There comes a time in reviewer’s life when he’s asked to review a band he’s been worshipping all his Heavy metal life, and that moment has come for me. I love and devour Megadeth, and who wouldn’t. There is no denying that Megadeth is an Epic Thrash metal band, be it for their ballistic delivery of rhythm or their wringing guitar solos. “Dystopia” marks the bands 15th thrash metal album which was released under Dave Mustaine’s Tradecraft label via Universal on the 22nd of January 2016. Yes, this review is coming in late but nonetheless is an important one for all of us here at the Metal resource, for it won the 59th Grammy Award for the Best Metal performance this year, in 2017.
Everything has been running late with this album. It was earlier scheduled to be released in early 2015, but the bandmembers faced troubled times and in November 2014, guitarist Chris Broderick and drummer Shawn Drover decided to part ways with the band only to form in “Act of Defiance” later on. David Ellefson confirmed that the band was looking out for replacements, and later confirmed to have Chris Adler (of the Lamb of God fame) on drums and Kiko Loureiro (of the Angra fame) on guitars. “Dystopia” was produced by Frontman Dave Mustaine and Chris Rakestraw, and has guest appearance of country musician Steve Wariner to play the steel guitar parts of the album.
Dave Mustaine stated that the album’s sound would feature a different musical and stylistic approach and which may be influenced with his guest performance alongside the San Diego Symphony. The band has definitely gone more aggressive compared to its 2013 release Super Collider!
The album opens with “The threat is real” which starts off with a haunting middle eastern hymn and chimes, quickly moving on to high powered guitar shreds, and an epic middle eastern scaled guitar solo. The song picks up heaviness with every second, and has Dave and Kiko duelling guitar solos one after the other. Never losing its tempo the song ends luring its listener for more. The title track “Dystopia” is fast and heavy, and the production on it is very balanced, which makes the guitar solos very crisp and clear. All the notes can be heard sharply and doesn’t getting muffled with the rhythm.
“Fatal Illusion” starts off with a slower tempo but retains heaviness as the song progresses. The standalone bass solo on “Fatal Illusion” just sweeps you off your feet. The guitar harmonies and fill in guitar solos every now and then gives the song a punch. “Death from within” retains a slight Middle eastern theme in its intro before pulling you to the heavier side of the song. Lyrically I wasn’t impressed, but let me reassure you, this album is full guitar shreds and everyone here is just for that. Chris Adler makes a strong foundation for all the axe wielders!
A clean and resonant arpeggio intro on the marching drums on “Bullet to the brain” swings your mood, but the chorus somewhat kills it. Kiko’s brilliance is much evident in his guitar solo and has his way again and makes you ecstatic. This has to be the perfect line up post Rust in Peace. “Post American World” takes a slower tempo relying on raw and heavy guitar chugs, makes up an interesting and melodic chorus. The acoustic interlude with a siren ringing in the backdrop gives this song a different direction. And need I say anything about Mustaine and Kiko’s duelling, Again!
“Poisonous shadows” has a beautiful and haunting start, and as the intro guitar solo kicks in you’ve been swept off your feet and elevated to a higher dimension. Dave takes on lower vocal pitch which fits in effortlessly in the song. The thrashing blast beats and blitzing guitar sweeps adds agility to a relatively slower paced song. The song concludes beautifully with Kiko flaring it on the piano. The only instrumental song on the album “Conquer or Die” has a pretty good guitar riff, the eclectic rhythm paves way for a heavier rhythm and stands out to be the platform for our two shredders, leaving no stone unturned and showcase their technical prowess. Megadeth’s take on Fear’s 90s hit song “Foreign Policy” is brilliant and showcases Dave’s love for the Punk Rock Era.
Ah Blast beats!! That’s what comes to my mind as the next song “Lying in state” is queued in. Chris Adler does a tremendous job delivering a solid thrashing and makes this the most thrash song on the album. The blast beats never end (And I mean literally), and what a ride. Loved it! The album ends on a punky and groovy note with “The Emperor (has no clothes)” which feels a little off from the sound of the rest of the album, but at the same time is very refreshing. Dave and Kiko add their magic and close off this brilliant Grammy winning record!
Production – The production on this album is top notch. Dave is a great producer, and I loved how everything on this album was raw and in your face, and this has to be the tightest and the most impressive Megadeth line-up ever and a perfect example why Megadeth is one of the Big Four.
Conclusion – What can I say more than what I haven’t said already, for all the thrash lovers out there wishing to be transported to the good old school days, this is your ticket to that time machine.
Written by: Ankit Sood
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 (Fear cover)
Line up :
Dave Mustaine – Lead vocals, lead, rhythm and acoustic guitars
Kiko Loureiro – Lead, rhythm and acoustic guitars and backing vocals
David Ellefson – Bass guitar and backing vocals
Chris Adler – Drums
Record Label: Tradecraft/Universal, Jan. 2016
Video for: ‘Dystopia’
Video for: ‘Conquer Or Die!’
Video for: ‘Post American World’