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Classic Review: Megadeth - Countdown to Extinction
Countdown to Extinction

Label: Capitol Records
Year released: 1992
Duration: 47:34
Tracks: 11
Genre: Thrash Metal

Rating: 4.5/5

Review online: May 5, 2003
Reviewed by: Bahamut 502
Readers Rating
Countdown to Extinction

Rated 4.08/5 (81.64%) (73 Votes)

Countdown to Extinction, quite possibly Megadeth’s most analyzed work, isn’t as relentless as Rust in Peace, but is still much more aggressive and far less accessible as its successor, Youthanasia. Countdown represents Megadeth at the peak of its popularity and success, but the album is still regarded as legitimate hard-hitting, thrash material. The noticeable move toward accessibility is clearly a reaction to Metallica’s infamous black album, which opened the floodgates for the popularity of thrash metal in 1991 and drove Megadeth founder Dave Mustaine even further into raging envy. But whereas Metallica sounds tired and scripted, Countdown to Extinction stands as the blueprint for mainstream metal. Most of Countdown lacks the intricate complex riffing and blistering speed of previous Megadeth albums and relies more on heavy mid-tempo grooves, catchy melodies and pinpoint production. But the heaviness is still there; it’s just more streamlined and direct.

Some of Megadeth’s most popular and well-known songs can be found here, like "Skin O’ My Teeth," "Symphony of Destruction," and "Sweating Bullets," and the album closes with one of Megadeth’s most revered classics, the blistering virtuoso "Ashes in Your Mouth." Countdown also represents some of Megadeth’s most socially-conscious work, as the lyrics focus on ruthless heads of state, schizophrenia , endangered species, and, once again, the horrors of war.

Generally considered Megadeth’s last "classic" album, the transitional Countdown represents the 1-2 year period when Mustaine finally eclipsed is former band and Megadeth reached the pinnacle of its popularity and critical acclaim. Perhaps the only thing that keeps Countdown from reaching masterpiece status is a subtle foreshadowing of the continuing trend toward commercial accessibility that is manifested on 1994’s Youthanasia.

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