Review: Megadeth- Dystopia

After the somewhat lackluster response to their 2011 album Thirteen and an even harsher response from the fans to 2013’s Super Collider, Megadeth desperately needed to reconnect with their core fan base by releasing an album that the fans not only deserved, but could get behind. Thankfully, after yet another lineup change, Megadeth mastermind and master of ceremonies Dave Mustaine saw the error of his ways and set about making things right again. So he recruited Angra guitarist Kiko Loureiro and Lamb of God drummer Chris Adler and entered the studio to record what would become the band’s 15th studio album Dystopia for Universal. Dystopia is the album the band absolutely had to make for several reasons and will resonate with fans on so many levels. The first and foremost being the fact that Dystopia is hands down the best thing they have done in a very long time. It’s not just that Dystopia contains stronger songs than its predecessors, which it does and then some. It’s that this new lineup seems to have brought the best out of Mustaine in terms of playing and songwriting. In fact, the band hasn’t sounded this good since the Marty Friedman days. The album was recorded at Latitude South Studios and debuted at #3 on the US Billboard top 200. It was produced by Mustaine and Chris Rakestraw, who also engineered it. It was mixed by Josh Wilbur, mastered by Ted Jensen and like so many Megadeth albums to come before it, features cover art depicting the band’s mascot Vic Rattlehead. Although not a concept album, the songs on Dystopia do tell a story. A story that is beautifully told in the graphic animated videos for opener “The Threat Is Real” and title track “Dystopia,” with one video/song picking up right where the other left off, both circling around our hero Vic and sounding similar to vintage Rust in Peace era Megadeth. Built around the massive rumbling bass lines of David Ellefson and the furious double kick that Chris Adler is pounding out in lethal doses, lead single “Fatal Illusion” and “Lying in State” fall somewhere between “Holy Wars…The Punishment Due” and “Hangar 18.” While “Death from Within” and “Post American World” have more in common with the Countdown To Extinction or Youthanasia albums and deal with some pretty dark subject matter. Like a world without the United States of America in it. Elsewhere, “Bullet to the Brain” recalls the band’s core sound from Peace Sells…But Who’s Buying and showcases some of their most blistering fretwork since their heyday and speaking of scorching solos, by the end of the instrumental “Conquer or Die” your jaws will be on the floor and your minds blown! From a musical standpoint “Poisonous Shadows” is one of the more ambitious pieces Mustaine has ever attempted and sees him stepping outside of his usual comfort zone to incorporate strings and orchestration with epic results, but it may not sit well with those old school fans hoping for a return to their heavier side. For you diehards, Mustaine offers up “The Emperor.” Keeping with the heavy, the album finishes with a punk tinged rendition of Fear’s “Foreign Policy” that would have fit nicely on Killing Is My Business…And Business Is Good and depending on which version you purchase, you could get bonus tracks such as “Me Hate You,” “Look Who’s Talking,” “Last Dying Wish” or “Melt the Ice Away,” which is a Budgie cover. Here’s the bottom line. After two strikes, Dave Mustaine and company swing for the fences and hit a homerun. 8.5 out of 10 -Eric Hunker