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Countdown to Extinction (Remastered)

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Album Review

The remixed and remastered Megadeth albums released in 2004 aren't your typical cash-ins. They're stark improvements over the originals: group leader Dave Mustaine did the remixing and remastering himself, making especially significant revisions to the earlier albums, and he includes insightful liner notes for each reissue, including track-by-track commentary for the bonus tracks, as well as lyrics and period photos. The reissue of Countdown to Extinction, like those of the albums that postdate it, isn't all that different from its original incarnation. Megadeth was a big-budget band by this point and afforded itself top-shelf production. So, unlike the band's earlier albums from the '80s, there's not too much to improve upon with Countdown to Extinction. Even so, Mustaine does slightly improve upon the album's already glossy sheen, especially bringing his vocals to the fore (think "Sweating Bullets") and giving the bottom end a little more oomph. Of course, the sheen of Countdown to Extinction has always been a thorny issue with some longtime fans, and this further polishing isn't likely to remedy those too-slick criticisms that have increasingly dogged this album with the passing of time. To go back to 1992 for a moment, you should remember that the almost chart-topping Countdown to Extinction was a major turning point for Megadeth as well as for the thrash metal movement they'd helped lead throughout the late '80s. For a thrash metal band to debut at number two on the Billboard album chart (a slim notch below Billy Ray "Achy Breaky Heart" Cyrus' Some Gave All) would have been unimaginable a few years earlier, when Megadeth and their thrash ilk were on the cutting edge of the metal underground — firmly antithetical to pop-metal chart-toppers like Poison and Mötley Crüe. So it's curious to ponder what the hell happened in a few years' time. Such a chart-topping position (Mustaine writes in the liner notes that he was "pissed" upon learning of his number two debut — because he'd "wanted number one") was as much a result of Megadeth's growing acceptance among the metal community at large as it was the band's more mannered songwriting (much in the spirit of Metallica's mannered songwriting on their 1991 self-titled, black album — make of that what you will). For instance, the speed is toned down here — significantly! — the singing is quite melodic, and the songwriting is very lyrical, all of this well illustrated on the pair of heavily rotated MTV favorites: "Symphony of Destruction" and "Sweating Bullets." Given how little the remix of this album differs from its original mix, the bonus tracks should be the primary draw: an okay Diamond Head tribute of sorts titled "Crown of Worms" and a trio of demos, most notably an interesting version of "Symphony of Destruction" that resembles the live version recorded for the Rude Awakening, Rovi

Customer Reviews

Megadeth!

On of their best by far

Must have thrash metal album

This should be among iTunes' 'essential metal albums' collection.

Great album but remastered is inferior to original

Classic album that should not have been remastered. The original deserves 5 stars, but not this remastered version with different vocal tracks and a massacred lead guitar tone on some tracks (due to the remaster).

Biography

Formed: 1983 in Los Angeles, CA

Genre: Metal

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

After he left Metallica in 1983, guitarist/vocalist Dave Mustaine formed the thrash metal quartet Megadeth. Though Megadeth followed the basic blueprint of Metallica's relentless attack, Mustaine's group distinguished themselves from his earlier band by lessening the progressive rock influences, adding an emphasis on instrumental skills, speeding up the tempo slightly, and making the instrumental attack harsher. By streamlining the classic thrash metal approach and making the music more threatening,...
Full bio