I’m a little late in the game for this Megadeth review, but hey, I had a busy January. For years, it Megadeth fans have been longing for a return to the band’s glory days, when they were a defining force in the surge of thrash metal. They’ve shown signs of returning briefly on efforts such as 2011’s Thirteen and it’s 2009 predecessor Endgame, but I think their venture in to traditional heavy metal with 2013’s Super Collider simmered any hope that the once supreme thrash gods were still in there somewhere. Well, after a very public line up change, Megadeth return with Dystopia.
One thing that hasn’t changed is the amount of publicity and attention the release of Dystopia got. All of Megadeth‘s recent albums that I can think of (except maybe for Endgame) have had a lot of anticipation leading up to their releases, based on media hype and all that stuff, but mostly thanks to interviews conducted by band leader Dave Mustaine. None, however, have had more anticipation from metal fans in recent years as Dystopia has, thanks to the aforementioned line up change. Plus the fact that Dystopia comes a few years after the disappointment that was Super Collider (an album I actually quite like, if not as a Megadeth album then as a solid heavy metal album; read my review of it here) just adds fuel to the fire.
The title track to Dystopia is what I’ve been hearing on the radio quite often. First I’d like to note that it’s great to hear a new Megadeth song on the radio played frequently. I can’t think of any recent Megadeth albums that have had a song played on the radio as much as Dystopia has. I’d also like to speak of how great a choice it was to put this song above all else on the radio. While it has radio friendly hooks to it, it’s as ruthless a metal track as fans have hoped this album would feature. It also has some of the best guitar solos I’ve heard on a Megadeth song in quite some time thanks to newcomer Kiko Loureiro. Dystopia is the second track on the album that shares it’s name, but it eclipses opening track The Threat Is Real. This opening track is heavy and introduces the album well by showing Dave Mustaine stuck to his promise of making a ferocious album, but compared to the rest of the album, it doesn’t do as much for me as most of the other tracks do.
Most of Dystopia‘s tracks, including the title track, stand out well. Post American World reminds me of a newer and less radio friendly Symphony of Destruction thanks to its smart simplicity, but all bets are off when its breakdown takes a dark acoustic turn before transforming into another onslaught of a guitar solo. The six minute epic Poisonous Shadows only adds to the uniqueness of Dystopia, with a minute-and-a-half intro that serves as one of the best intros to a Megadeth song since Rust In Peace‘s Poison Was The Cure. Without disrespecting Shawn Drover (who likely could have played this song similarly as progressively) Chris Adler‘s experienced drum work comes in to play quite nicely on Poisonous Shadows. Lying In State is the heaviest track on the album, and the heaviness doesn’t take away from how dynamic the song is musically.
The guitar solos are really what steal the show on the album. Both Kiko and Dave put forth some great solos on the album. Dave sticks to his hard hitting fast playing that only people who lived the California thrash scene in the 80s could properly play. His shining moment really comes on Bullet to the Brain. Kiko is a much more technical player. I think of Kiko Loureiro as a hybrid of Megadeth‘s two most recent guitarists. Glen Drover used his time with Megadeth to show how technically savvy he was with six strings, which Chris Broderick just shredded the hell out of his instrument. Kiko can cut through steel with how he shreds the guitar, but he adds a technical element that Chris just never could, which is the recipe for the fantastic solos heard throughout Dystopia. Such incredible musicality helps make the album’s instrumental Conquer Or Die great to listen to. Megadeth have some great instrumentals under their belt. So great that I don’t think Conquer Or Die trumps them, but that doesn’t take away from how entertaining its entire three-and-a-half minute time frame is.
Dystopia‘s tracks aren’t hit or miss. Even the few tracks that I don’t consider to be essential tracks, like the opening track The Threat Is Real or Fatal Illusion and Death From Within, are still the kinds of great metal tracks that Megadeth fans were likely hoping for. An argument could be made for The Emperor, which has a loud and clear message but in a bit of a corny way (it basically seems to be a song about The Emperor’s New Clothes) but still manages to keep my head moving. The closing track, a cover of the Fear song Foreign Policy doesn’t sound out of place either. In fact, it also serves as somewhat of a standout track.
I have no true complaints about anything Megadeth has released since their mini-hiatus in the early 2000s. In fact some of these albums (most specifically United Abominations) are some of my favourite albums the band has released, but there’s no denying that most of them have missed something special from the early days. Dystopia isn’t a complete return to Megadeth’s heyday, nor do I really think it should be because bands should long to evolve rather than stay the same, but this is an evolutionary step that the band has needed so badly to take in recent years. It has the aggression of the earliest Megadeth albums, from back when Dave Mustaine was an angry young man, but it takes a page out of modern metal to keep Megadeth from being another old band still trying and failing to be relevant. Dystopia is not only a terrific Megadeth album, it’s a terrific heavy metal album.
Thanks for reading!
“Dystopia” – It’s the song I find myself playing on repeat over and over, and I don’t feel I’m getting tired of it yet. Despite all the other fantastic tracks on the album, Dystopia‘s title track is one of the best Megadeth songs written in years.
9.5 (Out of 10)
|1.||“The Threat Is Real”||4:22|
|4.||“Death from Within”||4:48|
|5.||“Bullet to the Brain”||4:29|
|6.||“Post American World”||4:25|
|8.||“Conquer or Die!”||3:33|
|9.||“Lying in State”||3:34|