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The quintessential Megadeth album? - 90%

The_Grand_Destructor, April 21st, 2007

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.