Megadeth – Dystopia (2016)
2016 was not off to a good start for us headbangers with Lemmy Kilmister’s passing, but I am happy and proud to say that this latest Megadeth statement helped jerk me out of my mourning phase.
More than thirty years into their career, Megadeth has managed to craft one of their stronger all-time records. As the excellent cyborg-apocalypse album art shows, the band has its finger on the fear and anger over the state of our world in 2016, with strong, tight, relevant music to match.
The first three songs are the ones that have gotten the most attention thus far, and it’s easy to see why as it shows right away that the new linup (Mr. Kiko Loureiro on lead guitar and Mr. Chris Adler on drums) gels excellently with the Megadeth experience. The requirements for this are well-known by this point: be able to have a quality guitar duel with Mustaine, and master the energetic riff-and-rhythm shifts that make the band’s finest moments so essential.
“The Threat Is Real” has a wondrous Middle Eastern-flavored guitar intro and a high-powered, ending drum break. The title track is the Kiko Loureiro show, with his computer-like tapping standing toe-to-toe with Mustaine’s shredding. Even Dave “Junior” Ellefson gets in on the party with his bass solo spot in “Fatal Illusion.” Make no mistake, the new lineup is here to shred. Taken together, this trio of heavy hitters is one of the overall “best starts” to a Megadeth album.
1. The Threat Is Real
3. Fatal Illusion
4. Death From Within
5. Bullet to the Brain
6. Post American World
7. Poisonous Shadows
8. Conquer or Die!
9. Lying In State
10. The Emperor
11. Foreign Policy
Mustaine’s vocals are deeper, more intense, and meaner–no doubt he is pissed off. Occasionally with the harmonization, his vocals sound cyborg-like, as though he is snarling through Vic Rattlehead’s new helmet. His lyrics shrink not from political topics–his frightful, dystopian vision of the future illustrated in “Post American World” features one of the best guitar duels on the record, and a splashy, energetic drum performance to back up the simpler riffing.
“There’s creeping hate if you resist the false narrative/Crushing all the dissenters who still think for themselves,” he preaches.
He continues the verbal assault on those in power with “Lying In State” and “The Emperor,” reminding us of the classic tale of the emperor having no clothes, and wondering how future, undoubtedly more-enlightened generations will portray us. No matter who is in charge, Mustaine can always be counted on to call them out somehow. But even these songs are not mere vehicles for a political scree: “Lying In State” features a killer riff outro, and “The Emperor” wails along with catchy string bends reminiscent of an air-raid siren…
Remain calm, citizen. There is nothing to see here…
The band is once again all about the thrash for the most part. Exceptions are parts of “Post American World,” which has a quasi-ballad pace for half of the song, touched up with piano and strings, and the flamenco-tap intro on “Conquer or Die!” The latter instrumental quickly winds itself up into yet another thrilling guitar battle. And as a finale, Dave reaches all the way back to his hardcore-punk roots for a cover of Fear’s “Foreign Policy,” a forceful, intense quickie that is my “other” favorite track on Dystopia.
The dark-comic backstory of Dystopia (including the origins of the cover art) also gets filled in from the music videos filmed for the album and shown on tour, so be sure to catch it if you want the full-body immersion! No matter what devastating losses may come to its musicians and fans, these will not stop metal’s boldest from soldiering ever onward. My hat is absolutely off to MegaDave and this fantastic new lineup for reminding me of this truth. Dystopia is the first metal masterpiece of 2016.
Dave “Junior” Ellefson
Written by Matt PRead More...