Megadeth – Countdown to Extinction (1992)

Countdown to Extinction, the fifth studio album by American heavy metal band Megadeth, released on July 14, 1992, changed my perception of the band. Before this album was released, I considered Megadeth to be the little brother of Metallica, trying to catch up with the already legendary Bay Area thrashers. But due to what I consider intellectual metal riffs, Countdown to Extinction falls into the category “masterpieces of 90s heavy metal”.

I remember being a young teenager spending the summer of 1992 in Italy, when I suddenly discovered a cassette – do you remember those tape things? – with a Megadeth cover which I didn’t know, at a local outdoor marketplace. We didn’t have Internet and social media telling us instantly when a new album hit the shelves back then. Therefore, I wasn’t aware that a new Megadeth album just came out. First, I thought it was a bootleg, but then I realized it was that new Megadeth album I had read about in an older Metal Hammer magazine.

Countdown to Extinction became the soundtrack of my summer ’92. Especially, songs like Symphony of Destruction and Sweating Bullets became Heavy Metal anthems for me, and to this day, Countdown to Extinction is one of my favorite metal albums, playing on replay when I’m in the office or on the road. My favorite songs on the album are:

Track 2: “Symphony of Destruction”
Track 4: “Foreclosure of a Dream”
Track 5: “Sweating Bullets”
Track 7: “Countdown to Extinction”
Track 8: “High Speed Dirt”

Also, the album’s line-up, with Dave Mustaine (vocals and guitar), Marty Friedman (guitar), David Ellefson (bass), and Nick Menza (drums) is my favorite Megadeth line-up ever. Not only they create a tough-sounding wall of music and compact entity, but they also seem to fill each other gaps musically where necessary. Their musicianship is phenomenal and the production by Max Norman and Dave Mustaine clarifies the quality of the songs even more.

I was lucky enough to see this exact quartet play together in Switzerland, in 1997, promoting their Cryptic Writings album, before Marty Friedman left the band.

Another high grade goes to the lyrics. I have always been a fan of Dave Mustaine’s lyrical work, but the lyrics to the song Symphony of Destruction are just over the top for me. Already the opening lines, “You take a mortal man, and put him in control. Watch him become a god. Watch peoples heads a’roll…” are epic. All lyrics seem to follow a contextual concept, which makes the album a great album to simply sit back and enjoy from the first minute on until the last song is over.

I grade the album as follows:
Lyrics 8/10
Musicianship 10/10
Production 10/10
Concept 8/10
Total grade: 9/10

A 20th anniversary box was released in 2012, including a bonus live disc: Live at the Cow Place, which was recorded in San Francisco in 1992. A very cool piece of history. I can only recommend picking up Megadeth’s Countdown to Extinction; this is real and honest heavy metal. You won’t regret it.

If you’d like to add anything, agree or disagree with me, leave a comment or tweet me @sebisays. I’m looking forward reading from you.

Sebastiano Mereu

YouTuber + host of the #FHTZ online music show with co-producer @simonkurt + marketing & digital content producer + university lecturer