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MEGADETH - Countdown to Extinction cover
4.06 | 128 ratings | 7 reviews
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Album · 1992

Filed under Thrash Metal


1. Skin o' My Teeth (3:14)
2. Symphony of Destruction (4:02)
3. Architecture of Aggression (3:34)
4. Foreclosure of a Dream (4:17)
5. Sweating Bullets (5:03)
6. This Was My Life (3:42)
7. Countdown to Extinction (4:16)
8. High Speed Dirt (4:12)
9. Psychotron (4:42)
10. Captive Honour (4:14)
11. Ashes in Your Mouth (6:11)

Total Time: 47:31


- Dave Mustaine / Guitar, Vocals
- Marty Friedman / Guitar, Backing Vocals
- Dave Ellefson / Bass, Backing Vocals
- Nick Menza / Drums, Backing Vocals

About this release

Release date: July 6th, 1992
Label: Capitol Records

Produced by Dave Mustaine and Max Norman.
Engineered and mixed by Max Norman.
Art direction and design: Hugh Syme.
Photography: Chris Cufarro, Cameron Wong.
Recorded at THE ENTERPRISE Studio, Burbank, CA during January 6 - April 28, 1992.

Japanese release includes 2 bonus tracks, "Go to Hell" (04:35) and "Breakpoint" (03:28).

The remixed & remastered 2004 version contains the following bonus tracks:
12) Crown of Worms (03:17)
13) Countdown to Extinction (Demo) (03:55)
14) Symphony of Destruction (Demo) (05:29)
15) Psychotron (Demo) (05:28)

The 2004 remixed and remastered version was also released as an Ultradisc II 24 karat gold disc by Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab.

Original sound version now out of print.

Thanks to The Angry Scotsman, UMUR, diamondblack, Unitron for the updates


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Specialists/collaborators reviews

"Countdown to Extinction" is the 5th full-length studio album by US thrash/heavy metal act Megadeth. The album was released through Capitol Records in July 1992. It´s the successor to "Rust in Peace" from 1990, which was an album, which received a lot of critical acclaim. While the material on "Rust in Peace (1990)" were primarily written by lead vocalist/guitarist Dave Mustaine, "Countdown to Extinction" features more contributions from the rest of the band and it´s obvious the lineup of Dave Mustaine (vocals, guitars), Dave Ellefson (bass), Nick Menza (drums), and Marty Friedman (guitars) had now settled a bit more into the role of a permanent band. "Countdown to Extinction" went on to become Megadeth´s most commercially successful album, selling more than 2 million copies (US double platinum status).

Stylistically the material on the 11 track, 47:31 minutes long album is generally less thrash metal oriented and not as fast-paced as the material on its predecessor. There are quite a few more traditional heavy metal elements and more focus on melody on "Countdown to Extinction" than the case was on "Rust in Peace (1990)". When that is said Megadeth were never the most savage thrash metal act on the scene, and all preceding releases also feature a healthy dose of tradtional heavy metal elements and focus on melody. This time around it all just sounds a bit more planned and structured, which means the tracks are generally instantly accessible and catchy. That doesn´t mean this is simple music by any means. The songwriting is very sophisticated, and there are many intriguing compositional details featured throughout the album. The lyrics are also quite interesting, dealing with topics like politics, environmental/social issues, and consequences of crime/punishment.

The musicianship are on a high level on all posts. Mustaine´s voice and singing style will always be an aquired taste, but he arguably provides the band´s music with something unique. He has audibly honed his skills on this release, and he now "sings" more than ever. The rhythm section play organic and sharp, the riffs are powerful and delivered with skill and precision, and the lead guitar work is stunning.

One of the greatest assets of "Countdown to Extinction" is that each and every track featured on the album stand out, and while tracks like "Skin o' My Teeth", "High Speed Dirt", and especially the iconic "Symphony of Destruction" are probably some of the most known tracks off the album, all tracks are highlights worth a mention. You honestly can´t say that about that many album releases. While every track is unmistakably the sound of Megadeth, there is also great stylistic diversity between the tracks. Some are relatively fast-paced and energetic like "Skin o' My Teeth", "High Speed Dirt", and "Ashes in Your Mouth", some are mid-paced and heavy like "Symphony of Destruction" and "Architecture of Aggression", some feature great focus on melody like "Foreclosure of a Dream", "This Was My Life" and the title track, and some feature twisted humour and a different take on thrash/heavy metal like "Sweating Bullets" and "Psychotron".

"Countdown to Extinction" is produced by Dave Mustaine and Max Norman and the album features a clear, detailed, and powerful sound, which suits the material perfectly. So upon conclusion "Countdown to Extinction" is another high quality release by Megadeth. They already left a bit of their frenetic fast-paced thrash metal sound behind on "Rust in Peace (1990)", but "Countdown to Extinction" is an even less thrash metal oriented release. At least in the respect that it´s a much heavier and only occasionally fast-paced album. Megadeth haven´t however lost any of their appeal here, and although "Countdown to Extinction" overall was the most mature and sophisticated release by the band up until then, there is still plenty of aggression and heavy riffs featured on the album to satisfy most thrash metal fans. A 5 star (100%) rating is deserved.
Countdown to Extinction was the closest Megadeth got to mainstream success on the level of Metallica, and I've seen this called their Black Album before. A fair comparison I'd say, as both albums have that balance between thrash and regular heavy metal. Thankfully though Countdown to Extinction doesn't have the overplayed singles like Black Album does, making for a fantastic listen throughout.

Sweating Bullets is the most Mustaine song Mustaine ever wrote, Symphony of Destruction and Skin 'O My Teeth are classics. Songs like Foreclosure of a Dream and the title track are great examples of the more melodic side of the band that they would explore more down the line. Finally, Ashes in Your Mouth is one of the band's best deeper cuts, and one of their best songs in general. Total classic album.
Hot off the heels of one of thrash metals most revered albums, 1990's 'Rust in Peace', Megadeth slowly started to inch away from the subgenre that they helped to establish, and adapted a more stripped-down radio-friendly approach to their sound. Whether it was a step to ensure their survival amidst shifting musical trends, the next logical progression in the bands own evolution, or a shameless parallel to Dave Mustaine's former bandmates in Metallica, it was a change that ensured that Megadeth would remain one of the prominent names in heavy metal.

Changes aside, this is still instantly recognisable Megadeth, with Dave Mustaine's familiarly distinctive vocals, Marty Friedman's sleek and exotic guitar solos and the solid rhythm work of bassist David Ellefson and drummer Nick Menza. The compositions may have slowed down a notch in favour of more coherent songwriting and more traditional arrangements, but it still sounds like Megadeth through and through.

The only problem is that the songs themselves are not overly memorable.

Sure, there's some absolute Megadeth classics here, such as 'Skin o' My Teeth', 'Symphony of Destruction', 'Sweating Bullets' and 'Foreclosure of a Dream', and there's some underrated hidden gems such as 'Psychotron' and the title track, but there's also some fairly blatant filler material. Songs like 'High Speed Dirt', 'This Was My Life' and a few others do absolutely nothing for me.

'Countdown to Extinction' is regarded as a classic, and in fairness, despite my opinion of it, I won't argue the case. But for me, it's nothing more than a good album. It's got some Megadeth highlights, but its abundance of lacklustre material makes it tough for me to choose this over some of the bands other releases.
Oh, do I have fond memories of this one. This was, for me, the quintessential "album I did not want my mother to know I had." I have fond memories of blasting this one on the stereo system while my parents were gone, and practicing my air guitar and growly vocals. There really is not a weak track on this album, but every one seems to characterize what this band, and even really what Metal in this time period, was all about. Another thing I love about this album, and this could merely be a result of the sheer number of times I've listened to it, is the fact that it flows well: each track follows the previous very well, almost like they were part of a single composition. Obviously the track order was planned very well. The dueling guitar solos appear all throughout this album, the tunes are fantastic, and Dave Mustaine's growls, as always, are so unique and characteristic of the darkness of this Metal masterpiece. As I often do, I would like to highlight some of my favorite tracks on this album:

Symhony of Desctruction - of course, the importance of this song is undeniable, being one of the most well known Metal tunes of all time. The ONLY weakness of this track is the countless number of times I've heard it by now. [;)]]

This Was My Life - this song makes you angry with the band. It is filled with this simmering rage, the kind of rage that only comes out in under the breath mutters the party you are mad at can't hear, and in screams behind their back. You will be pounding your fist in the air with the chant at the end: "THIS....WAS....MY....LIFE!!!!"

Captive Honour - this has long been one of my all time favorite songs by Megadeth. It's almost like a Prog epic, in terms of song structure, the music telling a story along with the lyrics of a man committing a crime, being sentenced to jail, and the hell he endures there. The guitar solos near the end are among my all-time favorite metal guitar solos.

I've always considered myself more of a Metallica fan than a Megadeth fan (ducks)...but I will say that I have probably listened to this particular Megadeth album more than any Metallica album. This is absolutely a necessary piece of any Metal connoisseur's collection.
I hate to do a comparison to Metallica, but I consider Countdown To Extinction to be their personal Black Album. While Dave Mustaine often dislikes comparisons to his old band, I don’t think he’d mind if I give him the upper hand with this one.

This album is filled with several accessible tracks, with perhaps “Symphony of Destruction” being the most radio friendly. We are also treated to “Sweating Bullets”, featuring a great melodic intro, which is driven by Nick Menza’s thundering drums, and one of Megadeth’s most recognizable verses, starting from the popular “Hello me… Meet the real me” line. The songs “Foreclosure of a Dream” and “Countdown To Extinction” also rank up there in terms of radio-friendliness.

While Countdown is quite an accessible album, it is still done on Mustaine’s terms. Most of the songs wouldn’t be confused with something you’d find on Peace Sells or even Rust In Peace, but they stay faithful to the Megadeth sound. Tracks such as “High Speed Dirt”, and “Skin O’ My Teeth”, which is my favorite song on the album, pretty much follow the familiar thrash metal sound, as does “Architecture of Aggression” to a lesser extent.

This album is not without it’s weaker tracks. “Psychotron”, “Captive Honor”, and “This Was My Life” don’t do much for me.

A good album, Just not quite as good as some of their previous efforts.
Looking at the cover of the album portraying an elevated old man inside a prison cell will probably left you wondering where's their Vic Rattlehead trademark mascot. I suspect its disappearance perhaps have something to do with the fact that Megadeth decided to move away from their thrash platform to incorporate a commercial plant of hard rock and heavy metal, therefore it acted like a silent scream to the fans that please beware of a change in sound. The intention of capturing a wider audience apparently fruitful, spawning four successful videos, nominated for Grammy Awards, and nailed 2 platinums of sales.

I can assure you that despite their departure of early roots, Megadeth still has some astonishing moments with their signature thrashy riffs and immortalized many tracks as classic that almost always included in their giglist such as the suicidal-attempt of "Skin o' My Teeth" that's simply became the best song of the entire album, the addictive chugging hooks of "Symphony of Destruction" that's later covered by Nightwish and Arch Enemy, the circuslike funny riffs with the typical grumpy granny's voice of Mustaine in schizophrenic-based "Sweating Bullets", or the simple but effective "High Speed Dirt". However, the inconsistency of the songwriting is dragging the points down, displayed in the bad hard rock single "Foreclosure of a Dream", or the weird roborock "Psychotron", and the worst-of-it-all-award bestowed on "Captive Honor".

To me, "Countdown to Extinction" is a pleasing album, one of a few that I always spin once in a while for the last 10 years, and I think that "Countdown" is incomparable to "Rust" as each of it has its own sparkling moment but one thing for sure is "Countdown" is a mighty heir to the throne of "Rust" and an obligatory record to buy for all metal fans.

Members reviews

It sure feels great to finally be able to review "Countdown To Extinction"!

Although I by no means consider myself a Megadeth fan I still have managed to hear most of their career highlights over the years. Surprisingly enough "Countdown To Extinction" is the one album I tend to revisit on regular basis and probably will continue doing so just for its fun factor.

The album kicks off with the raw force of "Skin O' My Teeth". It's probably not the best album opener that Dave Mustaine has delivered over the years but it does show that the material of the album is going in a whole different direction than the extreme Thrash Metal sound that Megadeth are famous for.

"Symphony Of Destruction" is probably the most well recognized composition out of the bunch, although the title-track does come close in that department. It's just a true Metal classic which has to be known by all fans of the genre and, if you are in a band, then I definitely recommend playing it in a band setting because it always lightens the mood after a tough day of jamming.

"Foreclosure Of A Dream" and "Sweating Bullets" returns the music to the setting that "Skin O' My Teeth" was trying to establish by, once again, offering us a light version of the Thrash Metal that we're so used to by now. "This Was My Life" goes even further with this whole concept by showing some of Mustaine's most melodic vocals to date on the chorus sections.

Still it's that famous title-track that I think shows the best performance for the whole band and it almost makes me imagine how this whole direction could have evolved if the Megadeth chose to proceed with this style on the next albums. The lyrics might be considered slightly cheesy but isn't that what Mustaine was aiming for here? I'm not even going to touch on the lyrical themes of "Psychotron"! My personal favorite performance comes right towards the end of the album with "Ashes In Your Mouth" since this track doesn't waste any time by laying down the most memorable intro section out of all these compositions. On top of that the middle section of this song is also pretty brain shattering which I guess comes with the territory.

"Countdown To Extinction" is some of the best brainless fun I've had while listening to a record! Seriously this album is really enjoyable even if you're not a fan of Metal music.

**** star songs: Skin O' My Teeth (3:14) Symphony Of Destruction (4:02) Foreclosure Of A Dream (4:17) Sweating Bullets (5:26) This Was My Life (3:42) Countdown To Extinction (4:16) High Speed Dirt (4:21) Psychotron (4:42) Captive Honour (4:14) Ashes In Your Mouth (6:10)

*** star songs: Architecture Of Aggression (3:34)

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