Upon release the album became the commercial breakthrough Mustaine and Megadeth werr hoping for, eventually going double platinum.
Written by: Dangerzone
ALBUM: Countdown To Extinction
SERIAL: CDP 7 98531 2
CD REISSUE: Discogs Reissue List
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: USA
LINEUP: Dave Mustaine – vocals, guitar * Marty Friedman – guitar * Dave Ellefson – bass * Nick Menza – drums
TRACK LISTING: 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 Psycotron * 10 Captive Honour * 11 Ashes In Your Mouth
WEBLINK: Site Link
Following the platinum success of 1990’s monumental ‘Rust in Peace’, it seemed Megadeth were poised to reach the same stratosphere Metallica were perched upon, following the staggering success of their 1991 ‘Black’ album.
For Dave Mustaine however, emulating his former band meant relinquishing the technical intensity and rabid ferocity of his previous work, much in keeping with Metallica once again.
After all Metallica had totally dispensed with their thrash past and embraced a commercial direction, with shorter and catchier tracks, which incensed long-time fans, but bought in millions of new ones.
This certainly influenced Mustaine in the recording of the new album, complete with his new clean and sober persona, at odds with his former wildman image, which consisted of unhinged rants and maniacal musical compositions.
Therefore Mustaine abandoned thrash, convinced the genre had run its course, as grunge and alternative music ran rampant in the industry. The result was a stripped down version of the band, still heavy and melodic, but a portent of what was to follow in the years ahead.
‘Skin O’ My Teeth’ – Mustaine recounts a suicide bid that thankfully went awry, set to the new backdrop of medium tempos, scaled back guitar dynamics and commercial hooks. Passable track, but the first indication that things would never be the same.
‘Symphony of Destruction’ – A long time band favorite, the melody here is inescapable, certainly a made for radio type of song, which retains the heaviness in the riffs and Mustaine’s then trademark snarling vocals.
‘Architecture of Aggression’ – The heaviness of the drums and guitars are accentuated here, but the pace continues at a laborious pace. I could imagine people being rather concerned at this point back in 92.
‘Foreclosure Of A Dream’ – Mustaine laments the plight of the American farmer, forced to abandon their land because of tyrannical politicians. This was the lightest track by the band yet, the guitars not menacing at all, the melody being the key ingredient. Not a bad song, but missing so many intangibles that made the band so memorable just two years earlier.
Even in the video the band looks like middle aged punters, goatees and flannel shirts, a mere shadow of themselves and their shirtless, tight jean and bullet belt days from 1990.
‘Sweating Bullets’ – Dave dabbles with schizophrenia in this offbeat track, doing some impersonations of his diseased brains thoughts, to a relatively upbeat series of riffs, meant to simulate his disturbed multiple persona’s. I used to enjoy this track, but it fails to move me all these years later. Too forced. As if Dave is trying to say, ‘hey I’m still crazy!’
‘This Was My Life’ – Nondescript stuff here, melodically average with no riffs to recommend it. This is the beginning of the seemingly endless parade of throwaway tracks by the band.
‘Countdown To Extinction’ – Very restrained and droll, the riffs not hitting the mark for me. Even Metallica was heavier than this on the ‘Black’ album.
‘High Speed Dirt’ – This time Mustaine recounts his experiences skydiving, with a slightly faster tempo, befitting the title I assume. It’s not thrash however, but at least ups the intensity.
‘Psychotron’ – Apparently a track about some psychotic robot, this is totally unmemorable and another example of the tuneless filler Mustaine would become legendary for.
‘Captive Honor’ – Mustaine delicately tells the story of some poor individual sent to prison, where he encounters unspeakable horrors, to include jailhouse rape and the classic lyrics ‘His manpussy was sold.. this tough guy’s now a bitch, Praying for death, It can’t be worse than this.’
‘Ashes In Your Mouth’ – The closest the album gets to thrash, with some half-assed speed segments which fail to convince. It’s too watered down to really work, but the potential is there.
Upon release the album became the commercial breakthrough Mustaine and Megadeth werr hoping for, eventually going double platinum. It set the band up for the rest of their career and remains a staple of the setlist to this day.
From my perspective it’s a decent album, but not one I’ve ever obsessed over. I recall listening to it a lot decades ago, but one I barely touch now. It was just too instant, the abandoning of thrash and the ideals which came with it.
The band was a shadow of ‘Rust In Peace’ and would never get that aura back. Mustaine was on the fast track to becoming a legend, but here is where he fell off the tracks spectacularly despite the double platinum success..