Review Summary: Rusty? Noise? Unimaginative? Original? These are the four core words that describe what this album is not.
If it hasn't come to anyone's attention about Megadeth, or any of the other top four thrash groups of the world, then a huge chunk of life is missing from you. Whether or not metal has ever appealed to you, it is still nearly impossible to pass up the opportunity to experience some bitter and raw thrash. There are many bands that have a reputation purely because they changed their sound, or experimented on a number of scales to supposedly "improve" their music. Between Megadeth and Metallica, thrash has been more of a battle between the popularity of the two groups than the twin guitars have in each of the bands. This realm of experimentation and complex musical structures has unveiled a new side to Megadeth's style that was hoped to have shaped their destiny in a prominent fashion, and since their previous album Rust in Peace, I must say, this is a major upholding without the slightest downfall.
Countdown to Extinction is one of the most impressive examples of experimentation I have ever witnessed in the thrash kingdom. Whatever the excuse is, be it the raw and eerie guitars in "Sweating Bullets", or the thunderous appeal to "Skin O' My Teeth", Megadeth have undoubtedly reinvented a dying formula overused for years amongst thrash bands both small and large.
Megadeth's approach to this album has fallen into an interesting category, at every turn there is something not seen too many times before from the bands previous discography that keeps the album going on until the end. Many of the tracks rely on a simple musical structure, promised by modified formula for success. These tracks include some improvements on the band's part such as "Foreclosure of a Dream" or "Architecture of Aggression". As a matter of fact, nearly the entire first half of the album unveils some promising aspects the band's new accordance and battle of instrumentation whilst Dave Mustaine shatters the album (in a good way) with his vocals.
Countdown to Extinction shows us more basic elements to thrash music, and at the same time, extends them past most anything the group has tried before. "Sweating Bullets" is the best example of this. The intro starts out eerie, but breaks into the simplest verse which unusually revolves around the vocals. With convoluted lyrics pertaining to Dave Mustaine speaking to himself, this song records a strange style for the band. When the chorus breaks in, the instrumentation picks up, but after the strange verse, the desire to continue listening to the lyrics persists.
However many people are actually interested in listening to metal lyrics, that number will definitely be picked up in this album. Dave Mustaine's vocals will without a doubt bring you into a scene of emotion that you'll want to listen to more than just the battling guitars, or thunderous bass effects. The backdrops in this album unlike a lot of more old-school thrash groups become the instruments more than anything else. Simply, the vocals stand out more, and the compulsion to listen to the lyrics in a lot of these songs will surely become noticeable before the first track is over.
Megadeth, as said before, have done beyond excellent in reinventing, and perhaps keeping the music alive with this reinvention of music that'll appeal to any core metal-head. As for the band, the first album's, all the way up through their ultimatum success Rust in Peace, have never showed anything quite like this. As for the future, well, something sacred is surely held in this album considering this is a rather protective style that only Megadeth have perfected. Outside the four core groups, nothing this promising has ever been uplifted into anything any discography has ever shown. As great as this is, it is left brand new.