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Megadeth's most mature effort - 85%

screamingfordefender, September 12th, 2010

To all those people who have to argue whether this is "metal enough" to be listened to or those who ignore everything this band put out after "Rust in Peace", let's just call it hard rock, and move on shall we?. The 90's wasn't an arms race, Dave Mustaine wasn't an angry guy in his twenties anymore. This is just natural progression for the band, no matter how you put it. The guitar strings are tuned down half a step, with more focus on the lyrics and choruses than before. They left behind almost all their thrash metal influences on 'Countdown to Extinction', which isn't to say that there are no memorable riffs or solos on this record. Unlike the surprisingly mediocre and forgettable 'Load' by Metallica, Megadeth do everything right and put out a solid record. Ignore this only if you're a fool.

Mustaine's vocals have always been a 'touchy' subject. How much you enjoy them depends mostly on your tastes. Lyrically, the album is a reflection of Dave's views on war, life and other sensitive issues. Everything sounds good enough on the re-mastered version and you need not go out and search for the originals. The riffing is far more simpler than anything else they've ever did. The songs are slower, more melodic, which makes it easier to digest for beginners. The hooky riffs are enough to keep the mainstream rock fans interested. "Reckoning day" and "Train of consequences" begin the album with some monster riffs that would still make any classic Megadeth fan happy.

This is the same Megadeth of old, only now in a more accessible and radio-friendly package. "A tout le monde" is the first proper hard rock ballad written by Dave, which is way better than the version found on 'United Abominations', which was an abomination itself. The lyrics are crafted in a simple but touching manner. Because unlike bands like Def Leppard, who decided to abandon their balls altogether and make sugary pop rock ballads for mainstream consumption, "A tout le monde" was made with integrity still left intact. "Elysian fields" and the 4 tracks after it, including the title track are firmly in hard rock territory. Mustaine's song writing is at it's most mature. Nick Menza is the best drummer this band ever had. The drums are mixed brilliantly to complement the thick riffs and snarling vocals over them. Ellefson's bass is ever present and lays a solid foundation for the guitars, although he isn't given too much solo time. Mustaine even finds time to experiment and dabble with mythology and greek history on songs such as "Elysian fields" and "Blood of heroes". The other tracks fit nicely into the album and plod along without being boring or repulsive. At 50 minutes long, It feels just right.

This is NOT a second class Megadeth album by any means. This is as good as any they've ever released. Their best record in the past two decades and to this day they haven't topped it yet. This is a band who shaped their sound with changing times but still produced an album of integrity and genuine quality. It is a worthy successor to 'Rust in Peace' or 'Countdown to Extinction'. The remastered version has a few bonus tracks including a demo of "New world order", which is very rare. The band would further simplify their sound and fall prey to monotony on their next few albums but 'Youthanasia' is a solid 90's hard rock album and one of the best albums of 1994.