April 14, 2018 Megadeth – So Far, So Good…So What! 30 Years Later
The history and development of perhaps any commonly recognizable genre is well-documented. This is in thanks to the passionate and painstaking works of many academic journalists and musicologists who took the time to immerse themselves in different kinds of music. Also, to study the musicality enough for them to be able to compare and contrast these and then provide clear descriptions and suggestions via published books, documentaries, and even mere Internet articles.
Add to that, the passion of countless fans many of whom have taken also the task of listening to full discographies and writing about them and sharing their personal perspectives. This is the reason bands’ stories become true-to-life and no longer just tall tales nor embellished legends. Once romanticized and mystified icons are now living flesh and spirits who breathe among us. But then, of course, their music remains the treasure and magic that they truly are.
Take for example, Metallica. By now, its former guitar player, Dave Mustaine, having been booted out of the band is no longer a myth. This had surely caused heartaches and resentments between him and his former bandmates for many years; but on retrospect, the incident resulted in the formation of another highly regarded heavyweight in the Metal world—Megadeth. Besides, Mustaine and the current Metallica men had long patched whatever gaps and holes their parting of ways in 1983 had caused. Wounds healed. Spirits soared even higher. After the soot and smoke, music is what remained.
Megadeth was formed in 1983, in Los Angeles, California, United States, by Mustaine (vocals/guitar) and David Ellefson (bass) after the former’s dismissal from Metallica. Almost immediately, Megadeth joined the anvil beaters of Thrash Metal, an enduring and prolific one at that.
To date, Megadeth has released 15 studio albums, from 1985’s Killing Is My Business… and Business Is Good! to 2016’s Dystopia. Mustaine had shown what he was really capable of as early as his band’s first offering; however, it would take him a couple albums more before the band would join the ranks in the pantheon of Metal greats. This album, which shot Megadeth into the center of the Metal arena, was So Far, So Good…So What!, and it has turned 30! So, dust off your copy of this landmark album and give it a full-volume treatment as you trek down memory lane, back when it was first unleashed three decades ago.
Released on January 19, 1988, on Capitol Records, So Far, So Good…So What! is Megadeth’s third oeuvre. It remains one of the band’s most Thrash-heavy album, featuring songs with neck-breaking tempos, relatively complex structures, and marked technicality. Mustaine was obviously in top form and still in revenge mode during its production, for the motorbreath intensity was all over the songs.
So Far, So Good…So What! opened with “Into the Lungs of Hell” – a perfect prelude to the looming sonic blitzkrieg; to this day, it remains one of the best Metal instrumentals, fitting well onto a playlist that includes Iron Maiden “Genghis Khan,” Metallica’s “The Call of Ktulu,” Yngwie Malmsteen’s “Bite the Bullet,” Shotgun Messiah’s “The Explorer,” and Mastodon’s “The Czar.” Dropping next like a nuclear bomb was the aptly titled “Set the World Afire,” whose relentless angular chops and unforgiving pounding surely beat the hell out of the listener’s senses, albeit in sickly sweet surrender. The vibes then turned more sinister and intimidating when Megadeth launched into their towering, infernal rendition of The Sex Pistols’ “Anarchy in the U.K.,” converting Punk notoriety to Metal blasphemy.
The highlight of the album came next in the form of “Mary Jane” – dark, ominous, symphonic, syncopated, progressive; with Mustaine’s growls and screams and the unstoppable guitar outburst overtaking the atmosphere. Still in attack mode, the ensuing “502” then marched and galloped, ruthlessly kicking and plowing everyone and everything that was in its way.
Megadeth slowed down for a wee bit, albeit the sharp jabs and pain still emanating, as they dished out the six-minute epic “In My Darkest Hour,” which was accordingly Mustaine’s elegy to Metallica’s original bass player, Cliff Burton, who died in 1986 in a vehicular accident. The following “Liar” moved the shift stick to maximum overdrive, further showcasing the equally virtuosic skills of Mustaine and Ellefson’s comrades at the time—Jeff Young (lead guitar, rhythm guitar, acoustic guitar) and Chuck Behler (drums, percussion).
Finally, the Megadeth squad left the scene of their apocalyptic onslaught with “Hook in the Mouth.” They had just begun! Their symphony of destruction was yet to come! Many critics still tend to be dismissive of So Far, So Good…So What! for varied reasons. Nevertheless, no matter what they say… so what! You control the knobs. You decide. Just play the 30-year-old bastard. Turn the volume to max. Set the loudspeakers afire! Terrorize your neighbors, and blast ’em all!