24 May 2008

Why Nietzsche was not a nihilist and why you are forever trapped in the Wizard of Oz (part three)

This is a three part series. You can find all of the parts here:
  1. Why Nietzsche was not a nihilist and why you are forever trapped in the Wizard of Oz (part one)

  2. Why Nietzsche was not a nihilist and why you are forever trapped in the Wizard of Oz (part two)

  3. Why Nietzsche was not a nihilist and why you are forever trapped in the Wizard of Oz (part three)

Wizard of Oz, Doroty, Lion, Tin man, Straw man and Toto
Dorothy and her motley crew. Armed with the will to power, these are dangerous intellectuals who undermine the authority of the state.

Why Nietzsche was not a nihilist

This is the third and final part, explaining why Nietzsche claims you may be perpetually trapped in the Land of Oz. At the very least, you are perpetually trapped on the yellow brick road.
  • Considering Nietzsche's own testimony of his war method, we find that nihilism has all the characteristics of one of his worthy adversaries. Nihilism is a cause that is victorious. It is a cause against which he would not find allies easily, because his only allies would be deists, and these are hardly friendly with Nietzsche after such exhilarating titles such as Beyond Good and Evil and The Antichrist. It follows that Nietzsche would stand alone if he opposed nihilism, which he did in his writings. In fact, in The Antichrist, Nietzsche calls nihilism the will to nothingness, which is contrasted with the will to power. Nietzsche thus sees nihilism in opposition to the will to power. He identifies nihilism as a natural reaction of the Judeo-Christian perspectives to the notion that God is dead, and claims that nihilism is necessary in order to restore the healthy will to power in the populace.

  • Considering the opposition of Apollonian and Dionysian impulses in art, it is easy to equate nihilism with a new world order. Nihilism represents the new Apollonian dynasty. With Nietzsche's methods in mind, it is obvious that Nietzsche would rather be the Dionysus of the new dynasty if the new Apollo already showed its face. Only an Apollo that could withstand the attacks of its Dionysus would be worthy of instilling the master morality of the new generation.

  • Considering Nietzsche's radical perspectivism, one finds that Nietzsche acknowledges nihilism as a valid perspective, but he does not think that it is sound. Nihilism claims that there is no purpose to existence. Nietzsche believed in eternal recurrence. Eternal recurrence is a kind of determinism, meaning we don't really have free will. Eternal recurrence holds that time is infinite, but matter itself is finite. Since matter is finite, the exact combination of matter is likely to occur several times during the course of infinite time. With regards to the yellow brick road, nihilism says there is no point in moving either way along the yellow brick road. The thought of eternal recurrence holds that if we equate the yellow brick road with infinite time, the yellow brick road would extend forever beyond and before the Emerald City. In such an universe, it is likely to encounter the nihilists sitting on the side of the road, claiming the road leads nowhere. It is likely to encounter several Dorothies at various points along the road, and these various points would all be exact replicas of the Land of Oz. In other words, Nietzsche inverts the nihilistic notion that the yellow brick road leads nowhere and claims instead that the yellow brick road leads everywhere else.

  • Considering Nietzsche's theory of master and slave moralities, one could deduce that Nietzsche's purpose is to test all master morality of the next generation. His perspective offers the hindsight of nihilism and Christianity, with its dogmatic requirements of the supernatural and of objective morality. Since these values are attributes of the fallen master moralities of old, Nietzsche rejects them outright. These values are too close for comfort to the values of the wizards who were already behind the curtain, and thus neither nihilism nor Christianity are worthy of pulling the levers in the sequel to the Wizard of Oz.

Emerald City, Wizard of Oz
The Emerald City on the horizon. Eternal recurrence claims we may be forsaken to return to the Land of Oz. Forever.

In conclusion, it is clear that Nietzsche's notions of the will to power, the opposition between Apollonian and Dionysian impulses in art, the struggle between master and slave morality and eternal recurrence are incompatible with a nihilistic world view. His concepts of the übermensch and the last man represent two possible reactions to nihilism, with the übermensch being one that successfully transcends the pessimism of Schopenhauer by utilising the will to power and the last man being one who falls prey to nihilism, the will to nothingness. The last man is tired of living, he takes no risks, he sees no solutions, he seeks comfort and security. In contrast, the übermensch sees utility in place of the last man's futility.

Ruby slippers
Ruby slippers. Futility for the last man. Utility for the übermensch.

Sources consulted

Why Nietzsche was not a nihilist and why you are forever trapped in the Wizard of Oz (part two)

This is a three part series. You can find all of the parts here:
  1. Why Nietzsche was not a nihilist and why you are forever trapped in the Wizard of Oz (part one)

  2. Why Nietzsche was not a nihilist and why you are forever trapped in the Wizard of Oz (part two)

  3. Why Nietzsche was not a nihilist and why you are forever trapped in the Wizard of Oz (part three)

Nietzsche's perspective: Someone has to be the next Wizard of Oz and it might as well be one of us

Winston Churchill said that democracy is the worst form of government we could possibly have, except for all the others we have tried. This sums up what Nietzsche might say if he discovers that there are no more wizards behind the curtain in the Land of Oz. The next wizard would have to be less bad than the previous ones we had. In other words, any wizard different from previously flawed wizards would suffice. This explains Nietzsche's adversity to the Wizard of old, namely Christianity, and his adversity to the Wizards of his day, namely nihilism, nationalism and anti-semitism. But let's have the man speak for himself:

Nietzsche's methods: His practice of war

“My practice of war is formulated in four principles:
  • ...I only attack causes that are victorious...

  • ...I only attack causes against which I would find no allies, so that I stand alone...

  • ...I never attack persons...

  • ..I only attack things when all personal differences are excluded, when any background of bad experiences is lacking. On the contrary, to attack is to me a proof of goodwill, sometimes even of gratitude...”

This is taken from Ecce Homo, Nietzsche's sarcastic review of his own life and his own works.

Wicked Witch of the
The Wicked Witch of the West. Prime exponent of master morality. One example of perspectivism.

Nietzsche: The Toto of the yellow brick road.

Critics of Nietzsche claim that his philosophy has no purpose and that he is without conviction. This proves to be inaccurate when one considers common themes in his philosophy.
  • The opposition of Apollonian and Dionysian impulses in art: The Greek gods Apollo and Dionysus represent a struggle between order and chaos in art. While they were not rivals in the classical mythology sense, their aspects are thought to be in conflict in works of art. Apollo represents order, stability and harmony. Dionysus represents primal nature, chaos, ecstasy and intoxication. In short, Apollo represents the perspiration and Dionysus represents the inspiration.

  • The will to power: Darwin postulated that only the fittest survive, and evolution is the process of determining which physical characteristics are most desirable to enable the fittest to survive. It is thus the strong that rule the weak. With regards to Schopenhauer's will to live: those with a stronger will to live, survive those with a weaker will to live.

    Nietzsche claimed that the weak rule the strong (the meek shall inherit the earth, as it were), because the process of evolution serves to strengthen the weak and weed out the strong. Nietzsche claimed the will to power overrides even the will for survival. In other words, a will to power could even cause an organism to sacrifice its own life for a cause, thus contradicting that survival in the Darwinian sense is its ultimate cause.

    Recent discoveries in biology such as genetic drift affirm that survival of the fittest only becomes the overwhelming criterion when the survival of a species is threatened. In the absence of immediate threats to survival, genetic drift largely determines physical characteristics. Nietzsche's will to power is an attempt to explain why members of a society carry on growing and establish a hierarchy, despite the absence of a threat to their survival and by extension, despite an apparent purpose. In terms of the Wizard of Oz, each member of Dorothy's company had a different reason for going to see the Wizard, and none of these reasons were survival. Each of them exhibited a will to power.

  • Slave morality and master morality: To Nietzsche, master morality weighs actions according to their consequences. The essence of master morality is nobility. Slave morality weighs actions according to their intentions. The essence of slave morality is utility. Morality in this sense suggests certain codes and norms of a society. Masters of a society establish these norms by considering consequences. Slaves of a society evaluate what the masters establish, in other words they affirm or reject the values established by stronger willed members. Slave morality and master morality are in conflict to create a moral middle ground. Dorothy represents master morality in the Wizard of Oz, and her companions are evaluating her intentions. When they find her motives to be in harmony with theirs, they accompany her on her journey down the yellow brick road.

  • The claim that God is dead: Because of the advent of nihilism, God (capitalised, to indicate the Judeo-Christian conception of god) is dead because He is no longer considered a valid source of objective morality nor a cause of existence. In other words, Dorothy and her friends arrive in the Emerald City and they find that the wizard is an old man behind the curtain pulling levers. The wizard of Oz as they understood it is dead. For all intents and purposes, their god is dead.

  • Radical perspectivism: Nietzsche claimed that all ideas originate from a particular perspective. There are many perspectives, and thus many different truths, but not all truths are equally valid or equally sound. Dorothy's perspective is that the wizard of Oz knows how to send her back to Kansas. The Wicked Witch of the West's perspective is that Dorothy represents a threat to the reign of terror, and Dorothy had to be eliminated. Dorothy's perspective was valid, considering her source of information, but not sound. The Wicked Witch of the West did have a valid and sound argument. From our perspective, she is a Wicked Witch because she interferes with Dorothy's plans to get back to Kansas. From her perspective, Dorothy threatens the moral fibre, because the Munchkins are not hapless slaves any longer.

Munchkins. Prime exponents of slave morality. Übermenschen, not so much.

It is clear that Nietzsche's philosophy did have meaning. To put it succinctly, since Nietzsche's philosophy had meaning, he could not have been a nihilist. For the more elaborate version, see the third part of his series.

Why Nietzsche was not a nihilist and why you are forever trapped in the Wizard of Oz (part one)

This is a three part series. You can find all of the parts here:
  1. Why Nietzsche was not a nihilist and why you are forever trapped in the Wizard of Oz (part one)

  2. Why Nietzsche was not a nihilist and why you are forever trapped in the Wizard of Oz (part two)

  3. Why Nietzsche was not a nihilist and why you are forever trapped in the Wizard of Oz (part three)

A brief outline of nihilism

Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche is the one philosopher whose name is synonymous with nihilism. While there are similarities between nihilism and Nietzsche's philosophy, I do not believe it is accurate to claim that Nietzsche was a nihilist. In order to motivate my viewpoint, we will have to consider brief outlines of both nihilism and the philosophy of Nietzsche. Note that these are working definitions and my citations are mostly from Wikipedia. I am not a philosophy expert.

Picture of Nietzsche
Nietzsche. Strapping young lad. Godless heathen. Nihilist, not so much.

The shocking claims of nihilism: there is no wizard behind the curtain, and even if we had a wizard it means nothing

Nihilism claims that existence itself is meaningless. It follows that there is no purpose to existence. The basic tenets of nihilism are:
  • Objective morality does not exist. One course of action is not preferable over another.

  • Since there is no objective morality, existence has no purpose.

  • There is no credible evidence of supernatural beings. Even if there are supernatural beings, we are not obliged to worship them.

The fact that Nietzsche is credited with the axiom 'God is dead.. and we killed him' is not really helping to separate the wheat from the chaff either. Before we consider Nietzsche's philosophy, we need to consider the inherent problems in the philosophy of nihilism and an outline of Nietzsche's methods, or his raison d'etre if you will.

Inherent problems with the philosophy of nihilism: but there is a land of Oz with a yellow brick road

  • Subjective morality does exist: The lack of objective morality is not reason enough to assume that there is no morality. It is not even reason enough to assume that morality is immoral, but perhaps enough reason to assume that morality is amoral. For instance, it is generally regarded that murder is wrong. This dogma does not point to objective morality, but it is consistent in virtually all cultures, and exceptions to this rule are just that – exceptions to the rule. When Dorothy kills the Wicked Witch of the East, it is reason for mirthful celebration and ponies and rainbows. No Munchkin demands Dorothy's head on a platter. There are exceptions to the rule that murder is wrong, and while it points to a lack of objective morality, it does not indicate complete lack of morality. It indicates subjective morality.

  • Existence is a purpose: 'Existence has no purpose' is an empty statement. This is akin to Dorothy seeing the yellow brick road, but deducing that it disappears over each horizon, and therefore the yellow brick road goes all around the world and ultimately leads back to this exact same spot. What is her purpose then for following the yellow brick road?

    When examining this statement critically, it first needs to be falsified. Nihilists would have to define conditions for existence to have a purpose. Further complications aside, if you define objective morality as the condition and if you fail to prove that objective morality exists, then you could deduce that existence has no purpose. Perhaps this is why a statement like 'god is dead' is so shocking to religious people. To them, god is the ultimate objective gauge of morality. No god means no objective morality. No objective morality means no purpose. Everyone without god (including Nietzsche) must therefore be nihilists, since they do not believe in the ultimate reason for existence of those with a god.

    The axiom that existence has no purpose is fallible. What if the purpose of existence is to realise that existence has no purpose, and the purpose of existence is to overcome this existential crisis? This would mean that existence does have a purpose, which refutes the axiom. To summarise, what if the meaning of life is to give meaning to life? It is thus likely that the wizard of Oz built the Emerald City and established himself as ruler in order to give meaning to his life. While this exercise is ultimately futile, it suggests the notion that any action is better than no action. Nihilism proposes no action, since any action is ultimately futile. The Wizard of Oz proposes that any action has a purpose, if only for its immediate reactions.

  • There is credible, but not conclusive evidence that there are no supernatural beings: In other words, there is not enough evidence to suggest that there is no tribe of flying monkeys. The statement 'there is no credible evidence of supernatural beings' would also have to be falsified. Nihilists would have to define conditions which would indicate evidence of supernatural beings. I for one agree with nihilists, but I can not prove conclusively that there are no supernatural beings. The lack of credible evidence supporting supernatural phenomena is also my main argument, and the natural scientific explanations of most supernatural phenomena to date are my conditions for falsifiability. If flying monkeys have a natural explanation, they aren't supernatural, but it does not mean that flying monkeys do not exist.

Nihilists and religious thinkers thus suffer from the same Achilles heel. Both ultimately rely on supernatural beings as a condition for objective morality. Both rely on objective morality is a requirement for the purpose of existence. Which side does Nietzsche take in this school yard brawl?

20 May 2008

A Field Guide to Zombies

Zombies: hordes of the living dead. Since their origins in Haitian folklore, the phenomenon has taken on a life (or death?) of its own. While early zombie films like White Zombie were true to the Voodoo formula, zombies achieved widespread popularity as a metaphor for herd behaviour.

Night of the Living Dead film poster
Night of the Living Dead, the film that launched the zombie craze.

This is exactly how the legendary George A. Romero orchestrated it with his Night of the Living Dead. Lately, zombie films have become virtually devoid of metaphor – a characteristic lamented by Romero. These films merely postulate a zombie apocalypse at some point in the future, without any social commentary. Zombie films have become nothing but mindless entertainment, albeit with an awful lot of brains.

I Walked With A Zombie

The word zombie has its roots in various languages. The most likely origin is the Kongo word nzambi, meaning the spirit of a dead person. Another candidate is zonbi, a word of Bantu origin, which means a person brought back from the dead without its own free will.

Although zombies were originally the result of Voodoo, most Hollywood films downplay this aspect and highlight a chemical cause of zombies instead.

The Zombie Stomp

In Voodoo, a bokor (Voodoo sorcerer) may revive a dead person, or zombi. This zombi is then a slave to the bokor. Although this might sound too good to be true, bokor actually do this with tetrodoxin, a powerful neurotoxin. Bokor traditionally find tetrodoxin in pufferfish.

Datura plant
Datura, a plant used to maintain the catatonic zombie state. Don't try this at home, kids!

Bokor create zombies with two powders. The first, coup de poudre, consisting mostly of tetrodoxin, creates a near death state in a victim. The second powder contains mainly dissociative drugs which create the catatonic zombie state. Datura is an example of a plant containing these dissociative chemicals (atropine, scopolamine, and hyoscyamine).

Zombie In My Veins

Perhaps due to the religious overtones of Voodoo, Hollywood decided to avoid any occult connotations with zombies. While some early zombie films like Plague of the Zombies still used this traditional Voodoo link, biochemical zombies soon upstaged the occult zombies.

With biochemical zombies, the government is usually somehow responsible for the outbreak. A biochemical zombie plague inevitably results in zombie apocalypse, or at least the impending doom of such an apocalypse. Films of this nature include Return of the Living Dead 3 and 28 Days Later.

Lost Zombies: A Community Generated Zombie Documentary

This a really interesting zombie project. Community generated projects seem to be the future of film.

Find more videos like this on Lost Zombies

Our goal at Lost Zombies is to gather definitive proof that zombies are real and to compile that proof into a feature length documentary film. We are asking the general public to assist us by submitting any proof of zombies they may have. We believe as a community we can educate the world’s population of the reality of zombies and the potential, if not imminent, zombie apocalypse.

Suggested Links

18 May 2008

Giallo: Grindhouse films with Italian style

A typical cover of a giallo novel

Giallo is the Italian word for yellow. As a film genre, it represents the Italian version of American grindhouse films. While American grindhouse mainly enjoys expression by means of exploitation films, the Italians managed to entwine a literary genre too, albeit inspired by American pulp fiction.

From the late 1920s, the Monadori publishing house specialised in horror and crime pulp fiction. This house published cheap suspense novels in response to the rising popularity of American whodunits (who done it? or who did it?). In fact, the first giallo novels were translations of their popular Anglophone counterparts.

These giallo novels appeared with – you guessed it – characteristically yellow covers. Since then, the term giallo became synonymous with intrigue and suspense in Italy.

A poster advertising the Grand Guignol theatre

Besides the popularity of their Anglophone counterpats, giallo novels were inspired by the legacy of the Grand Guignol theatre in Paris. This theatre could best be described as the theatre of the macabre. Since closing its doors in 1962, the term Grand Guignol is often used to describe amoral horror entertainment. Sweeny Todd is a shameless tribute to Grand Guignol theatre, and doubly amoral due to Johnny Depp's spooky singing.

Giallo in Film

Characteristics of Giallo in film include:
  • buckets of blood

  • stylish camera work

  • eerie music

  • gratuitous boob shots

  • staged drama in the vein of Opera

Since these correlate closely with my 10 Commandments of Horror, I am hooked on giallo. In fact, I should probably include eerie music and operatic tragedy as the 11th and 12th commandments of horror.

Giallo sets itself apart from the American grindhouse formula of babes and badasses because it is mostly driven by a whodunit plot. While giallo is not prepared to be upstaged by means of boob shots or buckets of blood, it does have something more compelling than just mere lustful gore.

House by the Cemetery poster, a film by Lucio Fulci

Some giallo directors include Dario Argento, Mario Bava and Lucio Fulci. Mario Bava's film The Girl Who Knew Too Much is regarded as the first popular giallo film. Note the obvious reference to Alfred Hitchcock. Lucio Fulci is more renowned for his inventive zombie films, but he has worked in the giallo genre with films like The House By The Cemetery. Last but not least, Dario Argento.

Dario Argento, the Goremeister of Giallo

The Italian Hitchcock, Dario Argento, is the most famous example of giallo cinema. As a film genre, giallo enjoys influence from:
  • fantasy

  • crime fiction

  • horror fiction

  • eroticism

With films like Suspiria, Argento manages to blend all of the above in a masterly way. Argento likes to reinvent himself, but he is at his best when he does crime fiction. Examples of his genius at work are Sleepless and Deep Red (also known as The Hatchet Murders).

Suspiria, Dario Argento's most famous movie, film poster

For eerie music, Argento often teams up with Enno Moriccone and progressive rock band Goblin. Deep Red in particular stands along with Vampyros Lesbos as exploitation films which are often revered for their brilliant soundtracks.

Suggested links

  • Grand Guignol tribute site, with sick posters.

  • Kinoeye special report on giallo films - brilliant essay.

  • Vault of Horror reports on Dario Argento's first English film in 15 years.

14 May 2008

Human Rights Crisis in Zimbabwe: Bloggers Unite for Human Rights

This is my contribution to the Bloggers Unite for Human Rights initiative. I usually post about fictional horror in the form of horror films, but today I am posting about real-life true story horror.

As a libertarian, I feel that the only legitimate role a government has is protecting the individual rights of its public. This includes its democratic rights.

Zapiro does a brilliant caricature of Robert Mugabe. His dress code is not traditional, but thanks to his indiscretion most of the people are without clothes to wear anyway.

Before things get too morbid, enjoy this comic by South African cartoonist Zapiro. Satire like this is not allowed in Zimbabwe, as the state controls all media. To those who are not Africans, this is not traditional dress code, but thanks to Robert Mugabe most of Zimbabwe can't afford clothes either.

The Hallmarks of Democracy

I personally feel the world would be a much better place once everyone learns to worship me. Most people regard democracy as a better alternative, because it is a system of government "for the people by the people". Since most people are idiots, this amounts to a government for idiots, by idiots. Zimbabwe is a case in point.

For the purpose of this discussion, democracy is characterised by:
  • Organised political parties in competition for government power

  • Free and fair elections

  • Civil and political liberty

Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe claims that Zimbabweans are enjoying a democracy. Judging by the definition above, this claim seems highly unlikely.

Organised political parties in competition for government power

Membership of an opposition party in Zimbabwe, particularly membership or suspected support of the MDC, is effectively a passport to torture.

Even the leader of the MDC, Morgan Tsvangirai, has been beaten by Zanu-PF mobs and had to travel abroad to seek medical attention.

Due to these discretions, Zimbabwe has been described as a one party state. Zimbabwe effectively has no opposition and the ruling Zanu-PF party undermines any competition.

Free and Fair Elections

The international community has questioned the fairness of Zimbabwean elections for quite some time. The mere fact that the government refused to release the election results of March 2008 for nearly a month, is reason enough for concern.

The escalating violence since the 2008 election makes it clear that a free and fair election in Zimbabwe is a myth.

Civil and Political Liberty

The British government has paid restitutions to Zimbabwe for building its economy. Under the leadership of Ian Smith, Zimbabwe became known as the bread basket of Africa. For the first few years of Robert Mugabe's regime, the government continued this success and even achieved one of the highest literacy rates in Africa.

The situation worsened the moment Robert Mugabe started nationalising white-owned farms. This greatly jeopardised civil and political liberty. Many workers were tortured for defending their employers (and by extension their livelihood). Zanu-PF war veterans (many of whom were too young to be in any war in the first place) claim these workers are brainwashed by the white colonialists and that they want to hand leadership of Zimbabwe back to colonial powers.

Since Ian Smith negotiated the independence of Zimbabwe from British rule in the first place, this is just insane.

Such blatant racist persecution resulted in Zimbabwe experiencing an economic meltdown. Zimbabwe is currently experiencing the highest inflation in the world, and nearly the highest inflation of all time. The once bread basket of Africa is now searching for crumbs in the bush.

There is no civil or political liberty in Zimbabwe. One would expect international organisations like NEPAD, SADC or the AU to take action, or at the very least condemning the dictatorship of Robert Mugabe. However, this is not the case. South African president Thabo Mbeki, leader of the SADC, adopted a 'quiet diplomacy', and even went as far as to deny that there is a crisis in Zimbabwe.

He has blocked any kind of international intervention and even criticised international governments when they wanted to discuss Zimbabwe's dire need at the UN. Mbeki sees sanctions as a Western solution to problems, which would be ineffective in Zimbabwe. The irony is that Mbeki supported sanctions against the apartheid regime not so long ago.

This lame duck syndrome has effectively discredited his reputation as head of the largest economy in Africa, both locally and abroad. Despite tarnishing his own image, Zimbabwe is still not getting any better. In fact, indications are that the situation is getting worse.

How the International Community Can Help Zimbabwe

John Prendergast, co-director of the International Crisis Group's Africa Program, proposes the following:
  • Constructive engagement to urge Mugabe and ZANU-PF toward democracy. This would include international monitoring of the Zimbabwean elections and freedom of the press to report on the elections.

  • An active international effort to get ZANU-PF and MDC together for negotiations has so far been unsuccessful. Mugabe refuses to enter into dialogue with just about anyone.

  • Total isolation of Mugabe's government. I think an arms embargo is a good start.

  • Supporting the NEPAD initiative to get African governments to exert pressure on Mugabe and ZANU-PF to stop the political violence against their opponents.

  • Freeze Zimbabwean assets held internationally.

  • Financial and logistical support for anti-Mugabe elements in Zimbabwean society. This could amount to political interference, but it's the lesser of two evils at this point.

Find Out More

11 May 2008

Month of Megadeth: Countdown to Extinction

Countdown to Extinction album cover, Megadeth album cover


After the success of Rust in Peace, Megadeth aims for the number one spot. A calculated balance between radio friendly song structures and a scorching line-up ready for immolation makes Countdown to Extinction one of the few heavy metal records with pop sensibilities that won't make you hurl.

PETA protest I'd rather go naked than wear fur

PETA protesting against the use of fur. Even though I support seal clubbing, I must admit I prefer women without fur. I prefer them naked too.


There's nowhere you can really go after a record like Rust in Peace. Of course, if Megadeth became louder and heavier, nobody would have complained. But Countdown to Extinction is a very good record, despite being lighter than its predecessor.

The 2004 remixed and remastered version features demos for the tracks "Countdown to Exctinction", "Symphony of Destruction" and "Psychotron". In the liner notes, Mustaine claims he felt a certain energy in the studio after about a week of recording. This energy told him that this record is the big one. The demos reveal just how perfectionist they were at this stage. Friedman and Mustaine tracked their guitars through tuners to ensure everything is perfect for the final recording.

Listening to the album, one can't help to notice this clinical perfectionism seeping through each track. Instead of sterilising the record, it helped to highlight the nuances in Megadeth's often complex tracks.

I used to listen to this album on cassette deck. My dad had a cassette of bird calls which was quickly transformed into a second generation copy of Countdown to Extinction. It made our mandatory game drives much more enjoyable for me, despite the fact that I got a hiding and gave my dad a headache.

The CD – now ripped to Megadeth mp3 for convenience – is in a state of pure digital perfection. Listening to it is truly awesome. Like Divine Intervention by Slayer, I can't really be objective about this record because I grew up with it. If you get a hiding for it, or if you get taken to the principal's office for a record, it automatically scores five skulls.

Useless information

  • "Crown of Worms" features lyrics written by Sean Harris of Diamond Head. Mustaine tried to write music in a classic Motorhead style to fit the lyrics. I am grateful that they included this hard to find track on the remixed and remastered version.

  • "Countdown to Extinction" is a song about canned hunting. The track won accolades from PETA and other pussies. Canned hunting is obviously much different than frolicking around in an animal's natural habitat with a hand weapon, so in this case I support PETA's views.

  • "Ashes in Your Mouth" has some of my favourite guitar solos of all time.

  • "Psychotron" is one of several Megadeth tracks about comic book characters. In this case, the topic is Deathlok, the demolisher.

This is part of the month of Megadeth series on the Necro Files. All the posts of the series are listed below:

Track listing

  1. Skin o' My Teeth

  2. Symphony of Destruction

  3. Architecture of Aggression

  4. Foreclosure of a Dream

  5. Sweating Bullets

  6. This Was My Life

  7. Countdown to Extinction

  8. High Speed Dirt

  9. Psychotron

  10. Captive Honour

  11. Ashes in Your Mouth

  12. Crown of Worms

  13. Countdown to Extinction (Demo)

  14. Symphony of Destruction (Demo)

  15. Psychotron (Demo)



five awesome rating skulls top heavy metal albums and horror movies get five skulls in the review

05 May 2008

Month of Megadeth: Rust In Peace

Megadeth Rust in Peace album cover


A masterpiece. All of the Chinese five elements are in perfect harmony, just like with this masterpiece:

Serrana, by guitar prodigy Jason Becker. He took sweep picking - a technique made famous by Yngwie Malmsteen - to a whole new level during his illustrious career.


Rust in Peace reminds me of Taoism. The three jewels of the Tao, namely compassion, moderation and humility, have very little to do with most metal albums. Still, all the forces of the universe seem to be in perfect harmony when you listen to this album.

The truth about the Tao

Tao means path or way. This is the album where Megadeth clearly defined their path and went all the way too. By emphasising the link between people and nature, the need for rules and order is less pressing. Megadeth found a stable line-up for the first time, leading to a better understanding of their world and their surroundings.

Tao also means the flow of the universe, which is only achieved when things are in their natural order. Since So far, so good, so what? struggled to portray Megadeth in their natural order due to frequent line-up changes and more frequent drugs, a change was needed in order to cultivate the Tao.

How to De

De means active living, active cultivation of the Tao. Dave Mustaine did this by going through a 12 step program. Mike Muir of Suicidal Tendencies (don't feel bad if you don't know them, they're not great) once noted that Mustaine lived at the Betty Ford Center. This time, Mustaine was out long enough to cultivate the Tao. Yes, the force is strong with this one.

How to Wu Wei, or how to do by not doing

Wu Wei means action without action. The act of effortless doing managed to let some awesome music flow from these talented musicians.

Leah Dizon Japanese singer and hopefully a fan of the Necro Files

Leah Dizon, the Japanese star. Wa wa wee wee wu wei!

All the tensions of giving up alcohol and other drugs created a less tense environment. Loose enough for Mustaine to allow bassist David Ellefson to contribute some songs.
Loose enough for the band to be like water, flowing with the Tao. Soft enough to move a dried leaf, hard enough to shatter stone.

The truth about P'u, the uncarved block

P'u is the uncarved block. In this case, new drummer Nick Menza and new guitarist Marty Friedman are the uncarved blocks. Marty Friedman needs no introduction as a guitar hero, and his leads are superb. By employing the true nature of their minds, Megadeth becomes stronger without using effort.

Truly, the one album that proves where all the talent in Metallica was hidden. This is the sound of one hand tapping.

Useless information

  • Marty Friedman previously played in Cacophony with guitar prodigy Jason Becker. Their neo-classical feel and synchronised guitar harmonies took heavy metal guitar to a whole new level.

  • Dave Mustaine nearly didn't hire Marty Friedman, because he had too many colours in his hair. I guess a fiery red mane is more metal.

  • Jason Becker later played for David Lee Roth. He became diagnosed with the degenerative disease amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and doctors gave him three years to live. Jason is still alive and well today, enjoying the envy of many guitar heroes and fans despite being in a wheel chair and unable to play guitar any more.

  • "Hangar 18" is one of my favourite songs of all time.

  • The title Rust in Peace refers to an anti-nuclear program bumper sticker Dave Mustaine had read. It supports the notion that nuclear warheads should rust in peace.

This is part of the month of Megadeth series on the Necro Files. All the posts of the series are listed below:

Track listing

  1. Holy Wars… the Punishment Due

  2. Hangar 18

  3. Take No Prisoners

  4. Five Magics

  5. Poison Was the Cure

  6. Lucretia

  7. Tornado of Souls

  8. Dawn Patrol

  9. Rust in Peace... Polaris

Note: The 2004 remixed and remastered version has bonus tracks which I omitted because I do not own that version. You can find the details of those tracks at the All Music Guide review of Rust in Peace.



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03 May 2008

Month of Megadeth: So Far, So Good... So What?

Megadeth So Far, So Good... So What? album cover


Obvious drug fuelled dementia and a failed Sex Pistols cover nearly ruin this album. The band was listening to lots of punk while writing and recording this album, which would explain their lack of work ethic. Not bad, but not great. Recommended for Droogies only.


"502" is the first track on the album that actually sounds like Megadeth really wanted to make this record for anything other than drug money.

Carmen Electra, star of Aerobic Striptease and former Prince lover

Carmen Electra, star of Aerobic Striptease. Megadeth is one of the few bands she has not dated yet. Her DVD does not contain music that matches that of Megadeth, but the video footage is much more entertaining.

"In My Darkest Hour" features music Dave Mustaine wrote in tribute to Cliff Burton, Metallica's fallen warrior. It reveals the tender melodic side of Megadeth, much in the same vein as "Good Mourning/Black Friday" and "My Last Words" from Peace Sells... But Who's Buying?. These tracks follow a similar formula
  • An extended and heartfelt arpeggio melody

  • A sudden entrance of snarling guitars

  • A smooth introduction of Mustaine's manic vocals

  • Double time rhythm with more bite for your bark.

"In My Darkest Hour", and the album in general, differs from Peace Sells... But Who's Buying? in that it doesn't have the distinct jazz/fusion influences.

The stripped-down approach to writing and recording taken is the album's strongest feature, but also its Achilles heel.

The songs are mostly diamonds in the rough. They merely hint at the potential greatness they contain. The humble roots of Megadeth's most popular albums, Rust In Peace and Countdown To Extinction are evident, but this album never quite reaches that level of professionalism.

Useless information

  • "Mary Jane" is not about marijuana. It is about a girl who dabbles in witchcraft, who then asks her father for forgiveness. Her father can't forgive her and she is buried alive as punishment instead.

  • Guitarist Jeff Young is a graduate of the prestigious Musician's Institute, home of Paul Gilbert and other guitar pyrotechnicians.

  • "Hook in Mouth" is about music censorship in America. It refers to the PMRC and George Orwell's 1984.

  • All new Megadeth guitarists since Jeff Young have to go through what Dave Mustaine calls Rock Star 101. This is Mustaine's way of getting them accustomed to wearing ridiculously tight jeans, poodle hair and high-top sneakers.

This is part of the month of Megadeth series on the Necro Files. All the posts of the series are listed below:

Track listing

  1. Into the Lungs of Hell (Instrumental)

  2. Set the World Afire

  3. Anarchy in the U.K.

  4. Mary Jane

  5. 502

  6. In My Darkest Hour

  7. Liar

  8. Hook In Mouth

  9. Into the Lungs of Hell (Paul Lani Mix)

  10. Set the World Afire (Paul Lani Mix)

  11. Mary Jane (Paul Lani Mix)

  12. In My Darkest Hour (Paul Lani Mix)



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01 May 2008

Month of Megadeth: Peace Sells... But Who's Buying?

Megadeth Peace Sells But Who's Buying? album cover


This album rattles the bones in the catacombs of France from start to finish. Megadeth's second album and one of the pillars of thrash metal. The remixed and remastered edition also includes some of the original Randy Burns mixes for 4 tracks. Bitchin'!


This album spews forth a quirky, histrionic bass line followed by a snarling guitar riff and some trademark 'James Hetfield's mother sells socks that smell' leads. This basically sets the premise for the rest of the album. Some glory from the days when each band tried to be faster, louder and meaner than the next while ironically still being friendly enough for MTV.

Image of James Hetfield of Metallica. Megadeth Peace Sells But Who's Buying? Review
James Hetfield of Metallica. Megadeth is still a metal band while Metallica prefers making Dr Phil mockumentaries.

Peace Sells... But Who's Buying? was recorded before frontman David Mustaine became a Christian. The lyrics on this album are blissfully hedonistic, ranging form sex, drugs and Satan to mild political satire and social commentary. Now let that be a lesson to you. For supreme heavy metal, you need
  • sex

  • drugs

  • Satan

On the cover, you will find Megadeth mascot Vic Rattlehead, who sits to the right hand of Iron Maiden's Eddie. Many of my pre-teen doodles featured Vic disembowelling various bastions of the establishment. The building in the background is the United Nations headquarters, portrayed after a nuclear holocaust.

The concept of the album is based on an article that alleged peace is easily achieved, but nobody really wants it. The article was written from the viewpoint that if peace were a product on sale, nobody would buy it. Sounds about right.

Useless information

  • Guitarist Chris Poland and drummer Gar Sameulson were dismissed from Megadeth after The Red Haired One Dave Mustaine noticed lots of Megadeth gear going missing for crack money.

  • Chris and Gar eventually found peace together in jazz/fusion outfit called the New Yorkers.

  • Dave Mustaine was dismissed from Metallica after pouring beer into one of their bass guitars.

This is part of the month of Megadeth series on the Necro Files. All the posts of the series are listed below:

Track listing

  1. Wake Up Dead

  2. The Conjuring

  3. Peace Sells

  4. Devil's Island

  5. Good Mourning/Black Friday

  6. Bad Omen

  7. I Ain't Superstitious (Willie Dixon)

  8. My Last Words

  9. Wake Up Dead (Randy Burns Mix)

  10. The Conjuring (Randy Burns Mix)

  11. Peace Sells (Randy Burns Mix)

  12. Good Mourning/Black Friday (Randy Burns Mix)



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