By: Phil Weller
Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 22/01/2016
Label: Universal Music |
Tradecraft | T-Boy Records
This line-up has introduced itself with a battering ram of thrash utopia; the riffs, the fury and the sizzling lead playing present here stands toe-to-toe with the bands best 21st century output. It’s a record which accentuates the bands relevancy in 2016. Masters of their trade just listen to ‘Lying In State’ and tell me they can’t smash shit up with the best of them. They continue to release music and make the effort to give more content for their fans to consume. Not many other bands their age can say that.
“Dystopia” CD//DD//LP track listing:
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
The glory days of thrash were some thirty odd years ago now and a lot has changed since. As a genre, it is still much loved and its sound is present in a veritable horde of bands, be it in blatant or more subtle guises, but the thrash hierarchy that, through their prowess helped the movement flourish, are going about things differently nowadays. Despite a lack of creative activity from other camps however, Megadeth remain consistent, churning out a new album every couple of years. Even if those records aren’t sensational – and there have been a few blunders – Mustaine’s desire to keep the ball rolling must be admired and once more we see a new Megadeth line-up, a new Megadeth chapter beginning – the ever outspoken Mustaine is keeping things fresh, even if it wasn’t particularly out of choice this time around. The latest additions to Megadeth royal court are injecting a fresh impetus into its creative division and as such, ‘Dystopia’ is benefitting greatly.
From a business perspective it is clever; from a fan perspective the new look band is tantalising. While many will be sad to see the departure of Chris Broderick and Shawn Drover, the additions of Kiko Loureiro and Lamb of God’s hugely lauded sticksman Chris Adler is one which has metalheads salivating and eager to hear the fruits of their labour.
So does ‘Dystopia’ lead up to the huge levels of expectation and intrigue? In short, yes – the trademark Megadave sound is omnipresent and venomous. There are no reminders of the more radio friendly focus of the last couple of albums, instead reigniting their viciousness and reminding the world just how fucking brilliant this band can be.
The album’s title is far from misleading, with a dark, uneasy dystopian grit marring its atmosphere; something most brazenly done on ‘Post American World’. Think ‘Gears of War’ style grit and harshly delivered lyricisms, with sweeping broken chord progressions and devastating, almost apocalyptic soloing from our star of the show. In fact, much of the album brings to mind ‘Gears of War’s’ parent album, ‘United Abominations’: It’s very much a modern Megadeth album where full speed, whiplash inducing thrash songs are few in numbers but the riff work they do produce is still garish and the overall presence of the songs are towering and hefty, dictated by Mustaine’s political agenda and a real punk founded ‘fuck you’ attitude.
The title track meanwhile, is a more melodically focussed track that typifies both Mustaine’s guitar playing and vocal execution. Alongside the flare and aplomb of Kiko’s lead playing it is a song – later punctuated by the rattling grooves which underpin a rapturous solos section – that sounds, not just resolutely like Megadeth, but an inspired Megadeth firing on all cylinders. There’s even a whiff of ‘Tornado of Souls’ in the harmony lavished outro where drummer Chris Adler really shifts through the gears.
‘Death From Within’ provides a typical Megadeth throttling, revolving around Mustaine’s roared chorus while ‘Bullet To The Brain’ is one of those pump-your-fists-in-the-air kind of headbang anthems that takes absolutely no prisoners. Kiko’s lead playing once more on the latter, the dynamic which sparkles brightly on what is Megadeth’s most solid release since the impenetrable ‘Endgame’, is simply outstanding. His notes bleed through his finger tips and, with a pinpoint accuracy, race for your emotions, searing them like a child does to toy soldiers with a magnifying glass in the sun.
‘Poisonous Shadows’ bares a symphonic edge, tilted in shadows while the Kiko-driven instrumental, ‘Conquer…Or Die’ which follows together stand as two songs which really define a new era of Megadeth – perhaps ‘The Emperor” too should be mentioned here. Megadeth go pop punk and pull it off brilliantly. Fun and joyous, it helps add a new dimension to the album. And that’s the thing. Re-definition is exactly what this album had to be about. This line-up has introduced itself with a battering ram of thrash utopia; the riffs, the fury and the sizzling lead playing present here stands toe-to-toe with the bands best 21st century output. How long they will stay together is a mystery as of yet – will Adler stick around or is this a one-off vanity project for him? We are basking in a honeymoon period but what a period it is – ‘Dystopia’ delivers with a clinical precision.
It’s a record which accentuates the bands relevancy in 2016. Masters of their trade just listen to ‘Lying In State’ and tell me they can’t smash shit up with the best of them. They continue to release music and make the effort to give more content for their fans to consume. Not many other bands their age can say that.