Sound — 8
Megadeth needs absolutely no introduction - if you need to be introduced to Megadeth, you're probably deaf or something. A band that has been treadin water to some extent in the past decade, releasing some album thats are really just 'good' and nothing more. Cast your minds back to the good old days, and chances are a lot of people will hardly remember much of this record, a lost gem of thrash metal that was sandwiched in between two far more successful releases. Despite being overshadowed by the likes of 'Peace Sells... But Who's Buying?' and 'Rust in Peace', 'So Far, So Good...So What!' is quite possibly one of the best thrash albums to come out of the eighties and its certainly worth a place in your record collection. However, this isn't an album for the faint of heart but if you like your music fast, energetic, heavy, catchy and wonderfully crafted then read on... The album kicks off with the three and a half minute assault of 'Into the Lungs of Hell', a display of technical instrumental wizardry that if anything, sets the pace for the album rather nicely and leads straight into the first 'proper' song on the album, coincidentally one of the first songs Dave Mustaine ever wrote for the band -'Set the World Afire'. An absolutely devastating track that paints a harrowing, if somewhat dated image of a post-nuclear fallout not only with the lyrics, but with it's barrage of riffs. It may start out simplistic, but anyone who knows Megadeth's early works knows that Mustaine never keeps stuff simple. You ridiculous metalcore kids could learn a lesson here, this is music that requires balls - and by god Mustaine has them. Massive balls the size of the sun, and hes ain't shy to let people know about it, playing faster and angrier than before yet retaining his extremely tight rhythm style intact. Considering the guy was off his tits on smack whilst recording this album, this is beyond incredible! Other tracks, such as 'Mary Jane', dabble with some slower and slightly more experimental styles that are no less punishing than the album's openers, with new guitarist Jeff Young playing some spectacular (though slightly odd-sounding) guitar passages and he gives this album a bit of spit and shine that gives it that extra appeal that all records need. Now, the ONLY song that every single Megadeth fans knows from this album is 'In My Darkest Hour', Dave Mustain's fitting tribute to ex-bandmate Cliff Burton. Possibly the best display of emotion and anger anyone could ever display in a single song, this has quite rightly because a staple at Megadeth's shows and frankly I don't need to go over this song here because everyone with ears will have heard it - read another review if you've been living under a rock since 1988. The absolute standout of 'SFSGSW' though, has to be the album closer 'Hook In Mouth'. One of the angriest, most evil sounding songs Mustaine and Co. have ever written, this furious outlash at the PMRC is simmering with rage all the way through, picking up pace here and there just to prove... that it can! Dave Mustaine makes this song but credit where its due to Chuck Behler on drums. Not just on the final track, but on the album in general - a lot of people who dislike this record tend to blame Behler for it's shortcomings but if anything Behler is one of the album's best aspects. Yeah, hes not amazing but hes not a bad replacement for Gar Samuelson (though I believe Gar was the better drummer). Its not all good news though. There are two tracks on here that drag this album away from the 'nearly flawless' mark - god knows why, but the band decided it's be a good idea to cover the Sex Pistols' 'Anarchy in the UK'. I don't mind the original song, and I mind this one too much either, but it completely ruins the flow of the album and putting it as the THIRD track was a huge mistake. Then theres the song '502' which is pretty pointless. Its blatently a filler, its not neccessarily terrible but its just...there. It has no purpose other than to make bump up the track list a notch, and since a lot of the songs on this album were written years before (as I mentioned beforehand, 'Set the World Afire' was written nearly five years before this album was released) you can tell that when Mustaine tried to write new songs for 'SFSGSW' he was so smacked off his tits that he just couldn't do it. Final mention to bassist David Ellefson, who does a good job keeping up with Jeff and Dave on all the songs though he never does anything REALLY outstanding. Keeping up with the guitars is hard enough with a record like this though, so fair enough I suppose. Overall, a fantastic album with fantastic production, some incredible riffs and a violent, sinsiter sound, let down by two average filler tracks that were very poorly placed on the tracklisting. Use the 'skip track' button accordingly.
Lyrics — 7
Dave Mustaine is no singer. This is a fact, and though a lot of Megafanboys will disagree he has never been - and never will be - a good singer. Still, his voice has always suited the music hes made and I think his perfomance here is hes best after 1992's 'COuntdown to Extinction'. That evil Mustaine snarl is more prevalent than ever and it fits better than ever too - just don't expect Rob Halfor. Lyrics, for the most part, are a very interesting read and as with the album in general, the lyrics as a whole are let down by '502' with it's terrible lyrics about speeding ('Driving fast makes me feel good/speed trap under my hood'). The lyrics to 'Mary Jane have been the subject of endless discussion for a long time, as there are numerous interpretations of the songs meaning - some say its about marajuana, some say its about a with, there are so many theories that its difficult to really say much of it. 'Liar' has a bit of a backstory to it, being written about previous guitarist Chris Poland who was fired after continuously pawning the band's gear from heroin. Nothing life changing with the lyrics, but the suject matter is most certainly something different to a majority of what Megadeth write about these days, with Mustaine's newfound relentless 'F--k the government' attitude really starting to grate with a lot of fans. Finally, the epic 'Hook in Mouth' is Dave Mustaine's marvelous 'f--k you' to the PMRC, who at the time were causing a lot of trouble with the over sensitivity of music censorship. Both instrumentally and lyrically, this song is one of the best Dave has ever done and ever will do, cleverly stating 'F is for fighting/R is for Red/Ancestor's blood in the battles they've shed/E we elect them/E we eject them/In the land of the free and the home of the brave/D for your dying/O your overture/M we will cover your grave with manure/This spells our freedom, it means nothing to me/So long as theres a PMRC'. Mustaine's balls of steel show themselves through once again. Shame that the narcotics ruined the lyrics for a few songs on this record, otherwise I would've marked it much much higher.
Overall Impression — 9
As I have mentioned numerous times now, if this album had put the Sex Pistols cover elsewhere in the tracklisting and pretty much nixed '502' completely, the album would've scored so much higher. But thats what the skip button on your CD/media player is for, and some people absolutely love these tracks so its all a matter of opinion. Don't let the relatively low score fool you,this album is a spectacular achievement that deserves to be played at extremely high volumes. Standouts most definitely go to 'Hook in Mouth', 'Set the World Afire', 'Into the Lungs of Hell' and 'In My Darkest Hour', though you'll have to see which songs you like yourself as this album, as previously stated, divides opinion a lot. The fact that this album rocks as hard as it does still leaves me in disbelief after hearing about the insane numbers of illegal sustances going into the bands' bodies at the time, so I think it just goes to show that Dave Mustaine really is one of thrash metal's frontrunners and probably always will be. Pick up 'So Far, So Good... So What!' whenever you get the chance, it'll kick you in the f--king nuts!