Released by: Tradecraft via Universal
Release date: 22 January 2016
Genre: Heavy Metal, Thrash Metal
David Mustaine – Lead Vocals, Lead, Rhythm and Acoustic Guitars
David Ellefson – Bass Guitar and Backing Vocals
Kiko Loureiro – Lead, Rhythm and Acoustic Guitars
Chris Adler – Drums
Steve Wariner – Steel Guitar
Ron Huff – Orchestral Arrangements (Poisonous Shadows)
01. The Threat is Real
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
I’m not sure there is a more polarizing metal band around than Megadeth, and most of that polarization stems from main man Dave Mustaine. He’s never shied away from controversy, whether it is his political and religious beliefs that tend to stray from the accepted norm in entertainment or from his long-running issues with his dismissal from the band Metallica decades ago, fewer bands strike either such dedicated support or utter hatred than Megadeth or the fact that he has the ability to be a raging prick. For me, my love of the band goes as far back as the release of their 2nd album Peace Sells…But Who’s Buying in 1986. From the first moment that tape started, with that hyper aggressive sound, speed metal riffs and solos, and that sneering, sarcastic voice, I knew immediately that I loved them. I quickly managed to get my hands on their brutal debut Killing Is My Business and Business Is Good and fell for it instantly too. I followed the band pretty closely until Cryptic Writings was released and for whatever reason my interest waned (probably had something to do with getting married and wasn’t connected to the Internet yet and just missed out on tons of music during those years.) When 2001 came around and The World Needs A Hero came out and I acquired a copy by accident (thanks Columbia House,) I started rekindling my interest in the band. As we all know during my time away the band (Dave) decided to go in a more commercial direction and though they achieved some decent airplay, they lost a lot of core fans. With TWNAH they returned to a heavier sound. Once I was back in the fold I enjoyed some of the albums, but never loved anything since Youthanasia…until now.
The last two albums, Thirteen and Super Collider, were horrible. There didn’t seem to be any of that old vibe to their songs, and for whatever reason strayed away from their classic metal sound. I like Risk better than either of those two. As my friend Marianne pointed out, there have been a total of 20+ members of Megadeth over the years, and despite so many line-up changes the band more or less stayed true to its sound, minus the last two. Most people assumed that when Broderick and Drover were out in 2014 that they were likely the guilty culprits in the worsening of the music, however those rumors were dispelled (at least as far as I’m concerned) when their debut album as Act of Defiance came out and was heavy as hell. Mustaine and longtime bassist Dave Ellefson had a tremendous task ahead of them finding the right guys to come and and work on an album that would either show that the two Dave’s have indeed lost their steam or the mighty ‘Deth was back. I’m happy to say after listening to Dystopia a few times now, they have more than redeemed themselves.
Is it an Earth shattering return to their more classic thrash metal greatness? Oh yeah, most definitely! Is it anything totally groundbreaking and new? Meh, not so much, but after those last couple of turds I’ll take it. If you haven’t liked anything Megadeth has done ever, or if you are automatically a hater of Dave (whether it be personal or his voice,) then steer clear of this album. Nothing here is going to change your mind. If you have loved everything they have done, even through the bad times, you’ll be most pleased with this one, because there is nothing here that should out and out disappoint. If you’re like me, here are the things you should expect: there are many moments on here that you could imagine the songs being on Rust In Peace or Countdown To Extinction. Many of the songs, riffs, and motifs are that good. There are moments that might feel like forced attempts at capturing those albums big moments, but you can’t really blame him for this. The addition of Lamb of God drummer Chris Adler and Angra guitarist Kiko Loureiro breathe new life into the band, as you can actually feel that metal fire on this album that has been sorely missing. Mustaine even sounds angry again. Detractors will accuse them of rehashing some old concepts, most notably the use of more Arabic type modes and sounds, harkening back to say “Holy Wars…Punishment Due.” I feel that is furthest from the truth, considering that this is a very politically geared album, seeming to focus on the very real war with terrorism the world in involved with. This will surely give more fodder to the haters of this band and man, but so be it. Some folks aren’t happy unless they have something to complain about. My only major gripe with the album is the track “The Emperor,” as it is the closest the album gets to Super Collider territory, so if one song is my only complaint, good job! And it’s not bad, just the one moment on the album I kind of lost interest.
Dystopia is the album many Megadeth fans have been longing for, a return to their old glory. It is not a carbon copy of those earlier albums, but fits in nicely with brilliant moments of Mustaine greatness of the late 80’s early 90’s and putting them on track with the more recent heavier albums. Again, there will be plenty of people chomping at the bit to bash this legendary band, and in particular it’s mastermind Dave Mustaine. I’m pretty sure he’s not going to lose any sleep over the same people hating on him. For long time Megadeth fans, this is a magnificent CD and will likely get many spins from me for years to come.
Written by: Chris Martin
Ratings: Chris 9/10