David Ellefson Says This Was the Hardest Megadeth Album to Write

Carter Sterling, CC BY-SA 4.0 , via Wikimedia Commons
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Few in the metal world have had as storied a career as David Ellefson, former bassist for Megadeth. Presently involved with bands such as Kings of Thrash and Dieth, Ellefson is prolific in both his writing and recording endeavors. However, the shadow of Megadeth, one of thrash metal’s most significant entities, is inevitably present in many of his conversations.

Recently, in a segment titled “My 3 Questions to” on the Sobre La Dosis YouTube channel, Ellefson delved deep into his tenure with Megadeth. While many might assume iconic albums such as Rust In Peace or Peace Sells… But Who’s Buying? would stand out as the most challenging, Ellefson surprised fans with his response (transcribed by Ultimate Guitar). “Hands down, ‘Countdown to Extinction’, for sure. It was a massive step up in every dimension, and the digital recording process we undertook was incredibly demanding,” he remarked. Yet, despite the challenges, Ellefson holds it close to his heart, laughing as he added, “Also, one of my favorite albums we ever did.”

Countdown to Extinction, released in 1992, housed anthems like “Sweating Bullets,” “Symphony of Destruction,” and “Foreclosure of a Dream”. Even though listening in 2023 might make it hard for some to grasp the complexities involved, especially from a bassist’s perspective, Ellefson’s input emphasizes the intricacies of the album’s creation.

In the same interview, Ellefson touched upon rekindling his camaraderie with Jeff Young, another ex-Megadeth member. Their reconnection happened unexpectedly during a jam for Ronnie Montrose Remembered at a NAMM event a decade ago. Reminiscing about the encounter, Ellefson said, “I was playing with some legendary musicians when I noticed Jeff in the crowd. It was probably the first time in 25 years since our paths had crossed.” This chance meeting led to a rekindled musical bond when Young hummed a riff from 1988, triggering nostalgic memories for Ellefson. This renewed friendship and shared musical vision eventually gave rise to Kings of Thrash.

Despite the ups and downs in Ellefson’s career, including his well-documented departure from Megadeth in 2021, his impact on the band and the broader thrash metal scene is undeniable. The unique rhythmic flair he brought to Megadeth’s albums, particularly “Countdown to Extinction”, remains a testament to his enduring legacy.

Currently, fans of Ellefson and Young can find them channeling their energy into Kings of Thrash, paying homage to classic Megadeth while also teasing a forthcoming debut album. Whatever the future holds, Ellefson’s place in the annals of metal history is assured.

See the full interview below.