MEGADETH — So Far, So Good... So What! (review)

MEGADETH — So Far, So Good... So What! album cover Album · 1988 · Thrash Metal Buy this album from MMA partners
4/5 ·
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.
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UMUR wrote:
more than 2 years ago
Not my favorite Megadeth album. I like the remixed/remastered version better than the original very thin sounding production job. The music is a bit up and Down in quality, but there are definitely a couple of great tracks on the album.
more than 2 years ago
Vim, I believe that's the case exactly. I think he just decided to tack them on at last.

siLLy puPPy, I read a lot of negative comments about this album, maybe as many as positive.

siLLy puPPy wrote:
more than 2 years ago
Great review, but this is one of my absolute least favorite Megadeth albums. It hits me wrong in practically every possible way. Glad you found more enjoyment with it than i have :)
Vim Fuego wrote:
more than 2 years ago
I thought Dave Mustaine always intended to have the horns there, but ran out of money or time or heroin or something. It's only a tiny little part of the whole album though.
more than 2 years ago
I think I was just used to hearing the music without them. They feel like an experiment to me. "Let's try to put the horns in anyway and see how they sound." I've heard much better use of brass in aggressive metal. Celtic Frost comes to mind. I still really like this album though.
Vim Fuego wrote:
more than 2 years ago
My favourite Megadeth! The remixes of the other albums did very little, but I love the remix of this. The intro to In My Darkest Hour is a lot clearer, and unlike you, I love the horns on Into the Lungs of Hell.


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