Killing is my Business and Peace Sells. I believe he also has more songwriting credits than on the two previous albums, which is also good. He gets a little spot in Hook in Mouth where it's just him, very cool, but not as memorable or cool as the intro to Peace Sells. Not really much to say about Ellefson other than the fact he seems to have been the rock over the years no matter how hectic or chaotic everything else in Megadeth got. He and Dave really seem to gel and get along, which is a plus because I think it makes the music better.
The production on this album is decent, but not what it could have been. That said, it's not as inconsistent as the songwriting, which is good, but for some reason feels disjointed from one song to the next. It does have some of my favorite Megadeth songs, though, which is a plus. Set the World Afire, Mary Jane, Liar, and Hook in Mouth are definitely worth the price of the album alone, so I definitely suggest buying it if you like Megadeth and thrash metal in general.
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.
Ah, So Far So Good So What?, an album that is overshadowed by its more illustrious predecessor and its even more illustrious successor. Don't get me wrong, I like them both but this album is just as good. It may not have Friedman, Poland, Samuelson or Menza but that doesn't mean the drummer or guitarist is bad. Jeff Young's leads are quite unique but he doesn't play leads often. Behler is actually a very solid drummer though lacks the wow factor that Samuelson had.
The production is an improvement over the last one, the instruments are much clearer though Junior's bass is a little more buried. The guitars are brought forward and with a kick-ass tone to boot. The drums are a MUCH clearer than before and Behler actually does a great performance on some songs. Mustaine's vox sound very different, especially on "Set the World Afire," it sounds like he's hoarse.
Most of the songs are awesome, but oftentimes it's not very thrashy. Case in point the opener, "Into The Lungs of Hell." Perhaps the finest speed metal song Mustaine ever wrote. It's just solo after solo after solo while the drums are total Maiden worship. "Mary Jane" needs a special mention, a very strange song that Mustaine probably wrote while on acid. It's an effective little cruncher about some sort of witch/ghost. While songs like "Set the World Afire," "502," and "HOOK! IN! MOUTH!" should keep speed freaks happy. "Liar" as you all know is Mustaine's 'very mature' response to Poland hocking off his guitars, the lyrics leave much to be desired but the instrumentation outweighs the immaturity. "In My Darkest Hour" is Mustaine's bye-bye to old buddy Burton, although the lyrics are about lovers (I'm not saying anything!). "Anarchy in the UK" is a thrashed up version of a Pistols classic and I'm rather fond of it too, incidentally it's the last cover Megadeth has done.
Overall, this album is worthy of the name Megadeth. Seeing as it's not as insipid as what they would make later on. The songs are pretty good but it's kind of a mixed bag. The re-release has different solos in some songs (or so I'm told,) and has some Paul Lani mixes of certain songs.
Get it? Sure, why not? It's a great album that's trapped between two other great albums.
From their first 4 albums, this is my least favorite one. But then again, it beats everything Megadeth has done since 1992. So what is it that I find lacking on 'So Far, So Good, So what'? Three things.
First of all lack of speed on some songs. Megadeth of course has never released an album that was fast from start to finish. But for some reason it find 'So Far…’to be lacking some thrashing speed at times it needed some. There is some uptempo work on 'Into The Lungs Of Hell', 'Set The World Afire', 'Liar' and '502' but not as close as the tempo we were used to from 'Black Friday' or 'Rattlehead' where fast tempo was combined with some excellent high tech riffing.
Secondly the short length of the album and the presence of a cover to fill some space. I do like this version of 'Anarchy in the U.K.' but its place on the album gives the continuity a strange feeling, I would have liked it more if it had been the last song. Instead I would have prefered an original song though. Now we were left with only 7 new Deth songs. Thirdly the drums. I find Chuck Behlers performance quite one dimensional and uninspiring in the same way that I found Bill Andrews to be a dull drummer when he played in Death.
Okay, what makes it their fourth best album then? Simply some high quality thrash and speedmetal songs. The riffs and melodies of ‘Into The Lungs Of Hell’ are superb and belong to the best on the album. What a great way to open the album with this marvellous instrumental. ‘Set The World Afire’ is with ease the best song here and could have come straight from ‘Peace Sells’. ‘In My Darkest Hour’ is a good powerballad with nice dynamics and quite a decent vocal performance by Mustaine. Another one of my favorites is closing song ‘Hook In Mouth’ which is mostly upbeat pounding thrash and has some of the albums best riffs, a cathcy vocal line and by far the best chorus of the album (One of Deths best chorusses ever even!)
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.
1988 was one of the best years for the Thrash metal. Albums such as "...And Justice For All", "South Of Heaven", "State of Euphoria", "Release From Agony" came out in this year...and the list is much longer. Megadeth also exist in that list with their highly underrated 3rd LP which in my opinion has their best Lead guitar ever and some of their most memorable songs.
The first track is an ambitious instrumental which begins with a clean guitars and then followed by horns and distorted guitar riffs. It's actually an orgasmic intro which builds slowly with awesome guitar leads and top-notched riffs till it leads to the first song ever written by Mustaine after he left Metallica. "Set The World Afire" begins with a silent sample [maybe taken from any song, but I didn't recognized which one] and then kicking your face with aggressive riffs which fits very well the lyrics, talking about the end of the world. Something really outstanding here is that this song isn't built in the regular formula of the verse-chorus-verse-chorus songs, it has some different sections which building superbly a great Thrash metal hymn.
Something REALLY weird is that this song hasn't made it way into their first album, it is really weird because if this is the first song Mustaine wrote then, I don't see any reason why not putting it in "Killing Is My Business..." after all, it beats all the tracks there and this is a very well written song. It isn't the only song which had to be released in their first LP, actually half of the songs here were written somewhere before their first album, but eventually for any reason, they had been released only in 1988.
The next song is a cover for the british Punk band "Sex Pistols" which really beats the orginal version. There is also a special guest in one solo by one of the original members of the band. "Mary Jane" is maybe the worst song here, it isn't a bad song, it's a pretty decent song which has a high variety within it's riffs and some blazing solos, but well, each one has it weak track, in this case this is my least favorite song here.
"502" is the second best song here, the verses are just shouting: Rock N' Roll!
and the chorus is amazingly awesome. Also the riffs are high quality and the lead guitar has some great moments here. "In My Darkest Hour" was wrote in one sitting by Mustaine after he heard about the death of his former band mate [Cliff Burton R.I.P] from Metallica. It also don't have the chorus-verse formula, and this is one of Megadeth's most memorable tracks, it definitely has some of their most emotional moments here and this is just a wondrful Heavy/Speed semi ballad.
This album has 8 tracks, and expect for "Mary Jane" which has some boring parts, each track here is awesome and you must get this album if you fan of Thrash or Speed metal. Highly recommended!
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.
...but sadly was underrated. I mean all you have to do on this album is take a few bits out of some songs and clean it up and it would easilly be loved by more. But even if this was as good as Peace Sells its hard to compete when your sandwhiched inbetween that and Rust in Piece, arguably the two best Megadeth ever did. This album IS though definitly more diverse than either of those two either way you look at it. It has a ballad (In my Darkest hour) in vein of good morning and a punk (say what now?) cover. (Anarchy in the U.S.A.) And what about that instrumental?? Kickass. But of course as any classic megadeth album, this has all the straight away thrashers like Liar and Hook in Mouth. But this album was plauged with some pretty pathetic lyrics and some Im guessing didnt like the diversity. If you can look past that youll realize how awesome this really is.
It starts out with Into the Lungs of Hell a very interesting instrumental with some fast melodic guitar thrown in. If you listen to this expecting vocals to pop in at any second your going to be dissapointed but its honestly one of the better songs here. Thrash fans might be turned off by the unusual to say the least intro. Then the best song on the album (and second best Megadeth song period) blasts through my speakers demanding me to thrash. It goes through all sorts of time changing from Priest-Esque to Slayer-Esque and all over the place. Nose dive. Right into a SEX PISTOLS cover but... by god it really works. Who would have thought. An actual low-point of this roller coaster of an album is Mary Jane. Yea I said this is diverse but I mean the very beggining is a little TO left wing for me. Did I say low point???? Suddenly at 2:55 this becomes a complete monster. A HIGH POINT for sure. Why the hell couldnt the entire song be this good? Now here comes Dave's drunk rambling "Pull over shit-head... its the cops" in 502. Horrible lyrics and that annoying car noises section is saved by good music and a really great chorus. Also a really nice solo to round things out. The ballad like number In My Darkest Hour is sort of boring at the beggining but really picks up later in the song that turns into a real thrasher. Interesting acoustics also add a nice feel to the song. Once again a wonderful solo. Next is Liar and its about damn time. Ive been waiting for a real classic Megadeth thrasher for the whole album and I certainly get it with a little more on the side. One of the best Megadeth riffs on the album is the opening for this one.To bad we dont get to hear it to much. It ends kind of odd but that just adds to it. Second best song on the album is another good thrasher Hook in Mouth. Good fast song that starts with just drum and bass. Again Dave wasnt exactly poetic on this album as we can see with his lyrics here. But it doesnt really detract from the song itself.
Well that certainly was a trip, now wasnt it? Probably the most interesting Deth album out there. Even if you dont like it you cant say its boring atleast.
All in all, if your a fan of Megadeth, thrash, speed, or power metal... get this. It'll certainly make for an eventful listen.
The third studio release from Megadeth is quite a kick in the nuts, although generally disregarded as the weakest of the classic Megadeth era. But up to "Rust In Peace", I think everything they did was pretty fucking solid - though I have yet to hear all of "Killing Is My Business" (or anything after it aside from "The System Has Failed").
"So Far, So Good... So What!" is a good slab of melodic speed/thrash with tons of catchy hooks and memorable riffs everywhere, and although Dave Mustaine was constantly fucked up during this time, you can tell he had a blast writing and playing these songs. His enjoyment in making the music he loved really goes through to the music, while still sounding just as pissed as is classic Megadeth's trademark. "The pain, the pain, the pain, won't you hold me again? You just laughed, ha ha... bitch!" Random angry outbursts = Krieg. Another example is "You... you.. you fucking liar!!!!"
This release is alot more melodic than the previous effort, "Peace Sells... But Who's Buying", and in my opinion almost as good. And there's more variety on this one than many 80s thrash albums. We have the opening ownage of the melodic, almost power metal intro of "Into The Lungs of Hell" blasting into "Set The World Afire", a raging thrasher with varying tempos and tons of riffs.
Then we have the quick slab of stripped-down thrash called "502", which is a song about just hitting the highway and driving fast, and is one of my favourite tracks on here. "Mary Jane" is very melodic and goes through a ton of changes and has a great overall mood, and peaks at that monstrous ending section with the dueling vocal lines and guitar solos.
And also something completely different in "In My Darkest Hour", a midpaced balladic song with huge emotion in it and nice driving riffage to go along with it, and that excellent speeding up towards the end kicks ass.
All the songs on here are really good though, not a downer among 'em, even the cover of "Anarchy In The U.K." is really well done and damn catchy, although I prefer Mötley Crües version of the song.
"So Far, So Good... So What" is another essential Megadeth album, and the remaster features some fun liner notes and interesting old mixes of some songs, plus kickass sound quality - which from what I've been told wasn't the best on the original album. Yeah, get this.
Although I think I’ve been fairly objective with my 87 over all ranking, I also know that I tend to overrate this album as a whole because I tend to focus on its highlights. The album consists of four songs (‘Into the Lungs of Hell’, ‘Set the World Afire’, ‘Mary Jane’, ‘In My Hour of Darkness’) which range from nearly to clearly flawless. These are the songs I am thinking of when I think of this album as essential. Unfortunately the other four selections on the record are not nearly as solid and at the end of the day probably constitute just a little too much filler for this album to be considered one of the all time great thrash albums.
‘Into the Lungs of Hell’ is a well-paced, well-structured instrumental introduction to the album. All too often the instrumental introduction tends to be an easily skipped selection, but I still listen to this one all the way through and think it stands on its own as a composition.
Most thrash writers would be grateful to come up with just one the several parts making up ‘Set the World Afire’. In the first two minutes alone, Mr. Mustaine whips off two or three different riffs that could alone carry a song, and the different riffs/sections of this song do not stop coming. Fortunately, unlike the case in many thrash songs, the frequent changes don’t leave the song sounding disjointed. On the contrary, the parts all hang together quite nicely and the song never gets stale, even after a hundred listens. For those growing up when Reagan was in power and sharing what is probably a never ending fear of world wide nuclear devastation, I imagine this song will always especially ring true: “They said it'd never come, we knew it was a lie.”
‘Mary Jane’ is probably still as odd sounding a s song today as in 1987. The song has several tempo changes with some very clever lead playing. It’s a slow yet heavy number at the outset with a simple but instantly memorable guitar line that kicks in at about :40 right before the verse kicks in. The song picks up speed throughout and Mustaine’s vocals slowly climb the register. Again, a bit of an odd thrash song, but incredible catchy.
‘In My Darkest Hour’ is considered by many to be the masterpiece of the album, and by some to be one Megadeth’s finest songs. This song is also often associated in some way with Cliff Burton. Mustaine himself described the song as such in interviews conducted in the early portions of writing the album. However, the lyrics actually suggest a different topic, a relationship (perhaps romantic) gone seriously awry:
Did you ever think I get lonely
Did you ever think that I needed love
Did you ever think to stop thinking
You're the only one that I'm thinking of
You'll never know how hard I tried
To find my space and satisfy you too
As bad as that sounds, it appears that things are getting worse for the narrator:
But oh how I lived my life for you
Still you'd turn away
Now as I die for you
My flesh still crawls as I breathe your name
The songs builds perfectly in speed and momentum, eventually clocking in at over 6 minutes. One of the longer Megadeth songs and worth every minute
As mentioned above, the rest of the album (‘Anarchy in the UK’, ‘502’,’ Liar’ and ‘Hook in Mouth’) pale in comparison to the rest of the album and most of Megadeth’s early output (although the quick, single note heavy riff at the beginning of ‘502’ is reminiscent of some of the great riffs found on ‘Killing is My Business . . .’, the song quickly peters out). The problem songs of this album are indicative of two general problems for Dave Mustaine: his somewhat questionable choice and execution of cover songs (‘No More Mr. Nice Guy’?, ‘I Ain’t Superstitious’?....ok, I’ll give you ‘These Boots’) and his struggles with writing lyrics that don’t deal with war, the occult, or death. However, anyone who has a chance to spend some time with this album should be able to overlook the blemishes and revel in the solid thrash gems.
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.
I actually enjoy this album even more than the predecessor, because it's a speed-thrash album, as opposed to a straight-up thrash album... some of the melody ideas that were developing on the past two albums come up at their finest here. A lot of people consider this one a throwaway album, but it's actually quite excellent.
Opening the album is Into the Lungs of Hell - a classic speed-metal instrumental introduction in the vein of the Ides of March, but 1000x as heavy. Next is Set the World Afire, which is a nice thrasher with some great time changes, and is also overall catchy as fuck. Other highlights include the insanely fast "Hook in Mouth", the well-done somewhat balladic "In my Darkest Hour", and "Mary Jane", which is theoretically not an ode to ganja, but rather about a ghost that Dave Mustaine sees... (while on an LSD trip, no doubt.) Tripped out as he is, he manages to play one Hell of a guitar solo - one of Megadeth's best ever.
There really are no throwaway tracks, and so many thrash and speed highlights. The cover song, Anarchy in the UK, is made into a total thrasher, and Liar has a middle section that precedes Exodus's "Verbal Razors" (and also runs circles around that song). This album is highly worth getting, and is definitely one of Megadeth's best.