MEGADETH — So Far, So Good... So What!

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Album · 1988

Filed under Thrash Metal
By MEGADETH

Tracklist

1. Into the Lungs of Hell (3:31)
2. Set the World Afire (5:50)
3. Anarchy in the U.K. (3:02)
4. Mary Jane (4:27)
5. 502 (3:30)
6. In My Darkest Hour (6:18)
7. Liar (3:22)
8. Hook in Mouth (4:40)

Total Time: 34:44

Line-up/Musicians

- Dave Mustaine / Lead vocals, lead, rhythm & acoustic guitars
- Jeff Young / Lead, rhythm & acoustic guitars
- David Ellefson / Bass guitar & background vocals
- Chuck Behler / Drums & percussion

About this release

Label: Capitol Records
Release date: January 19th, 1988

Mastered at Precision Lacquer, Hollywood, CA.
Mixed at The Entreprise, North Hollywood, CA.
Recorded at Music Grinder, Los Angeles, CA.

"Liar" is dedicated to Chris Poland, who was fired from the band for stealing Dave Mustaine's guitars.

"In My Darkest Hour" was written in late September, 1986, after Dave heard about Cliff Burton's death.

2004 re-issue re-mixed & remastered includes 4 bonus tracks:
9) Into the Lungs of Hell (Paul Lani Mix) (3:31)
10) Set the world Afire (Paul Lani Mix) (5:52)
11) Mary Jane (Paul Lani Mix) (4:08)
12) In My Darkest Hour (Paul Lani Mix) (6:13)

The original sound version is now out of print.

Thanks to bonnek, UMUR, diamondblack for the updates

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MEGADETH SO GOOD... SO WHAT! SO FAR reviews

Specialists/collaborators reviews

martindavey87
Young, brash, and pumped full of drugs, 1988's 'So Far, So Good... So What!' saw Megadeth continue along the path they'd started upon with 1986's 'Peace Sells... But Who's Buying?". While it originally seemed like the band had cleaned up their act and become more driven and focused, the reality was that a bigger album budget just meant more money to spend on drugs and alcohol.

Unfortunately, 'So Far, So Good...' doesn't quite live up to the standards set by its predecessor. The production is arguably weaker and the writing has clearly taken a backseat to drug-taking, as, while there's a few hits here that belong on any Megadeth compilation release, the overall quality of the songs is definitely a step down than previously.

As before, the music is fast and intense, accompanying lyrics riddled with hatred and spite. Thrash metal was in full swing in 1988 and this album goes to show why Megadeth were one of the top bands of their time. Dave Mustaine's vocals are seething with bitterness and sincerity, though lack the polish that they had on 'Peace Sells'. But his signature "snarl" is in full effect, and gives the music the rawness it needs.

One notable significance of this release is that we see the first of many (and I mean many) major line-up changes. With guitarist Jeff Young and drummer Chuck Behler replacing Chris Poland and Gar Samuelson respectively. Both would be ejected from the band soon enough, with neither man having any particular impact.

While songs like 'In My Darkest Hour', 'Hook in Mouth', 'Set the World Afire' and a cover of the Sex Pistols classic 'Anarchy in the U.K.' prevent this album from being a complete loss, as a whole it just seems like a pretty passable release, especially when compared to the bulk of the bands later releases.
Warthur
It's not that So Far, So Good... So What! is a bad album through and through - Into the Lungs of Hell, for instance, is one of the best thrash metal instrumentals out there. It's just that when it's bad, it well and truly shits the bed. The botched cover version of the Sex Pistols' Anarchy In the UK, in particular, is such a toe-curlingly cringeworthy moment that it largely ruins the first side for me - it doesn't help that Set the World Afire is a bit overlong. The second side makes up for lost ground to some extent, but overall the album is a bit of a huge mess, the product of lineup instabilities and out-of-control behaviour which meant that whilst there are some good songs on here, it simply can't hold a handle either to the two preceding albums or to the upcoming masterpiece of Rust In Peace.
voila_la_scorie
I remember this being my first purchase of 1988. The cassette was in stores in January and though the date on the back said 1988, I couldn’t help but think that the music had been recorded in 1987. I loved the first three tracks on “Peace Sells” and was looking for more of the same. Though I did not find what I had hoped for, this album was in a way better because with “Peace Sells” I rarely felt like listening to anything after the first three tracks but “So Far, So Good… So What” I liked well enough for all the songs except “Mary Jane”. I later replaced my cassette with a CD, which remained for many years in a box until recently when I dug it out and put it in my iTunes library. In the meantime, I had acquired at last “Countdown to Extinction” and had ordered the remixed/remastered editions of “Peace Sells” and “Rust in Peace”, the latter being an album that failed to impress me back in the day and had finally been sold off to a second hand CD store some years ago. In eager anticipation of a large Megadeth moment coming on soon, I listened to “So Far, So Good” and thought that the sound was not so good. I ordered the remixed/remastered version of that album too.

This is a short album. I thought so back in 1988 and I still think so, though this new issue has four bonus tracks, early recorded versions of four of the songs when Paul Lani was still the producer. It begins with the instrumental “Into the Lungs of Hell”, which I always enjoyed. The great lead guitar melody does threaten to start sounding repetitive but is saved by the building tension in the music. I was shocked to hear on the remixed version the addition of horns in one part. This was not how I remembered the song! I had already put the original CD in a bag to take to the second hand CD store but now I have decided to keep it. The horns have spoiled that part of the music for me.

“Set the World Afire” still sounds good and the CD liner notes explain how this was the first song Dave Mustaine wrote after his departure from Metallica, though it was not to appear on disc until the third album. It’s a fast, aggressive tune that show cases Mustaine’s sneering and growling vocal style.

The cover of “Anarchy in the U.K.” I always liked but the surprise for me was listening to “Mary Jane”. The music is actually much more enjoyable in parts that I recalled and the construction of the song seeming rather progressive. But on the remix I was more put off than amused at first when I heard Mustaine’s goofy monkey insanity hoot and tee-hee-hee laughter. I don’t think that was part of the original, was it? I’ve grown accustomed to it now but it still sounds goofy.

I’ve always enjoyed the second side of the album more. “502”, “In My Darkest Hour”, “Liar” and “Hook in Mouth” I can listen to straight through and feel good. The middle part of “Liar” where Mustaine is just shooting out the lyrics with his snarling, spitting vocal style would be classic if everyone else thought so. “Hook in Mouth” was often my choice for mixed tapes partly because “Set the World Afire” segued from the fading guitar of “Into the Lings of Hell” before (there is a clean break on the remixed/remastered version) and partly because “Hook in Mouth” had enough of the Megadeth trademarks: heavy guitar, aggression, and Dave’s unique way of painting a scene with his vocal approach.

While recently reading reviews and comments about the remixed/remastered albums, I found that some people were not especially fond of this album but I quite like it mostly. I would have preferred a song or two more and maybe a few more outstanding riffs like in “Wake Up Dead” and “The Conjuring” but overall I think this is a pretty good effort considering all the trouble and hassle that was going on at the time (changing producers, substance abuse, pressure to follow up the successful sophomore album, etc.). I’m comfortable with a four-star rating.
Vim Fuego
‘Rust In Peace’ is usually hailed as Megadeth’s crowning glory, but there are still a fair number of thrash fans who prefer the album’s heavier predecessor ‘So Far, So Good...So What!’.

‘So Far, So Good...So What!’ saw Megadeth as a band at its most dangerous. Dave Mustaine was hitting the heroin and the booze like they were going out of business. Half the band had been sacked, and the producer replaced. Capitol Records were becoming concerned about the behaviour of the band, and sent them on tour so they couldn’t do any more damage in the studio. They need not have worried, as ‘So Far, So Good...So What!’ rapidly went platinum on its release.

Despite the obvious success of the album, Dave Mustaine had always been dissatisfied with the way ‘So Far, So Good...So What!’ turned out, so he went into the studio in 2004 and remixed it, along with much of the rest of Megadeth’s back catalogue. He disliked the sometimes muddy mix, which detracted somewhat from the power of the album. There were also a few small details either hidden or missing from the album. The remixing is like an archaeologist scraping dirt and dust from a prehistoric skeleton. It was always obvious what was there, but once the detritus is cleared, sharp, clean edges are revealed, details unveiled, and it all seems more complete.

The instrumental first track “Into The Lungs Of Hell” is one of the best leadoff tracks on any thrash album anywhere, bettered by Slayer’s “Angel Of Death”, but not by much else. Thrash instrumentals are generally about lead guitarists showing off, and in Mustaine and Jeff Young, Megadeth had talent aplenty to display. The lead guitar throughout the song is sharp, bouncing from one man to the other in what sounds like a frantic guitar duel. There is an undefinable quality to the song, giving it a feel like a reinterpreted classical composition. The remix added a triumphal brass fanfare to the beginning of the song which was absent on the 1988 release. To be honest, the horns don’t add a hell of a lot to the guitar-fuelled maelstrom, but they made MegaDave happy.

“Set The World Afire” was the first song Mustaine wrote on his departure from Metallica, but he did not use it until he was happy with it. The first riff sounds like it would have fitted onto ‘Kill ‘Em All’ quite neatly, but the rest of the song shows Mustaine’s songwriting metamorphosing and developing. The lyrics are suitably cheesy, a song about nuclear war, which it was just about compulsory for every 1980s thrash band to have at least one of (Metallica’s “Fight Fire With Fire”, Kreator’s “Fatal Energy”, Carnivore’s “World Wars III and IV”, Sodom’s “Nuclear Winter”, Nuclear Assault’s ‘Game Over’ album etc.).

The cover of the Sex Pistols’ “Anarchy In The UK” actually features Steve Jones from the Pistols on guitar, but apparently he played so poorly that his guitar work was deliberately buried deep in the mix. Legend has it he turned up drunk, plugged his guitar in and just started playing, without tuning his guitar. Inexplicably, Mustaine messed with the lyrics, swapping the line “I want to destroy the passer by” with “I want to destroy, possibly”, along with a couple of other minor alterations.

“In My Darkest Hour” is far and away the best song on the album, and the remixing adds another layer of vindictive menace to it. Mustaine wrote the lyrics of the song in a single sitting on hearing the news that friend and former Metallica band mate Cliff Burton had been killed. It is his best lyrical effort, bar none. The song uses a building narrative structure with no verses or chorus to detract from the momentum. The rhythm guitar follows a series of relatively simple riffs which swell to an almighty crescendo. The leads hold a certain angle grinder type quality, which only appear on this album.

“Liar” and “Hook In Mouth” follow a similar venomous lyrical streak, which unfortunately Mustaine abandoned after this album in favour of conspiracies, aliens and witches. Oh well... The solos on “Hook In Mouth” in particular are impressive as Mustaine and Jeff Young trade licks perfect for air guitar aficionados to imitate. Surprisingly, Young’s solos are the heavier of the two.

The weaker tracks “Mary Jane” and “502” and the inclusion of the Sex Pistols cover pad the album out somewhat. None of them are particularly poor songs, but they seem to have been written and recorded like the band was on autopilot. Still, Megadeth circa 1988 on autopilot was still a hell of a lot better than a lot of shit being palmed off on metal fans at the time.

As a bonus, four of the tracks originally mixed by producer Paul Lani have been included on the album. Lani struggled in producing the record, not understanding Megadeth or thrash metal, and was eventually replaced by Michael Wagener, who was responsible for the final 1988 production job. Even to the untrained ear, a number of problems are immediately obvious. All four songs sound very thin, even compared to the 1988 release. “Into The Lungs Of Hell” still has the horns of the introduction left in the mix, but throughout the song, the guitar lines drift in and out, like they were recorded outside on a windy day. Even a song as powerful as “In My Darkest Hour” sounds flat and a bit gutless.

The original mix of ‘So Far, So Good...So What!’ suffered somewhat because of limitations on time, budget, technology, and probably substance impaired musical abilities, but it was the best that could be done at the time. Metal production in 1988 was far from the refined science it is now, and the leap in the power and scope of technology between 1988 and 2004 is enormous. ‘So Far, So Good...So What!’ was hailed as a flawed masterpiece on its original release, and has rightly remained a much admired work from a highly influential band.
siLLy puPPy
They should have changed their name to MEGAMESS for this one. And the album should have been titled SO LAME, SO BAD… SO FUCKED! Nothing works on this for me. Where do I even begin? Well, the production? Horrible! Songwriting? Crap. Song order. Why start with an instrumental? It seems like someone just threw these together in a totally random fashion. I generally like their covers but “Anarchy In The UK” is just so cliché and I can't stand it here. Musicanship. Sorry but Jeff Young is not ready for prime time on this release. He just can't handle the duties as a lead guitarist of a late 80s thrash band. Despite this taking over 5 months to record with a major label budget it just fails to deliver in virtually every department for me. Being surrounded by two of the best albums that metal music has to offer only makes this seem even limper. They can change the title of the album too. “Look At How Much We Suck” would suit me fine. On a positive note I actually like the track “In My Darkest Hour” which probably refers to Mustaine's consistent drug use which led to this MEGAMESS. I’m a fairly tolerant listener and this one rubs me wrong in just about every way.
Stooge
Among the classic Megadeth albums that spanned the first decade of their recording career (1985-94), this one sometimes gets lost in the shuffle. I’m sure part of that has to do with one of their least stable lineups, with Jeff Young and Chuck Behler now on lead guitar and drums respectively. While not quite the players that Chris Poland and Gar Samuelsson were, the new duo certainly holds their own on their lone Megadeth studio album.

The version I own is the 2004 re-issue, when Mustaine felt the need to tweak with the whole Megadeth catalog. Though I haven't heard the original version in years, I think this version sounds nice. From what I can remember, two of the most notable changes were increasing the volume of horns in the intro of "Into The Lungs Of Hell", and he also added an extended guitar intro for "In My Darkest Hour".

This album starts incredibly with the pair of "Into The Lungs Of Hell" and "Set The World Afire". What energy!! "Into The Lungs Of Hell" is a no-nonsese, let 'er rip-style of instrumental. Spacious riffing pushes the focus on some high-octane leads. Contrasting with that approach, "Set The World Afire" contains some of the coolest riffs in the Megadeth discography. I think it might have been the first song Mustaine wrote for Megadeth, and thankfully it made the cut for this album after being omitted twice. Closing tracks "Liar" and "Hook In Mouth" bring similar levels of aggression, especially in Mustaine's vocal performances ("Liar" being inspired by troubles with ex-bandmate Poland).

With the third cover song in as many albums, Megadeth opt for a more practical choice with the Sex Pistols' "Anarchy In The U.K.". It's very loyal to the original aside from some allowable deviations (swapping U.S.A. for U.K. being one). Sex Pistols' Steve Jones even guests on the track.

I’d say the main difference between this album and Peace Sells is that there is a slight tradeoff in technicality in favor of more melody. "Mary Jane", "502", and "In My Darkest Hour", which may be some of the most melodic songs Mustaine had penned at the time, are good examples of this. Each one is fairly accessible despite still very-much being rooted in thrash. Mustaine sings throughout most of these tunes (as opposed to his normal growl), and does a solid job too.

Excellent thrash album well worth picking up!
UMUR
"So Far, So Good... So What!" is the 3rd full-length studio album by US thrash metal act Megadeth. The album was released in January 1988 by Capitol Records. After the 2004 re-issue which feature a remixed and remastered version of the album and some alternative mixes of a couple of tracks, the original sound version has been out of print.

...and good riddance to that! The original sound version is probably the main reason why I have always considered "So Far, So Good... So What!" a relatively weak Megadeth album. I have both the original sound version and the remixed and remastered version and it´s like listening to two completely different albums. This is a case where a remix and remaster of an album was badly needed. "So Far, So Good... So What!" still doesn´t feature the most exciting sound production, but now it´s actually enjoyable to a certain extent.

The music on the album is thrash metal with the trademark melodic edge that has always been a part of Megadeth´s sound. Dave Mustaine´s caustic "fuck you" snarl has never sounded more biting. He sounds positively pissed off on tracks like "Liar" and "Hook in Mouth". The album is a bit of an inconsistent affair though. I like tracks like the above mentioned "Liar" and "Hook in Mouth", "502" and of course one of the ultimate Megadeth "classics" "In My Darkest Hour". All 4 tracks are on Side 2 of the original vinyl version of the album. The 4 tracks on Side 1 of the original vinyl version are not as strong though and especially the Sex Pistols cover "Anarchy in the U.K." is an odd and flow destroying inclusion IMO. We´re not talking any bad tracks here I just prefer the 4 last tracks on the album to the first 4.

A good deal of lineup changes has occured since "Peace Sells... But Who's Buying? (1986)" As guitarist Chris Poland has been replaced by Jeff Young and drummer Gar Samuelson has been replaced by Chuck Behler. Both replacements are sub par to the quality of the two musicians they replaced IMO. Especially Chuck Behler´s uninventive and stiff drumming style scars some sections of the songs. I guess Jeff Young is allright but compared to Chris Poland´s more unique style, his playing is more ordinary.

"So Far, So Good... So What!" isn´t exactly the follow-up one could have hoped for after the very promising, and in many people´s eyes "classic" thrash metal album "Peace Sells... But Who's Buying? (1986)". I´d call it a good yet inconsistent album by the band that I enjoy on occasion. A 3.5 star rating is deserved.
bonnek
1988 and Megadeth is down to Dave Mustaine and David Ellefson. There two other names on the credits but it's hard to tell if they were in the band for longer then the album's 35 minute's duration. Sure is they're contribution is minimal and hardly noteworthy.

The line-up is not problematic on this release but going by the sheer quality of the material this could have been an album of the same allure as the ones surrounding it. In its eventual state it isn't, and certainly not in its original 1988 Capitol release, which was the worst sounding Megadeth album ever (debut excepted of course). Luckily, the 2004 remix/remaster managed to reveal the qualities of the album and my appreciation of it has grown considerably since. I don't care much for the Sex Pistols cover (the original will do thanks) and "502" sounds a bit Megadeth by the numbers, lacking the hooks of the "Peace Sells" material. The rest of the songs are excellent, the last three even brilliant and rating amongst my favorite Megadeth tunes.

A somewhat underappreciated album, which is partially justifiable, but if you haven't heard the 2004 remaster yet you might give it another chance.
The Angry Scotsman
Underrated Album.

This album seems to have a bad rep, and was actually why I avoided it for sometime, and eventually forgot about its existence. It's a shame I didn't try it sooner, as this is a very good album.

There is another lineup change for this album. Jeff Poland and Gar Samuelson were kicked out of the band prior to this album for their excessive drug use, (this is coming from Dave!) and replaced by Jeff Young and Chuck Behler, (Gar's roadie). While not big names, they are very capable players and Young wrote all of his own solo's for the album.

The album starts with an instrumental, "Into the Lungs of Hell" which is a blazing and brilliant song. The album is a standard Megadeth production with great riffing, songwriting, unusual song structures, blazing solos and emotional lyrics about politics, bad love life, drugs, his personal relationships and a general shady past. Once again, each song is unique and interesting.

Unfortunately, this time some parts sound a little unnecessary and the album just has a bit of a strange feel. Perhaps this is due to the quickly assembled lineup not really gelling, or a bit to a good but odd production. Regardless, this is a great album. There is no bad song, though some parts do feel wrong.

There is another cover on this album, this time the famous "Anarchy in the UK", by the Sex Pistols, even featuring guitarist Steve Jones on the song. It is an intriguing metal cover and with changed lyrics Mustaine, some on purpose and some due to his inability to understand the lyrics in the original song!

502 is a fast and wild song, quite reflective of the lyrics about driving recklessly.

In My Darkest Hour is a slower, melancholic song inspired by Cliff Burton's death, and written more personally about Mustaine's failed relationship. Well, slower until it really kicks in! Very cool song.

Liar is an angry, angry song dedicated to Chris Poland while the album closes with Hook in Mouth which is a scathing attack on censorship and specifically the PMRC and has some wicked music.

While no masterpiece and suffers a bit from band instability, this is a great album.

Four Stars

Members reviews

metalmillennium
Many claim this to be the worst Megadeth recording thus far. The band at this point were abusing drugs and alcohol to the limit and Dave had tried to take his own life away. There's yet again a revolving door line-up which shows Dave may have been undecided in the direction Megadeth were heading. Jeff Young replaces the amazing guitar virtuoso Chris Poland and Chuck Behler replaces the late Gar Samuelson on drums. The chemistry is still not completely there, as Young and Behler will both be fired after this album with better replacements on the way.

"Into the Lungs of Hell" is a damn fine instrumental that showcases some of Mustaine's best set of riffs to date. "Set the World Afire" has a crushingly heavy dual-guitar intro that is one of the album's top highlights. The Sex Pistols cover "Anarchy in the U.K." is better left unlistened to unless you're a punk fan, perhaps. "Into My Darkest Hour," personal top highlight, is a mature, gloomy song about the late Metallica bassist who lost his life during a bus accident on the road in Europe.The addicting rhythm chops of "Liar" flow in an Exodus-like fashion, upping the fun factor quite a bit. Finally, "Hook in Mouth" closes the album out with an interesting view on censorship.

Don't let the bad press/media releases get to you, this is still a great release. Aside from the poor drumming and production, this is still an under-rated Megadeth gem.

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