Oh boy. Another Megadeth release, and you may be thinking “not again”. After such tragedies as Super Collider in 2013 and Th1rt3en in 2011, in addition to two longtime members leaving the band and lead singer Dave Mustaine’s personal issues, one may have thought the once great metal band was fading into obscurity. While Dystopia is certainly not a masterpiece, it puts Megadeth back on solid footing for the future and will be a sigh of relief for many fans.
Following the departure of longtime drummer Shawn Drover and all-star guitarist Chris Broderick, Megadeth had fallen to an all time low. They were dangerously close to becoming parodies of themselves and falling off the musical map with their atrocious recent releases. However, new and dazzling Brazilian guitarist Kiko Loureiro and Lamb of God drummer Chris Adler added a revitalizing boost to the band’s dwindling existence.
The addition of these two was a godsend as they added a new flair to the band to help counteract Mustaine’s tired and worn out style. Adler’s double bass and fills are wild as ever and especially noticeable in tracks such as “Poisonous Shadows” and the “Symphony of Destruction” sounding “Post American World”. Loureiro’s guitar steals the show, however, with fantastic solos in nearly every song with the standout being an acoustic, Spanish-inspired intro leading into the instrumental “Conquer or Die”.
Nevertheless, this album can’t overcome the typical Megadeth problems such as the obvious one: Mustaine’s voice. Where Dystopia succeeds in this respect is curtailing back his nasally, monotone growls into more of a background sound, which is certainly a welcome change. Mustaine does still retain that same hatred of institutions and politics, and that really comes through with his vicious growls. However, his singing is very one dimensional and makes all the songs seem a bit flat despite the occasional snarling of obscenities as in “The Emperor” where he grunts, “Because you make me sick / You prick… You know I’d like your face / To kick”. It’s laughable yet enjoyable, as it reminds us of the furious and controversial Megadeth that once was.
Speaking of which, this album does do a better job of recapturing the snarling and angry thrash sound of their early work like Peace Sells…But Who’s Buying, especially in songs like “Fatal Illusion” and “Lying in State”. However, it’s very hard to ignore the inundation of politically themed lyrics and by the end you are left with a more than plentiful serving of not-so-subtle political moaning.
This album does have some bright spots however, and most importantly, establishes Megadeth as a band that’s not out of the race yet. While it’s a decent comeback effort Dystopia is nothing close to recent comeback triumphs like last year’s Purple from Baroness, or 2013’s The Next Day from David Bowie, however that doesn’t mean it’s a flop. It will be a welcome sound for lifelong Megadeth fans as well as a good introduction into this year’s metal that will hopefully reveal to be as pleasing as expected.