Countdown to Extinction

Countdown to Extinction
1 old skinny man looking up w/ open mouth (center), band name (top), album name (bottom)
Studio album by
ReleasedJuly 14, 1992 (1992-07-14)
RecordedJanuary 6 – April 28, 1992
StudioThe Enterprise in Burbank, California
Megadeth chronology
Rust in Peace
Countdown to Extinction
Singles from Countdown to Extinction
  1. "Symphony of Destruction"
    Released: July 21, 1992
  2. "Foreclosure of a Dream"
    Released: October 13, 1992
  3. "Sweating Bullets"
    Released: February 16, 1993
  4. "Skin o' My Teeth"
    Released: April 12, 1993

Countdown to Extinction is the fifth studio album by American thrash metal band Megadeth, released on July 14, 1992, through Capitol Records. It was the group's second studio release to feature the "classic" lineup of Dave Mustaine, Marty Friedman, David Ellefson and Nick Menza, with all of them contributing to songwriting on the album. The album features some of the band's best known songs such as "Symphony of Destruction", "Sweating Bullets", and "Skin o' My Teeth", which enjoyed significant chart success and made a great musical impact.

Countdown to Extinction received positive reaction from music critics, who noted its politically oriented lyrics and simplified sound in comparison to their previous record. The album entered the Billboard 200 at number two, the band's highest position ever. It eventually achieved triple platinum status and became their most commercially successful album. The record was nominated for Best Metal Performance at the 1993 Grammy Awards, while the album's title track won the Humane Society's Genesis Award for raising awareness for animal rights issues.

In 2012, in recognition of the album's 20th anniversary, Megadeth kicked off a 20th anniversary tour in South America, playing the album in its entirety. In addition, a 20th anniversary special edition of the album was released in November 2012, and a live album featuring a performance of the full album was released in September 2013.

Production and musical style

Countdown to Extinction is Megadeth's fifth studio album, and the second to feature the line-up of Dave Mustaine, Marty Friedman, David Ellefson and Nick Menza.[1] In an interview for Billboard at the time, Mustaine admitted that he fired past members Chuck Behler and Jeff Young because they resisted his pleas to seek rehabilitative counseling.[2] He added that it was a "major accomplishment" that all four members of Megadeth contributed material to the album, unlike their earlier releases which were "nearly all Mustaine".[3] Mustaine also revealed that producer Max Norman had significant input to the album by making "a lot of suggestions and a lot of great artistic ideas".[4] Guitarist Marty Friedman said that unlike Rust in Peace, the creation of this record was "completely different". He further stated that the band had changed the songs "a million times" before recording them on demo and entering the studio.[5]

The music for Countdown to Extinction was written in two different sessions. The first session was done following the conclusion of Clash of the Titans tour, while the second session took place after a one-month break, in the fall of 1991.[6] The album was recorded in the first half of 1992, when the Rodney King Riots took place. These events negatively affected the recording process, as the band was forced to leave the studio every night at six o'clock because of the enacted curfew. Dave Mustaine shared his experience: "There’s nothing worse than getting a creative moment and you have to leave. It was like a school bell ringing."[7] The record was produced by Mustaine and Max Norman at The Enterprise in Burbank, California, while the mixing was handed by Norman with the help of Fred Kelly.[8] Referring to the recording process, Mustaine said that Countdown to Extinction "was one of those records where everything was firing on all 12 cylinders and you just know it".[9] He also said that it didn't take the band a long time to record the album because "records were a lot easier to make back then because the pressure wasn't quite as hard".[10]

We'd take a break and go outside with a basketball and shoot some hoops and walk back in, and Dave would pick his guitar up, and out fell the riff to "Sweating Bullets".

— David Ellefson, on composing the music[6]

Following Metallica's mainstream breakthrough in 1991 with the success of their eponymous album which saw them strip down their sound, Mustaine decided to follow suit, though the music remained as technically perfectionist as their previous releases.[11] Drummer Nick Menza explained: "Metallica has definitely opened the doors for other bands to step through. We're obviously the next band to step through that doorway."[12] Musically, Countdown to Extinction saw Megadeth beginning to incorporate more melody and mid-tempos into its traditional sound.[13] Bassist David Ellefson noted that the band's goal was to "create music that had more of a groove to it," capitalizing on the melodic playing style employed by Friedman, and further assisted by the input of producer Norman.[14] Author Thomas Harrison wrote that with this album, Megadeth's music became "more virtuosic than noisy and took the next step toward widespread acceptance".[15]

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