Thursday, 15 November 2012

CD Review: So Far, So Good...So What!, by Megadeth (1988)

With Megadeth locked in a mighty struggle against the ravages of substance abuse, Jeff Young and Chuck Behler replace the fired Chris Poland and Gar Samuelsson on guitar and drums respectively. Through the fog of addictions and a poor, mucky mix, So Far, So Good...So What! is born as the band's third studio album, and surprisingly, it proves to be one of the band's strongest, most complete records.

So Far, So Good...So What! offers a consistency that is so often lacking on other Megadeth records, without compromising the frantic attitude that defines the band. Other than the unnecessary cover of Anarchy In The U.K., punk not translating well into thrash on this occasion, the album offers an outstanding collection of compact yet thoughtfully constructed thrash metal.

If there is one weakness that hounds the album, it's limited inspiration in song development. Dave Mustaine does not lack for ideas in defining principle themes, main hooks, and opening riffs that dominate and immediately engage. Nor does he lack courage in pushing all the tracks past four minutes in length and sometimes closer to six minutes. But on selections like Mary Jane and In My Darkest Hour, brilliant openings don't arrive at dramatically interesting destinations, and the front halves of the songs are betrayed by diminishing musical returns at the back ends.

But all the elements do come together on four of the eight tracks. Opener Into The Lungs Of Hell  is an instrumental that defines the essence of the Megadeth sound, a marching intro breaking into speed, more speed and an additional layer of maniacal speed as Mustaine just lets loose. Set The World Afire starts with the unforgettable I Don't Want To Set The World On Fire, all the way from The Ink Spots in 1941, before proceeding to do just that, starting with the whistle of an all-destructive incoming missile.

At the back end of the album, Liar floors the accelerator in a demonstration of guitar carnage at an inconceivable tempo and attitudinal snarl. But for pure jaw-dropping guitar sorcery, Mustaine saves the best for last, Hook In Mouth setting out with the sole purpose of shredding the soundscape into thin strips with a mammoth guitar assault. Hook In Mouth features what can only be described as soloing on steroids, Mustaine sweeping the fretboard with beady-eyed abandon and setting an impossible standard for future generations of guitar heroes.

So Far, So Good...So What! is brilliant and underrated, a somewhat lost thrash treasure filled with gems worth celebrating.


Dave Mustaine - Vocals, Guitars
Jeff Young - Guitars
David Ellefson - Bass
Chuck Behler - Drums

Songlist (ratings out of 10):

1. Into The Lungs Of Hell - 10  *see below*
2. Set The World Afire - 9
3. Anarchy In The U.K. - 7
4. Mary Jane - 8
5. 502 - 7
6. In My Darkest Hour - 8
7. Liar - 9
8. Hook In Mouth - 10

Average: 8.50

Produced by Paul Lani and Dave Mustaine.
Engineered by Paul Lani. Mixed by Michael Wagener.
Mastered by Stephen Marcussen.

All Ace Black Blog Heavy Metal CD Reviews are here.

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