Megadeth - Dystopia Review

Megadeth - Dystopia
Megadeth - Dystopia. Tradecraft Records

2015 marked the thirtieth anniversary of Megadeth’s landmark debut Killing Is My Business…and Business Is Good! In that time they have launched themselves as one of the most prominent bands in metal. Their founder and leader Dave Mustaine is an incredibly polarizing figure and continues to push Megadeth into the future.

Unlike a lot of their peers, Megadeth does an incredible job of diversifying their sound and are not afraid to push their boundaries as songwriters.

Their latest release Dystopia, the fifteenth of their career, finds them under some heavy scrutiny. Coming off Super Collider, which was criticized heavily by fans and critics alike, they have recently undergone more lineup changes.

With the departure of drummer Shawn Drover (who was behind the kit for ten years) and guitarist Chris Broderick, Mustaine and bassist David Ellefson were left to pick up the pieces once again. After a failed attempt to resurrect the Rust In Peace lineup, they turned to two seasoned musicians.

Newest additions Kiko Loureiro and Chris Adler are no strangers to the scene. Loureiro has been a member of power/progressive stalwarts Angra since their debut and drummer Adler currently shares his duties with powerhouse groove monsters Lamb Of God.

How do the new band members influences affect Dystopia? Are Megadeth able to recapture their former glories? For the last fifteen years their catalog has notoriously known to be inconsistent with moments of genius sprinkled in and every time a new album is released the metal community crosses its fingers.

Dystopia packs a punch and the front half is superb. Opener “The Threat Is Real” harkens back to So Far So Good…So What! With its killer opening riff this is classic Megadeth. The verses balance syncopated riffing, which is right in Adler’s wheelhouse as his accents are amazing. Along with the opening of Endgame’s fantastic “This Day We Fight,” this is the best Megadeth has been in the new millennium.

The title track is reminiscent of Hanger 18 with its straightforward riffing and structure. The guitar playing is insane and it is early on we learn that Loureiro fits alongside Mustaine’s playing flawlessly. This track is a guitar clinic in the making and will instantly leave no doubt that no one else should be playing next to Mustaine. The last two minutes are breathtaking and some of the best playing on any Megadeth record.

Megadeth also convey more modern and hook oriented material to great effect like the infectious “Post American World” which contains a memorable chorus. “Fatal Illusion” is another ripper that brings Megadeth straight into the 21st century. One of the heaviest tracks of their career, it is another excellent example of the virtuoso guitar playing that defines Megadeth’s sound.

The album ends on a fantastic one-two punch of the punk induced “The Emperor” and the cover of Fear’s anthemic “Foreign Policy.” The former features another rousing chorus, as Mustaine vocally sounds inspired and better here than on his last few releases. The cover is kept faithful to the original with an added dose of the excellent musicianship Megadeth displays.

Mustaine can be off putting with his political and religious rhetoric, but if one can look past his diatribes the man is still putting out excellent material.

Dystopia would have been the perfect follow up to Endgame as Super Collider and went down a divergent path.

At this point in the game I am not sure Megadeth can put out a better, more comprehensive album. They will never reach the heights of their first four releases again, but I don’t expect them to.

Dystopia is filled with spectacular guitar playing, brilliant complex riffing and what any fan would want out of a Megadeth release. Mustaine has the perfect band assembled (I cannot praise Loureiro’s contributions enough), so let’s hope there is a period of stability for a while in the Megadeth camp.

(released January 22nd, 2016 on Tradecraft Records)