Welcome to the first edition of "The Devil's Advocate". Basically this column is going to stir shit up, more or less. We'll propose some stupid, overdone and/or even thought intriguing subjects for you to mull over and see what happens.
I was on my way to work this morning and was stuck in the 'M's on my iPod. Instead of taking my eyes off of the road for a few minutes to scroll through, I went from Mastodon to Megadeth and for whatever reason, I picked 1992's Countdown To Extinction. It doesn't take me very long to get to work, so I only got through the first three songs, but while heading home from work, I continued to listen and started thinking that this album is so much better than The Black Album in so many ways.
You see, Metallica's Black Album catapulted them in to a whirlwind of popularity that five years later proved to be the peak of their musical apex as far as fan approval goes. While it turned a lot of people on to Metallica and their back catalog, it also birthed many new fans that would not be fanatics of their older albums. They would however be the new generation of fanboys while an old generation of fanboys held on, hoping for another Master Of Puppets. Never happened.
While The Black Album gets a lot of flack, it's still a great album. A bit catchy, but I can't deny that it is a good album. I think most Metallica fans really liked it until it grew in popularity so much that their little piece of mind that they could call their own was this huge, snowballing band that even the mainstream was loving. They saw their beloved band that was often ignored and only loved by them, become bigger than ever and every tool-bag frat boy was cranking Enter Sandman in their rugby shirts and acting like they were the biggest fans ever. Suddenly the Black Album didn't seem so cool anymore.
Dave Mustaine had finally found the line-up that worked like a well oiled machine. After releasing Rust In Peace, what more could Megadeth do? They released a monster of an album a year before the Black Album, only to be overshadowed by Metallica once again. What was Dave and the crew to do but try to one-up Metallica with what Mustaine wanted to be the perfect album. A killer album from beginning to end with strong political, financial and environmental messages as well as dealing with some of Dave's own demons. Production was spot on in every way.
While this is probably a very redundant argument, it is still one for the ages. I mean, if you compare the albums on a level where each band showed changed, perhaps Metallica showed the most change in a musical level, but they were always progressing just like most bands do. From Kill'em All right up through ...And Justice For All, they were honing their sound into something better. The Black Album just showed a more radio-friendly and softer side of the band, while Hetfield continued on with his "I hate you, mommy and daddy" complex. Megadeth on the other hand continued on from Rust In Peace without changing up very much at all and created an album that would also gain fans through radio play and videos.
Without going any deeper in to it and contradicting my own argument, I feel that Countdown To Extinction is the superior album. Of course, that is simply my opinion, though I like both albums and perhaps it's just the Megadeth fanboy in me that insists on thinking that it is. So, what do you think? Countdown To Extinction Vs. The Black Album?