Album Review: Megadeth - 'Dystopia'

12 February 2016 | 3:03 pm | Staff Writer
Originally Appeared In

Megadeth's return to their roots is everything fans will love.

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Legendary thrash metal icons Megadeth have had their share of ups and downs - some out of their control and some self-imposed (looking at you Mr. Mustaine). Regardless, the Californian outfit still released some of the greatest heavy albums of the 80's/early 90's. Sadly, the band has seen some of their recent work critically dismissed, with their previous release, 'Super Collider', somewhat of a flop with critics and fans alike. However, the metal stalwarts seem to see some retribution with new follow-up, 'Dystopia'.

A menacing, metallic riff introduces the album and immediately showcases the talents of Angra's Kiko Loureiro, Megadeth's new lead guitarist following Chris Broderick's departure from the band in 2014. Additionally, we are also reminded of the tenacious drumming of Lamb of God's Chris Adler, another new (and welcome) addition.

From the get go, one could say 'Dystopia' is more synonymous with Megadeth classics such as 'Rust in Peace' and 'Countdown to Extinction', with fast, chugging guitars and thrashing drums setting the pace. However, that's where the comparisons stop. What was once original in the 80's can only be done so many times. Dave Mustaine's snarling vocals have become almost incessant and worn, and a lack of creativity is revealed in the lyrical content, which mainly revolves around the recurring themes of war, post-apocalyptic futures and even broader controversial topics (see: 'Post American World'). It's much of the same throughout the rest of the album too. Don't get us wrong, there are some solid songs on this record that any Megadeth fan will embrace, such as the title track, which has an unbelievable solo/outro section. Fans should also keep an ear out for 'Bullet to the Brain', a mid-paced chugger that will get you engaged, as well as decent instrumental track 'Conquer or Die' that shows the band's mastery at their instruments.

Instrumentally, 'Dystopia' is a pure showcase of the group's ongoing talent. Despite the occasional recycled riff, the guitars actually hold up quite well, especially when it comes to the solo sections. And, for a pure thrash album, Chris Adler's drumming is quite fitting. Equally, Dave Ellefson's thumping bass is again present, he even gets a few interesting bass solos too. Unfortunately, it's vocally where the album falls flat. For someone who has always had an unconventionally fitting voice, it has gotten to the point where Mustaine's range sometimes distracts from the music.

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While 'Dystopia' is more than enough to satisfy a classic Megadeth fan, it isn't a supplement for their acclaimed albums. 'Dystopia' doesn't really bring anything new to the table, rather it's more of a reminder that Megadeth still can write some semi-decent music. There are no 'Holy Wars' or 'Symphony of Destructions' on here, but it will provide fans with plenty of heavy riffs and headbangs. If you can get past the often hard to digest vocals, and uninspired lyrics, 'Dystopia' is actually quite an enjoyable album.

1. The Threat Is Real

2. Dystopia

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 (FEAR cover)