Rating:
8.9
Megadeth - Countdown To Extinction
6 July 1992


01. Skin O' My Teeth
02. Symphony Of Destruction
03. Architecture Of Aggression
04. Foreclosure Of A Dream
05. Sweating Bullets
06. This Was My Life
07. Countdown To Extinction
08. High Speed Dirt
09. Psychotron
10. Captive Honour
11. Ashes In Your Mouth
12. Crown Of Worms [2004 re-release bonus]
13. Countdown To Extinction [demo version] [2004 re-release bonus]
14. Symphony Of Destruction [demo version] [2004 re-release bonus]
15. Psychotron [demo version] [2004 re-release bonus]


Megadeth, band with multiple personalities. Like a schizophrenic family member, you just have to love it. All Megadeth albums have strong identities, some of them being softer and more melodic - ok, commercial - and some of them more raw and thrashy. Dave Mustaine has always recreated Megadeth's skin over and over again, but the biggest leap in Megadeth's musical evolution happened between albums So Far, So Good... So What! (1987) and Countdown To Extinction (1992).

Between those albums mentioned above, is of course the brilliant Rust In Peace. The landmark of thrash metal, a burst of newly discovered energy and creativity with Megadeth's most praised line-up Dave Mustaine/Dave Ellefson/Nick Menza/Marty Friedman. With all the success with the album and more professional (and more sober) musicians - all financial and artistic tools to succeed again were there. Dave Mustaine also made a good move by taking the mixer of Rust In Peace, Max Norman, with him - this time as a co-producer. After spending four months in Enterprise Studios in Burbank California, Countdown To Extinction was ready to hit the charts - and of course the hearts of all the metalheads. Result was Megadeth's biggest commercial success ever, with it debuting second in Billboard Top 200 US, and fifth in Billboard Top 200 UK. Music videos kept on rollin' on MTV, also Grammy nominations and other awards were given to this album.

How about music itself? Did Countdown To Extinction turn out to be a sell-out radio friendly album? More hard rock songs and ballads than actual thrash metal? No, not just yet in my opinion. Those sad and uninspired albums came out years later, and while songs in Countdown To Extinction were shorter than Rust In Peace, and maybe less progressive, too, the album had a certain mean and nasty edge still left in it. The album was well produced and more polished than before, but it wasn't a fat heavy rock dinosaur like Metallica's self-titled album released the same year. The album opener "Skin O' My Teeth", "Symphony Of Destruction" and "High Speed Dirt" represented more straight forward and simpler thrashy rock songs, while "Architecture Of Aggression", "Sweating Bullets" and "Psychotron" were more complex (yet compact) songs - containing more twisted riffs and unusual melodies. Maybe the finest moments in the album for my taste came from the melodic and kind of post-apocalyptic songs like "Foreclosure Of A Dream", "Countdown To Extinction" and "Captive Honour". What about those Marty vs. Dave solo battles that so many enjoyed in Rust In Peace? Closing track on the album, "Ashes In Your Mouth" offers that plenty - what a great contrast between melodic and classical style by Friedman, versus angry and thrashy shredding style by Mustaine. Simply awesome.

As a conclusion, Countdown To Extinction is a great album. Its biggest weakness is maybe having a little too produced and polished sound for old school thrash metal fans, and lack of absolute killer tracks like "Holy Wars", "Tornado of Souls" or "Hangar 18". On the other hand, there are no totally worthless filler tracks either. Dave Mustaine had still that nice nihilistic attitude in his music when it comes to the world, politicians, and human kind. Just what I have always thought that Megadeth is all about. Maybe more than a thrash metal band.

Performance: 10
Songwriting: 10
Originality: 9
Production: 9


Band profile: Megadeth
Album: Countdown To Extinction


 


written by Thyroid | 30.11.2011


Guest review disclaimer:
This is a guest review, which means it does not necessarily represent the point of view of the MS Staff.

Guest review by
Gorey

Rating:
9.0
It's not easy for any band to recover from the success of its last album, above all when it has brought the house down, as Rust In Peace did. Yet Megadeth has made it. Better than that, they have coontinued on their momentum with the same lineup (Mustaine, Ellefson, Friedman, Menza). And this Countdown to Extinction, besides being the sales record for the band, is a real masterstroke.
Made in 1992, Countdown to Extinction has proved itself different from Rust in Peace, especially because of the structure of the riffs, widely purified.
The listening begins with the fast "Skin O'My Teeth", which is an excellent and very catchy appetizer. But the greta sensation comes from the second track "Symphony of Destruction", that can be considered like the hit of the album, so much that its simple and repeating riff strikes by its ingenuity. Certainly Dave Mustaine shows that he really owns the art of creating success. Besides, it must be noticed that the quality of the vocals has never been that good, languorous and radiant on the bewitching "Foreclosure of a Dream", or dangerously aggressive on "Sweating Bullets". On these last tracks the inventiveness of the four men reaches the sublime and the dizzy. "Architecture of Aggression" and "Psychotron" create darker and more disturbing atmospheres than the rest of the album with perfect guitar playing.
Because the most impressive is the real duel that Mustaine and Friedman fight, alternating for the solos, with for example the very quick "High Speed Dirt", which is a sign of the good form of the four men. It's the same thing on the wonderful "Ashes in your Mouth", devastating by its power and proving itself a highlight for Megadeth. Then, "Countdown to Extinction" is a track a bit on the fringes of the rest of the album but it is a pleasant song with a remarkable tune. To end with this, "This was my life" is a very good track that, like the preceeding one, is quite lively. The main criticism on this album is about the general sound, which may sometimes be too perfect, that is, too cold compared to the hot boost of Rust in Peace. But this fault is too minimal to turn one's back on this album.
Countdown to Extinction is an album that cannot be ignored, and not having it is a crime.
published 22.09.2003 | Comments (17)

Guest review by
Arian Totalis

Rating:
8.2
"Oh my God, really?!?! It's number 2?' is what came out of my mouth, but inside, I was pissed. I wanted that number one spot." (from commentary in the remastered version)

These words are the perfect exemplification of the spirit in the making of this album. The drive to make good music was leaving, and replacing it was a drive for commercialism. Now don't get me wrong, this is a good album, but it was also the beginning of the decline in Megadeth's music, a decline that would last for for the span of four albums respectively, until their redeeming 2004 release of "The System has Failed." But enough about this, let's talk about the quality of the album.

Read more ››
published 14.01.2009 | Comments (11)



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snake? snaaaake! - 30.11.2011 at 23:51  
Although slightly unnecessary considering theres already two postive reviews, it was nicely written.

However I do disagree with you on the "multiple personalities" you believe Megadeth have. I suppose the first few albums do have something about them in that respect, but between this album and their latest, they really haven't shown much variation. I mean 13 could be Youthanisia part II.
Thyroid - 01.12.2011 at 01:03  
Written by snake? snaaaake! on 30.11.2011 at 23:51

Although slightly unnecessary considering theres already two postive reviews, it was nicely written.

However I do disagree with you on the "multiple personalities" you believe Megadeth have. I suppose the first few albums do have something about them in that respect, but between this album and their latest, they really haven't shown much variation. I mean 13 could be Youthanisia part II.


That might have been a little strong statement, I admit.

And yes, I was thinking more of Megadeth's first half of their career. "So Far... So Good...So What!" and "Youthanasia" are both excellent albums - I cannot put them order which one is better, and same time they are like from a totally different band just with Mustaine's voice. Much easier with bands like Slayer - there's only one excellent "version" of Slayer above others, they should stick to it, end of story. And that is Reign In Blood -> Seasons In Abyss era. But there are many "versions" of Megadeth that I like very much. Not many bands come to mind, that I feel the same way.
Ace Frawley - 02.12.2011 at 12:12  
Interesting comment that 13 could be Youthanasia part II. I might give it a listen at some stage because I actually don't mind Youthanasia, even though I know it gets bad reviews. I do think Rust in Peace is their best and I really enjoyed Countdown to Extinction when it came out. Nice review, by the way.
Angelic Storm - 03.12.2011 at 05:45  
I can't really see how anyone can slam Metallica's self-titled, yet give such a huge amount of praise to this album. Especially when the attack is on being "heavy rock". The riffs on "Skin O' My Teeth" and "High Speed Dirt" are far more akin to hard rock than anything on the black album, (barring the ballads) so that seems like a very misguided point to me. And there is absolutely no thrash on Countdown at all, bar "Ashes In Your Mouth". Many people believe, including myself, that Dave Mustaine started deliberately chasing mainstream acceptance and radio play with this album, and not any of the later ones. It may have all culminated in "Risk", but no doubt, Countdown was the starting point on the road that led to that album.

Now, I actully like CTE, I think it has many great songs, even though it suffers a bit from being mid-paced juat about all the way through. But it does seem that many Megadeth fans have blinkers on regarding the sell-out allegation, all the while bashing Metallica, without realising what hypocrites they are making themselves look by doing so.
Troy Killjoy - 03.12.2011 at 05:54  
Written by Angelic Storm on 03.12.2011 at 05:45
I can't really see how anyone can slam Metallica's self-titled, yet give such a huge amount of praise to this album.

While I am one of those who considers the black album to be a hard rock release, I'm definitely not blind to the commercialism that comes with this release. Like you said, anyone who claims this is a thrash release and says otherwise about Metallica's s/t is a hypocrite.

If you think one is thrash or heavy or hard rock, then you should think the same of the other, because the two of them have uncanny similarities.
Angelic Storm - 03.12.2011 at 06:25  
Written by Troy Killjoy on 03.12.2011 at 05:54
While I am one of those who considers the black album to be a hard rock release, I'm definitely not blind to the commercialism that comes with this release. Like you said, anyone who claims this is a thrash release and says otherwise about Metallica's s/t is a hypocrite.

If you think one is thrash or heavy or hard rock, then you should think the same of the other, because the two of them have uncanny similarities.


Yes, it's always bewildered me when people claim Countdown... is "thrash", and/or slamming Metallica for the rock and commercialism of the Black Album, yet are somehow completely oblivious to the fact that Megadeth did the exact same thing with Countdown. If anything, to my ears at least, the hard rock influences are definitely more pronounced on Countdown than they are on the Black Album. I still remember being taken aback the first time I heard "Skin O' My Teeth", because the song was clearly far more hard rock than the thrash they played in the past. I was like "woah, what's this?!"

I do agree very much, that there are a few similarities between the two albums, yet some Megadeth fans don't acknowledge this at all. Or maybe it's more a case of that they don't want to acknowledge it.
BitterCOld - 03.12.2011 at 06:34  
Anyone who slams 90s metallica while insisting megadave stayed tr00 to thrash is just a blind fool whose opinion should just be discounted.

megadave spent 20 years following metallica's footsteps. only reason he pushed back to "thrash" is because his sell out attempt wasn't remotely as successful as the other guys. fortunately for him his fan(bois) so hate metallica they overlook his cashgrab.

i posted somewhere else tonight (as for whatever reason this fucking waste of 40 minutes keeps getting bumped in various threads/forums) that this was every bit the letdown that the Black Album was. actually, it was WORSE as it was his chance to supplant them in the not-as-scary-as-Slayer thrash field.

for all you Morbid Angel fans that stumble on to this, this release sucked MORE balls back in the day than Ilud does now. At least MA went slightly creative, if not 15 years late. this was just a blatant sell out.

but they've forgiven him Risk, so no wonder something with a distortion pedal gets slobbed over.
Angelic Storm - 03.12.2011 at 06:49  
Written by BitterCOld on 03.12.2011 at 06:34

for all you Morbid Angel fans that stumble on to this, this release sucked MORE balls back in the day than Ilud does now. At least MA went slightly creative, if not 15 years late. this was just a blatant sell out.


At the risk of taking this discussion too much off topic, I (unlike many other MA fans) never saw Illud as a "sell-out". That doesn't mean I like the moments of electronica on the album, because I dislike them very much. Particularly on "Too Extreme!", and "Radikult". But I can appreciate they were trying to be artistic and creative with that stuff, as misguided as the attempt may have been. And also, despite the sterile production, a small amount of tracks like "Existo Vulgore", "Nevermore", and "Blades For Baahl" are clearly their old school brand of death metal, so they experimented, but never completely abandoned their roots and core style. Something that as much as I like some of Megadeth's commercial stuff, I simply can't deny that Dave Mustaine did. He sold out with Countdown, and that's all there is to it. To deny that is having blinkers on, in my opinion.
BitterCOld - 03.12.2011 at 06:55  
Written by Angelic Storm on 03.12.2011 at 06:49


At the risk of taking this discussion too much off topic, I (unlike many other MA fans) never saw Illud as a "sell-out". That doesn't mean I like the moments of electronica on the album, because I dislike them very much. Particularly on "Too Extreme!", and "Radikult". But I can appreciate they were trying to be artistic and creative with that stuff, as misguided as the attempt may have been. And also, despite the sterile production, a small amount of tracks like "Existo Vulgore", "Nevermore", and "Blades For Baahl" are clearly their old school brand of death metal, so they experimented, but never completely abandoned their roots and core style. Something that as much as I like some of Megadeth's commercial stuff, I simply can't deny that Dave Mustaine did. He sold out with Countdown, and that's all there is to it. To deny that is having blinkers on, in my opinion.


it (MA) is not a sell out, it is a massive disappointment to folks who had high hopes... which is as close to today's whippersnappers can get from what I (and many others) felt back in the 90s when various other M bands released steaming disappointments.

it's a taste of "as it happens live" rather than 20 years in retrospect.-
Angelic Storm - 03.12.2011 at 07:03  
Written by BitterCOld on 03.12.2011 at 06:55
it is not a sell out, it is a massive disappointment to folks who had high hopes... which is as close to today's whippersnappers can get from what I (and many others) felt back in the 90s when various other M bands released steaming disappointments.

it's a taste of "as it happens live" rather than 20 years in retrospect.-


It isn't a sell out, but many people have the misguided opinion that any major deviation in a band's sound compared to it's original style is "selling out". It certainly was a big disappointment to me, even if I don't hate it in the rabid way that some do, and I could find a small amount to enjoy in the album. Even if it is far off from the magnificence of their early stuff.
Thyroid - 03.12.2011 at 14:22  
I read my review again, and I didn't actually found where i wrote that this is clearly thrash metal album and Metallica's s/t is just plain heavy rock. Although I admit, that what I wrote sounds that way. I think that "heavy metal" describes this best, which is different than "heavy rock". More metal than rock anyway, and definately with some thash metal elements still left, while Metallica's s/t didn't had none. Youthanasia and Metallca's s/t have much more in common genrewise.

But I guess, genre issues weren't first thing on my mind when I compared this and Metallica's black one. I was more considering about whole athmosphere, honesty, feeling and attitude on these albums. Like I wrote on last sentence "Dave Mustaine had still that nice nihilistic attitude in his music when it comes to the world, politicians, and human kind. Just what I have always thought that Megadeth is all about." And what I think is also important, I talk original masters all the time - those 2004 Megadeth's re-releases are plain horrible and pretty much ruined every Megadeth album. Especially Peace Sells and SFSGSW, but also pretty much CTE.

When I bought Metallica's s/t when it was released, at first I was blown away - but very soon find out, that everything I so much loved on Master of Puppets and especially on AJFA was gone. I felt that Hetfield and co. tried so hard to be still bad ass band with bad ass songs, and it felt so much... forced? Songs like "Enter Sandman", "Holier Than Thou" and many other felt like fat, uninspired and lazy. On the other hand, I found songs like "The Unforgiven" and "Nothing Else Matters" most honest on that album - kinda like I thought about "Addicted to Chaos" and "Family Tree" on Youthansia. There's nothing wrong with melodic heavy metal, or even ballads. What comes to Youthanasia, it was disappointment to me also, but it didn't felt so much forced - except for the hit single "Train of Concequences" - it was pretty good heavy metal album on it's own way, and much more focused and logically melodic on the big picture.

Thanks a lot from feedback, and good points anyway!!
Syk - 15.12.2011 at 14:51  
Definitely - see finite, infinity. Infinite - definite is kind of the opposite of that (in meaning, not spelling)
Written by Thyroid on 03.12.2011 at 14:22
definately with some thrash metal elements still left, while Metallica's s/t didn't had none. Youthanasia and Metallca's s/t have much more in common genrewise
I haven't heard all of Youth so I can't say there, but Met s/t had thrash elements - or at least, residue of that sentiment - about as much as CtE, with Holier, Struggle, and perhaps Tread and Wolf. The rest of the more ...basic? That's not quite the right word... heavy metal continues pretty much in the vein of AJFA's hm tracks like Beholder and the very long ones. With a much more mainstream bent, of course. And CtE is much the same in taking a more mainstream focus to the preceeding album, RiP IMO being about as close to heavy metal as it is to thrash. Not 50:50, but close. And in the 91/92 release, the thrash is indeed overwhelmed, almost extirpated, by the hm. I kinda feel like talking about Anthrax now... but ah, I'm too lazy/tired/behind in other priorities
Haiwaan Das - 23.12.2011 at 05:55  
Dave Mustaine invited Kirk, James, Lars, Bob Rock, Rick Rubin, Dave Ellefson, Nick Menza, polland, trujillo and other for dinner tonight and after to watch "Steven Speillberg's Adventure of Tintin" together tonight.

Metallica and gang listening to "iron maiden's Blood Brother for inspiration."

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