Megadeth – Dystopia (2016)

Release: January 22, 2016

Lineup: Dave Mustaine – Vocals/Guitar, Kiko Loureiro – Guitar, David Ellefson – Bass, Chris Adler – Drums

Producer(s): Dave Mustaine and Chris Rakestraw

It has been a little over two years since Megadeth graced us with “Risk (part 2)” a.k.a. “Super Collider.” In that time, we’ve seen Megadeth undergo yet another lineup change. Lead guitarist Chris Broderick and metronome with a pulse Shawn Drover departed in 2014 to form their own pseudo-thrash outfit. This was followed by rumors of a “Rust in Peace” reunion, a prospect that I was less than thrilled by. It was three quarters of the “Rust in Peace” lineup that birthed “Risk” after all. Fortunately, that was undone by Menza drama. In the end, the lead guitar and drum spots went to Angra’s Kiko Loureiro and Lamb of God’s Chris Adler respectively. So, how did the album turn out? The songs are heavy and tight, a welcome change from the band’s previous outing. Some of the tracks eschew the standard pop song structure in favour of a linear structure with multiple parts. Kiko’s lead work is technical and melodic, but doesn’t lapse into musical garishness like Chris Broderick’s work had a tendency to do. Adler’s drumming is a welcome change as well. He is tight and always on point, but doesn’t lapse into the robotic territory of Mr. Drover. It also sounds like he was made to use a larger diameter snare drum, so no soup can-like clank. Songs like “Dystopia,” “Fatal Illusion,” and “Post American World” definitely call to mind the band’s late 80s/early 90s heyday. Unfortunately, this is often to the album’s detriment. The title track, structurally and rhythmically (sometimes melodically), is almost identical to “Hangar 18.” “Fatal Illusion” is, in some ways, too similar to “Bad Omen” and “Black Friday.” The outro riff on “Post American World” is way too similar to the outro of “This Was My Life.” This is not to say that they are bad songs, this is the best Megadeth have sounded since “Endgame.” The problem is that if you have been a fan for a long time, these tracks only really serve to satiate a sense of nostalgia that would be better sated by listening to “Rust in Peace.” The real standout tracks on this record are the rolling, uptempo “Lying in State” with its fast-paced triplet rythms, and the bombastic, mid tempo “Poisonous Shadows” which finds the band messing with some primitive string arrangements and sounding like a crunchier version of Rainbow. Lyrically, it’s a Megadeth record, so you know what to expect, which is lots of political rants and half baked conspiracy theory. Dave’s vocal delivery seems a little less shrill than usual though. All in all, this is a pretty standard “return to form” type of album. It doesn’t break any new ground, some of it sounds a little too familiar, but it’s a step in the right direction over the previous record.

Key Songs: Lying in State, Poisonous Shadows, Conquer or Die

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