Megadeth
Countdown to Extinction


4.0
excellent

Review

by Mike Stagno EMERITUS
August 6th, 2006 | 478 replies


Release Date: 1992 | Tracklist


Over their careers, many big bands change the style of music they play. Metallica, once the biggest thrash metal band in the world, softened up their sound to a more accessible, mainstream style of metal. Judas Priest changed their sound many, many times; with styles ranging from classic metal, to a more hard rock sound, as well as speed metal, and even a stint in hair metal. Even Gothenburg Metallers, In Flames, have experimented with new sounds.

Megadeth, one of the "Big Four" bands of thrash metal also changed up their music. The band had released four excellent thrash albums, with two of them being considered thrash masterpieces, Rust in Peace in 1990 and Peace Sells…But Who's Buying in 1988. In 1992, the band opted for a more accessible release, entered the studio, and came out with Countdown to Extinction, the band's most successful album to date. Countdown to Extinction reached #2 in the American charts. In the long run, this was probably the worst thing that could have happened to the band. According to the album's linear notes, Megadeth's main man, Dave Mustaine, was very upset that the album didn't hit the coveted #1 spot in the charts. The band wanted to reach #1 so much that they got progressively poppier until their 1999 album, Risk. None of the albums coming after Countdown – Youthanasia, Cryptic Writings, and Risk – ever reached #1, and none of them sold as well as Countdown to Extinction either.

Just like when Metallica released the famous Black Album, detractors of Megadeth screamed "sellout" after the release of the album. But there is none of that here. With Countdown to Extinction, Megadeth still produced some excellent metal. This time, rather than recording a heavy, technical riff-fest like they did on Rust in Peace, Dave and Co. played simpler, more melodic tunes that will appeal more to the average listener. Songs such as Captive Honour, Countdown to Extinction, and This Was My Life, displayed this more melodic approach to metal, particularly the title track, with its fantastic bridges and interludes. But the album still showcases a heavier side to Megadeth. Songs such as Architecture of Aggression, Pyschotron, Ashes in Your Mouth, and Megadeth's biggest hit, Symphony of Destruction, prove to listeners that the band still retains its heaviness. Also remaining on Countdown are Marty Friedman's amazing guitar solos. While he doesn’t shred like he does on Hangar 18 or Holy Wars…The Punishment Due, he has some exciting moments on the album such as the solo in Symphony of Destruction, or Ashes in Your Mouth.

Countdown to Extinction is home to some of Megadeth's strangest moments and songs. The first is one of the singles, Sweating Bullets. The song starts off with a simple, yet eerie guitar riff, which is followed by a long spoken section in which Dave talks to himself. The spoken section is bitter and sarcastic, mocking Dave and how he lives. The spoken part represents the split personalities and voices that may or may not have actually been inside Dave's head at the time. The album contains several of these spoken sections, and at times the can be pretty entertaining. "Well me, it's been nice talking to myself"… The band would explore this technique again in a later song titled, Dread and the Fugitive Mind. Another slightly odd part of Countdown to Extinction shows up on the tenth song, Captive Honour. The song contains an amusing dialogue between the band members with the scene depicting an on going trial at a courthouse. The dialogue fits into the song's themes, and reminds me of all those short tracks in between songs in a concept album that are there merely to move the story along (See Blind Guardian's Nightfall in Middle Earth, it’s got a dozen of them).

I like Dave's vocals on Countdown to Extinction a lot more than on any other album. Dave Mustaine's singing style is a love it or hate it kind of thing. Those who enjoy listening to Dave belt out the his lyrics in Rust in Peace or Peace Sells will love his singing in Countdown, while those who dislike them will have to look for some other redeeming quality in the music, as Megadeth relies on Dave's singing quite a lot. In my opinion, his vocals are at their best, especially on the title track, Architecture of Aggression, and Captive Honour. Dave's voice sounds really great with the melodic style of music found on this album, and are as catchy as they will ever be. I think his vocals are more suited to the lighter sound of Countdown, Youthanasia, and Cryptic Writings, rather than the gritty, harsher vocals needed for an album like Killing is My Business.

Countdown to Extinction was Megadeth's first step into the world of mainstream music. Despite softening up the sound, the music still remains enjoyable and the band still maintains its identity, something that the band lacked in albums like Risk. Though the band opted for a lighter album (and it isn't exactly light to begin with) traces of the bands former thrash metal sound can still be found on songs such as Architecture of Aggression or Ashes in Your Mouth. Countdown to Extinction is no Rust in Peace, but it is a very enjoyable ride that anybody can enjoy.

Recommended Tracks:
Ashes in Your Mouth
Architecture of Aggression
Psychotron
Symphony of Destruction



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user ratings (2177)
Chart.
4
excellent
other reviews of this album
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Comments:Add a Comment 
Mikesn
Emeritus
August 6th 2006


3709 Comments

Album Rating: 3.9

And that's three reviews in one day.

Woo :chug:

Channing
August 6th 2006


497 Comments


Once again, great job.

Mikesn
Emeritus
August 6th 2006


3709 Comments

Album Rating: 3.9

Thanks, man.

bicepman4000
August 6th 2006


246 Comments


Not a fan of Megadeth, but good review

ToWhatEnd
August 7th 2006


3172 Comments


Never listened to this album actually. I was all about RIP and Peace Sells. Nice review once again and congrats on 3 in 1 day!

Dethtrasher
August 7th 2006


2211 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

I guess this is the only Deth-album that I can't enjoy.
Hehe, 3 reviews in a day, well they are well-written all of them Keep it up!

wakeupdead
November 30th 2006


2208 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Nice review! This is my 3rd least favourite Megadeth album (after Cryptic Writings, and Risk), but is still a very good album that I often enjoy. ;)

Mikesn
Emeritus
November 30th 2006


3709 Comments

Album Rating: 3.9

Thanks man.

This is my third favourite though, after Rust in Peace and Peace Sells. Too many good songs. Architecture of Aggression, Psychotron, Ashes in Your Mouth, Sweating Bullets, Captive Honour. It's all good.

DethMagnetic
September 29th 2008


110 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Awesome album my favorite is Ashes in your mouth

sotos
November 18th 2008


25 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

very good album

symphony is a CLASSIC song.

Dragonforce89
January 20th 2009


331 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Second best Megadeth album.

SlaveLabor
January 20th 2009


453 Comments


I'd say it was the 5th best but still very awesome

lauriej
January 20th 2009


1712 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

For once, I agree with DF89.

Groogen
March 13th 2009


28 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

'and Peace Sells…But Who's Buying in 1988'. Wasn't that album released in 1986? Sorry im not trying to be an asshole, just pointing this out.

KILL
July 21st 2009


72086 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

HIGH SPEED DIRT!!!!

Digging: Steve Hackett - Out of the Tunnel's Mouth

Jesuslaves
August 5th 2009


4658 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

Has its moments, I like Youthanasia more.

devouredbymetal
August 14th 2009


516 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

absolute killer . favorite tracks - foreclosure of a dream, symphony of destruction, skin o' my teeth

KILL
August 23rd 2009


72086 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

ashes in your mouth is the best thing here

Cerbyrus
October 1st 2009


568 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Agreed.

CrazyFool84
January 26th 2010


1080 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

prolly one of my favs from Megadeth



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