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Articles Home » 2016 Articles » Megadeth - 2016 Dystopia
Megadeth - 2016 Dystopia

ARTIST: Megadeth
ALBUM: Dystopia
LABEL: Tradecraft, T-Boy Records
SERIAL: B0024116-02
YEAR: 2016


LINEUP: Dave Mustaine - lead vocals, guitars * David Ellefson - bass, backing vocals * Kiko Loureiro - guitars, piano (#7) * Chris Adler - drums

Additional Musicians: Steve Wariner - steel guitar * Ronn Huff - orchestral arrangements (#7)

TRACK LISTING: 01 The Threat Is Real * 02 Dystopia * 03 Fatal Illusion * 04 Death From Within * 05 Bullet To The Brain * 06 Post-American World * 07 Poisonous World * 08 Conquer Or Die (instr) * 09 Lying In State * 10 The Emperor * 11 Foregin Policy



Even by Megadeth's faltering standards, 2013's 'Super Collider' was their ultimate nadir. A set of barely tolerable radio filler that was the culmination of two decades of futility following the heights of 'Rust In Peace' and 'Countdown To Extinction.' As is his trademark, Dave Mustaine removed the guitar and drum tandem to resolve this complex issue, both Chris Broderick and Shaun Drover turfed out on their asses like so many before them. An aborted reunion with the classic 'Rust In Peace' lineup (Marty Friedman and Nick Menza) occurred before Mustaine settled on ex-Angra guitarist Kiko Loureiro and Lamb Of God drummer Chris Adler. Naturally Mustaine promised a return to the band's thrash roots, absent since 1990, a promise he's made on every album since at least 1997 and something which can't be taken seriously by anyone at this point. Regardless, anything had to be an improvement on 'Super Collider' and while 'Dystopia' is a return to something resembling normal heaviness, it's not fully fledged thrash or as compelling as Mustaine's heyday, now more than a quarter of a century ago.

The Songs
Stylistically this album seems closest to the aforementioned 1992 'Countdown To Extinction,' an album where Mustaine took his foot off the pedal and maintained the heaviness, but not the speed. 'The Threat Is Real' opens with some convincing chugging riffs and soloing taken from the early 90's, in an obvious attempt to suggest 'we're back (again).' At least there's some intensity back in the mix. The title track builds steam in traditional Megadeth fashion, culminating in a brief thrash blitz at the climax, which recalls 'Hangar 18' all those years back. 'Fatal Illusion' merges about three eras of the band into one track, none of them the commercial periods thankfully. It's a lumbering type of thrash approach, reaching critical mass at the conclusion, but mostly mired in the 'Countdown' mode of 1992. There's a series of shredding riffs which sound miles better than anything the previous lineup tried on numerous tired albums. 'Death From Within' is a routine Megadeth track, melodic but not really going anywhere musically and 'Bullet To The Brain' isn't dissimilar, heavy on 'speed of light' guitar solos, but I don't hear anything I haven't heard dozens of times by other lineups.

Mustaine reverts to his once trademark snarl on 'Post-American World' as he laments the state of the world. Sadly by this point the momentum of the first three tracks is being lost, almost as if a clever deception akin to the recent Def Leppard album. It plods along, not offering much of anything, a boring track. An acoustic intro opens six minute 'Poisonous Shadows' and the introduction of an orchestra instantly brings the recent past of the band into view, which is not good. It's the most radio friendly track by a mile, Mustaine channeling the days of 'Tout Le Monde' or 'Trust'. For whatever reason he just can't let it go. Another acoustic lead starts 'Conquer Or Die' which almost gives me flashbacks to every Iron Maiden track since 1995. It's all instrumental and while it gets heavier inevitably, it doesn't seem to have any goal, just the result of a studio jam you'd assume. What's the point of a mid-paced instrumental anyway? With the album fading fast, 'Living In State' tries to recapture the momentum but falls into the same rut. The riffs are heavy, Mustaine delivers scathing lyrics, yet it's faceless. 'The Emperor' is identical to the last six tracks or so, nothing new to report, complete with another brief thrash snippet at the conclusion, but with zero balls. Mustaine pays tribute to old buddy Lee Ving with a cover of Fear's 'Foreign Policy' to end the album. Naturally it's more sneering and spiteful than Mustaine's originals, leading me to ask why it's so hard for this guy to do it himself. At this point in their career there really isn't any point asking though.

In Summary
Like every Megadeth album since 1994 this is an exercise in frustration. The first three tracks indicate an album to perhaps appreciate, but the disintegration that follows is in keeping with Mustaine's legacy. He seems to be scared of making a true thrash album, he just can't commit to it for whatever reason. You get a tad bit of it on occasion, but it never lasts for more than a few seconds, almost like a tease if you will. I've read some glowing reviews for 'Dystopia' where the reviewers seem to be convinced this album is their heaviest in a long time and proof Mustaine has recaptured his intensity. As a committed listener of this band don't believe a word you hear. Mustaine's fooled us again. [word count 782]

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#1 | gdazegod on March 05 2018 20:27:22
So the title track 'Dystopia' wins a Grammy for best metal performance in 2017. Believe it or not.
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