Countdown to Extinction was nominated for Best Metal Performance at the 1993 Grammy Awards.
Countdown to Extinction was the second album featuring the Dave Mustaine/David Ellefson/Nick Menza/Marty Friedman line-up. It was produced by Mustaine and Max Norman at The Enterprise in Burbank, California. It was pre-produced by Ryan Greene.
The band’s change in musical style meant that many songs on the album follow a more traditional hard rock structure, with verses and choruses (unlike many of the band’s previous albums). The album is the band’s most commercially successful album to date.
Like its predecessor, many of the songs on the album have political and military undertones. For example, “Symphony of Destruction” is a song about military dictators, “Architecture of Aggression” focuses on the military-industrial complex, and “Ashes in Your Mouth” concentrates on the negative aftermaths of war (“sweet taste of vindication, it turns to ashes in your mouth”). In a similar vein, “Psychotron” details a merciless cyborg killing machine of the same name, and is based on the Marvel comic book character Deathlok. Other political songs include “Captive Honour”, a song about prison and the consequences of crime, “Countdown to Extinction”, a song about canned hunts (which many believed was a jab at Metallica frontman James Hetfield and his love for hunting), and “Foreclosure of a Dream”, a song that looks at rise and fall of political and economic ideologies, which also includes the infamous 1988 “Read my lips” quote by George H. W. Bush (and on a more personal level, about Ellefson’s parents who allegedly lost their jobs under the Reagan Administration). The title song “Countdown To Extinction” also won Megadeth the Humane Society of the United States “Genesis Award” for its dealings with issues of animal welfare.
The rest of the songs’ undertones are more spread around. “Skin o’ My Teeth” is about Mustaine’s numerous attempts at suicide but “just couldn’t get the fucking job done” as Mustaine said during a 1992 concert. “Sweating Bullets” has been referred to be about Schizophrenia. Before the song is performed, Dave Mustaine tells the audience it’s about Schizophrenia and has described it as a song “about me… and me.” “This Was My Life” refers to a failing relationship where that despite wanting to kill your spouse, you’ll be sent to the electric chair regardless for your actions. The slow melodic section at the end of “This Was My Life” is the same chord progression as Mustaine’s contribution to the breakdown section in the middle of his former band Metallica’s “Phantom Lord” from Kill ‘Em All. “High Speed Dirt” is about skydiving.
The song “Symphony of Destruction” was covered by the band Arch Enemy on the EP Dead Eyes See No Future, and by Nightwish on their single for the song “The Siren”. It is also featured in the PlayStation 2 game Guitar Hero and True Crime: Streets of LA for the PC. A remix is also included on WWE Smackdown vs Raw 2006 for PlayStation 2. In 2005, the game FlatOut 2 included it as a soundtrack.
The song “Skin o’ My Teeth” was covered by the band Kalmah on the album They Will Return.
According to the 2004 remastered version liner notes, Mustaine was upset with the record only reaching number two on the charts, and thus set out to make a number one record.
Edited by Timitzi on 27 Apr 2009, 15:47
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