The discovery of a new band is always exciting. Will it be something you’ve heard countless times? An experience that leaves a bad taste in your mouth? Or is it a treat from which you cannot stop consuming? I wanted to take a trip back in time to reminisce about bands/albums that not only introduced me to heavy music, but kept me coming back for more…
From The Archive: Megadeth – Countdown To Extinction
Hey, it’s Evan here. With the release of Megadeth’s next album just around the corner I asked Dan if it would be alright if I were to do From the Archive this week and reflect on my favorite, and first Megadeth album. I hope you guys enjoy the read. Cheers!
As a child and young teenager I never really listened to music. Like, at all, with the exception of Eminem (yeah, I’m metal), but when I entered high school I found myself being drawn to new areas of entertainment to deal with the stupidity that takes place there. I started with classic rock like Aerosmith, and moved on to more modern alternative rock acts like Breaking Benjamin and The Killers, and while those were all well in good, I wanted something more, something fiercer, something heavy – so I listened to a bit of Disturbed and liked it at first, but it just felt shallow and repetitive, then I moved on to System of a Down, who I still think are an excellent example of accessible yet heavy music, but I was still young to the sound, and I wanted more. Then one day I entered a metal thread on a random forum site. I asked them to recommend some music to a new listener, and the first thing that was recommended was Megadeth’s Countdown to Extinction.
I remember being up late at night, with shitty earbuds in my head typing in the name of the album on youtube, and pulling up the title track. While I had been exposed to bits and pieces of metal before from the radio and the gateway bands that I mentioned above, Megadeth seemed wholly new to me. The gritty and visceral vocals of Dave Mustaine actually scared me a bit, and the crashing drums and resonating basslines enveloped me completely. I was drawn into this claustrophobic piece of music that went on about the coming end of the world. Claustrophobic is the best way to describe how I felt — and still feel — when I listened to that album. It was like Mustaine was speaking directly to me, accusing me and trying to persuade me at the same time. His voice hadn’t turned into the deep old man thing that you hear now, and the sickly thoughts of youth permeated his speech and inflection. It was weird to be so repulsed and entranced all at the same time, but that’s what happened to me. I know my descriptions seem a bit hyperbolic, but this was such a fresh experience for me, and I’m just detailing how I felt.
Like a lot of Megadeth’s music, “Skin O’ My Teeth” may be a bit silly now, but to a teenager just entering high school pieces of music like that just speak to you. It was an anthem to keep going on despite all the problems happening in my life (lol teenager problems). After “Skin O’ My Teeth”, each subsequent song just sounded better and better; I now maintain that the first three songs are the best songs Megadeth have ever written. I know a lot of people feel that Countdown isn’t as good as Rust in Peace, but I’ve always felt the opposite towards it. I know Rust has a cool concept, and feels livelier, but Countdown‘s closed in presence is what I loved.
Another thing that drew me into this record at the time – and still does to this day – is the production. It has a very classic sound to it, but it still maintains an edgy, modern presence. There’s an ebb and flow to this album; one minute you have a really heavy riff or solo pounding your ears, then a soothing chorus will come in to tell you about how fucked up the world and the government is. It’s kind of a paradox.
To this day I can recite all of the songs off of the top of my head, and hum the guitar melodies without any help from the music. While Megadeth have done some great stuff throughout their career, and will continue to do so in the future, I just don’t see how any other album can compare to this. It’s such a solid piece of music, where every instrument complements the other. While Mustaine and crew would love to create a lot of the feeling on this record with Th1rt3en and future albums, nothing will top this experience.