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Megadeth Dystopia

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01. The Threat Is Real 02. Dystopia 03. Fatal Illusion 04. Death From Within 05. Bullet To The Brain 06. Post American World 07. Poisonous Shadows 08. Conquer Or Die 09. Lying In State 10. The Emperor 11. Foreign Policy (Fear cover)
2016 Universal Music Group
Our score 7

by Daniel Marsicano
2/22/2016

Megadeth had to come up with Dystopia, whether they'd ever freely admit it or not. The complacency that hovered over the group after the excellent Endgame came to a head on Super Collider, an absolutely messy record with a cover of Thin Lizzy's "Cold Sweat" as one of its highlights (perhaps the only highlight). Megadeth had to embrace the thrash to win back fans who were filing out in waves. Dystopia isn't the first time they've switched sonic course. They did it back in the early 2000's with The World Needs a Hero, after almost everyone scoffed at the ill-advised Risk. People didn't want an industrial/alt rock approach from a band that put out the revolutionary Rust in Peace, though most of those people didn't mind when the group streamlined their metal sound with Youthanasia and Cryptic Writings. Regardless, unlike the shaky The World Needs a Hero, Dystopia does much better with the incorporation of thrash-y content. That may have to do with the new lineup in place, as guitarist Chris Broderick and drummer Shawn Drover are replaced by Angra's Kiko Loureiro and Lamb of God's Chris Adler, respectively. Though there was hope for a reunion of the Rust in Peace lineup, the musicians frontman Dave Mustaine got together for this album give it an unchecked, manic energy. The band hasn't sounded this confrontational and angry in years, and there's a stinging bitterness behind every word Mustaine spits out. It's no secret that Mustaine is a controversial figure; every interview he participates in being a conduit to his opinionated views on everything from government to religion to music to whatever pops in his head. The lyrics have an antagonistic backing to them, and his views on America may not fall in line with the feelings of some listeners. It may be enough to send them away, but it's important to note that he's been this way for decades. The outright political bluntness on a track like "Post American World" is not an approach implemented on every song, though it's a common enough occurrence. "Poisonous Shadows" deviates into ballad-like territory, though it doesn't get cheesy like "Promises" did on The World Needs a Hero. A tasteful piano outro and occasional orchestral/female vocals give heft to Mustaine's pain. It's a fine track, though its placement in the middle of the album is suspect; it would have worked better as a closer. Whatever flaws there are can't be attributed to the new members, as they fit soundly into the whole Megadeth puzzle. Broderick was a fine guitarist, but Loureiro gets headway to rip out trippy solos on every song. Adler infuses the rhythm section with a charge that Drover failed to do at any point in his decade-plus stint. The biggest complaint from an instrumental front is how inconsequential longtime bassist David Ellefson is. To be fair, he gets a fantastic lead break on "Fatal Illusion," but aside from that wonderful spot, he's relegated to mimicking the rhythm guitar. One of the things that Megadeth has suffered from with their recent albums is consistency. There's always a few gems, but the duds aren't hard to spot. Dystopia is pretty solid the whole way through, and even when it isn't (the lifeless instrumental "Conquer or Die" and goofy lyrics on "The Emperor"), it's never a major detriment. Their renditions of Fear's "Foreign Policy" and Budgie's "Melt the Ice Away" (the latter a bonus track available on Spotify) are fantastic, giving both covers a metal edge that crystallizes an urgent vibe. To Mustaine's credit, he didn't take the obvious route and bring guitarist Marty Friedman and drummer Nick Menza back in an attempt to reignite the glory days. He decided to take the chance and reinvent Megadeth for what seems like the hundredth time. Dystopia will bring goodwill back to the group. It's not the next Peace Sells... but Who's Buying? or Rust in Peace, but it's much better than anything they've released during the past decade. Bottom Line: A new era for Megadeth ushers in a return to a thrash direction, which works better for them than their last few tepid albums.

3 comments

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anonymous 2/22/2016 2:06:17 PM

gasp a 7. what a f*cking surprise.


anonymous 2/22/2016 7:27:01 PM

Album of the Year. Great return to form


anonymous 4/1/2016 1:44:11 PM

Yet their review matches the average user review. Hmmm