Friday, March 11, 2011

The Devil's Advocate: Megadeth's Countdown Vs. Metallica's Black Album

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?


Rob Liz said...

I prefer Countdown over the Black album. While both bands in essence abandoned their thrash roots Megadeth went with a more progressive approach that was engaging then what Metallica did. There is absolutely no filler on Countdown whereas the Black Album has songs I can't even listen to anymore because they were far from my favorites even back then like the Struggle Within and Holier than Thou.

Draeden said...

If you look at the numbers, Metallica's Black album far surpasses Countdown. Why? The music is better, the thematics are better, it's more varied than Countdown which is pretty much just the same old Megadeth stuff. Nothing wrong with it, it's just boring.

Metallica's cd is just full of epic music that's geared toward many different fans of music when megadeth is pretty much just catering to their fans.

Metallica reinvented themselves and it worked. The music touches on many different styles and their songwriting was incredibly deep and personal.

The black album is full over memorable and timeless songs and
Countdown had like one hit song? No comparison.

Metallica wins hands down.

Scott said...

Numbers don't mean shit. That would mean that Lady Gaga is the greatest musician in the world and Nickelback is the best rock band since the Beetles.

I mean, Megadeth is no Vampires Everywhere, but at least they learn from their mistakes (Risk).

Rob Liz said...

Lol @ Scott for the VE comment. And seriously, Draeden? You believe that shit you just wrote? If I didn't already know you I'd swear a troll just posted a comment.

Scott said...

I actually expect more people to claim The Black Album over Countdown because there are simply more mainstream Metallica fans that have never even heard Megadeth or perhaps knew that Mustaine was once IN Metallica.

Draeden said...

Funny.. What I meant was not in sales but in awesome songs.. The Black album is full of MEMORABLE songs.. not just hits or number 1's or whatever, but memorable songs. They're memorable because they're fantastically crafted, connectible songs that speak to millions of people. I can almost guarantee that people will be able to sing you lines from metallica's black album over megadeth.. it's because those songs are way better

Scott said...

I beg to differ. It's because it got way more radio play and Metallica has always slightly overshadowed Megadeth. I would be willing to bet that most people that can sing every song on that album can not remember every song from Kill'em All, Master Of Puppets or Ride The Lightening and the only song they know from Justice is One. I would also be willing to bet that most of the people that call themselves Metallica fans because they love the black album so much, can only name a handful of songs such as Enter Sandman, Nothing Else Matters, Sad But True, Unforgiven and perhaps Wherever I May Roam.

Being a big fan of both bands, I just find that it's easier for me to listen to Countdown all the way through than it is to listen to the Black Album all the way through without wanting to skip over tracks such as Holier Than Thou, My Friend Of Misery, The Struggle Within and The God That Failed. There was a reason that Metallica put their best songs in the first 5 tracks.

Draeden said...

I (kinda) like Megadeth. Rust in Peace is just epic.. I can't say I liked a whole album from them since RIP... Mostly is just a song here and there..

Rob Liz said...

The Black album was not masterfully crafted. Well not in the true musician sense. None of those songs have the structure and progression of Master of Puppets. Those songs were memorable because they were played to death.

Countdown has a ton of memorable songs too. Just not nearly as much plays. Skin o' my teeth...Foreclosure of a Dream...Sweating bullets? On top of Symphony of Destruction which does get played to death. But all of those songs have more intricate structure then anything on the Black album.

ferretjoe said...

imho, both releases have their own qualities, and stand as great metal albums, However, being as the Black album was Metallica's last stand before their pussification, I must give it to Countdown after seeing both bands subsequent to both of them.