Countdown to Extinction
Released July 14, 1992
Recorded January 6 - April 28, 1992
At The Enterprise in Burbank, California
Length 47:26
Number of tracks 11
Label Capitol
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Countdown to Extinction is the fifth studio album by the American heavy metal band Megadeth. It was released on July 14, 1992 through Capitol Records. Countdown to Extinction is Megadeth's best-selling album, with over two million copies sold and achieving double platinum status. The album also produced the band's most successful hit singles, "Symphony of Destruction", "Sweating Bullets", "Skin o' My Teeth" and "Foreclosure of a Dream", videos were made for all singles and also for "High Speed Dirt".

Countdown to Extinction was nominated for Best Metal Performance at the 1993 Grammy Awards and the title track of the album won the Humane Society's Genesis Award, making Megadeth the only heavy metal band to be given this honor.

Production and marketingEdit

Countdown to Extinction was the second album featuring the Dave Mustaine/David Ellefson/Nick Menza/Marty Friedman line-up. It was produced by Mustaine and Max Norman at The Enterprise in Burbank, California. It was pre-produced by Ryan Greene.

The band's change in musical style meant that many songs on the album follow a more traditional hard rock structure, with verses and choruses (unlike many of the band's previous albums). The album is the band's most commercially successful album to date.

Lyrical themesEdit

Like its predecessor, many of the songs on the album have political and military undertones. For example, "Symphony of Destruction" is a song about military dictators, "Architecture of Aggression" focuses on the military-industrial complex, and "Ashes in Your Mouth" concentrates on the negative aftermaths of war ("sweet taste of vindication, it turns to ashes in your mouth"). In a similar vein, "Psychotron" details a merciless cyborg killing machine of the same name, and is based on the Marvel comic book character Deathlok. Other political songs include "Captive Honour", a song about prison and the consequences of crime, "Countdown to Extinction", a song about canned hunts (which many believed was a jab at Metallica frontman James Hetfield and his love for hunting), and "Foreclosure of a Dream", a song that looks at rise and fall of political and economic ideologies, which also includes the infamous 1988 "Read my lips" quote by George H. W. Bush (and on a more personal level, about Ellefson's parents who allegedly lost their jobs under the Reagan Administration). The title song "Countdown To Extinction" also won Megadeth the Humane Society of the United States "Genesis Award" for its dealings with issues of animal welfare.

The rest of the songs' undertones are more spread around. "Skin o' My Teeth" is about Mustaine's numerous attempts at suicide but "just couldn't get the fucking job done" as Mustaine said during a 1992 concert. "Sweating Bullets" has been referred to be about schizophrenia. Before the song is performed, Mustaine tells the audience it's about schizophrenia and has described it as a song "about me... and me." "This Was My Life" refers to a failing relationship where that despite wanting to kill your spouse, you'll be sent to the electric chair regardless for your actions. The slow melodic section at the end of "This Was My Life" is the same chord progression as Mustaine's contribution to the breakdown section in the middle of his former band Metallica's "Phantom Lord" from Kill 'Em All. "High Speed Dirt" is about skydiving.

Cover versions and usageEdit

Cover versions

  • "Symphony of Destruction" by Arch Enemy, on the EP Dead Eyes See No Future.
  • "Symphony of Destruction" by Nightwish, on the single The Siren.
  • "Skin o' My Teeth" by Kalmah, on the album They Will Return.

Video games

  • Guitar Hero (a cover version of "Symphony of Destruction")
  • True Crime: Streets of LA ("Symphony of Destruction")
  • WWE SmackDown! vs. Raw 2006 ("Symphony of Destruction (Steve Tusher Remix)")
  • [FlatOut 2 ("Symphony of Destruction")
  • Guitar Hero 5 ("Sweating Bullets", plus a master recording of "Symphony of Destruction" was released as part of the Megadeth track pack)
  • Brütal Legend ("High Speed Dirt")
  • Full Auto 2: Battlelines ("Symphony of Destruction")


In August, 2004, Capitol Records released a remastered version for ordinary compact disc playback systems, with four bonus tracks.

According to the 2004 remastered version liner notes, Mustaine was upset with the album only reaching number two on the charts (behind Billy Ray Cyrus), and thus set out to make a number one album.

In June, 2006, two audiophile remasters of the album were released, an Ultradisc II Gold CD version by the Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab, and a 180 gram vinyl 2LP version, both mixed by Dave Mustaine.

Track listingEdit

No. Title Composer Length
1. "Skin o' My Teeth" Dave Mustaine 3:14
2. "Symphony of Destruction" Mustaine 4:02
3. "Architecture of Aggression" Mustaine, David Ellefson 3:34
4. "Foreclosure of a Dream" Mustaine, Ellefson 4:17
5. "Sweating Bullets" (5:27 on the 2004 release) Mustaine 5:03
6. "This Was My Life" Mustaine 3:42
7. "Countdown to Extinction" Mustaine, Ellefson, Marty Friedman, Nick Menza 4:16
8. "High Speed Dirt" (4:21 on the 2004 reissue) Mustaine, Ellefson 4:12
9. "Psychotron" Mustaine 4:42
10. "Captive Honour" Mustaine, Ellefson, Friedman, Menza 4:14
11. "Ashes in Your Mouth" Mustaine, Ellefson, Friedman, Menza 6:10
Total length:
Japanese edition bonus tracks
No. Title Composer Length
12. "Breakpoint" Ellefson, Menza, Mustaine 3:28
13. "Go to Hell" Ellefson, Friedman, Menza, Mustaine 4:37
2004 remastered/remixed edition bonus tracks
No. Title Composer Length
12. "Crown of Worms" Mustaine 3:18
13. "Countdown to Extinction" (demo) Friedman, Mustaine 3:55
14. "Symphony of Destruction" (demo) Mustaine, Ellefson 5:30
15. "Psychotron" (demo) Mustaine, Ellefson 5:28



Production Edit

  • Produced by Max Norman and Dave Mustaine
  • Engineered and mixed by Max Norman with Fred Kelly, Jr.
  • Additional engineer: Micajah Ryan

Remix and Remaster

  • Produced by Dave Mustaine
  • Mixed by Ralph Patlan and Dave Mustaine
  • Engineered by Ralph Patlan with Lance Dean
  • Edited by Lance Dean and Scott "Sarge" Harrison with Bo Caldwell
  • Mastered by Tom Baker