"When we recorded Killing Is My Business... And Business Is Good!, I was doing pot, coke, and heroin. For Peace Sells... But Who's Buying?, it was speed, coke, and heroin. So Far, So Good... So What? was me on heroin and freebase. I was addicted to cigarettes for Rust in Peace. But our new album, Countdown to Extinction, is me pure. I was stone sober." (Mustaine, 1993)
Countdown to Extinction was produced by Max Norman, known for his collaboration with Ozzy Osbourne. The album was realized with the use of digital technology, as was The Black Album of Metallica, which considerably improved the sound quality.
"Max is about as smart as they come, the only thing wrong with Max is... he doesn't have red hair." (Dave Mustaine, 1993)
Countdown to Extinction was's the largest commercial success in Megadeth's history - in the United States it reached second place on the list of bestsellers. Megadeth was right on Metallica's tail, but Mustaine was disappointed - he hoped that Countdown would reach number one, as did The Black Album of Metallica. Countdown to Extinction, was overall, Megadeth's tightest, most straightforward and most accessible album.
Megadeth slowed down slightly for the album, showing a little more diversity in style, letting their jazz influences show in places, especially "Sweating Bullets." the band was a tight as ever, with rock-solid riffs and precision solos throughout. Mustaine's lyrics were even more political than in Rust in Peace or Peace Sells..., talking about the Gulf War ("Architecture of Aggression"), the Recession ("Foreclosure of a Dream"), endangered species ("Countdown to Extinction") and the prison system ("Captive Honour"). Countdown to Extinction, was overall, Megadeth's tightest, most straightforward, most accessible album.
"In the past they were basically Dave's songs and I made contributions to them. This time it was all of us writing. Ironically, the album title, as well as the lyrics to the song 'Countdown to Extinction,' came from Nick." (Ellefson, 1992)
"I'm aware of what's going on right now in humanity, so I write about what's topical. I look ahead to where mankind is going, drawing from what I know about history and what I've learned from the Bible. You can't deny that the world is in a state of very rapid decline. There are holes in the sky, and the plants, trees, fish, and animals are dying. Even the dirt is dying. The clock is ticking, and we have to do something. Humanity is being sucked into the vortex of death. But I know things will be righted sooner or later. Everybody has good intentions, but it's actions that count. It starts with yourself first. If you want to do something good for humanity, do it by setting an example." (Mustaine, 1993)
"I think the reason people think Countdown's a pessimistic album is that they're scared, because they know I'm right and that's it. If you don't like what I say, you know what? Do something about it! Try and help improve our living conditions, but don't just stay there and say, 'Oh Dave's pessimistic.' Fuck you, don't listen to the record! It's better than lying about it and saying everything's fine... Things aren't fine!" (Mustaine, 1993)
This album was nominated for a "Best Metal Performance" Grammy in 1993, but lost to Nine Inch Nails' "Wish."
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