Album Review: Megadeth – Dystopia by Chris Akin
More than any other metal band in history, being a hardcore Megadeth fan is truly a rollercoaster ride. This is a band with multiple duds in their catalog, and yet they always seem to rebound. Think about it, they’ve truly had some bad releases in their catalog. RISK was terrible. THE WORLD NEEDS A HERO wasn’t a lot better. And yet, just when many were about to write them off, the bounced back with three straight great releases in THE SYSTEM HAS FAILED, UNITED ABOMINATIONS and ENDGAME. Even THIRTEEN wasn’t terrible, although it did have people wondering if they were falling again. …and they did. SUPERCOLLIDER was pretty lousy, causing fans to once again wonder if this band had finally jumped the proverbial shark.
Surprise! Just when people again thought it was over, Dave Mustaine recruited some new players, refound the fire, and released DYSTOPIA. This album is a monster; arguably the best release from Megadeth since the successful run of albums that followed RUST IN PEACE. Full of rage and fire, DYSTOPIA not only has the old attitude, but so many of the nuances that made Megadeth great in the first place. You need to look no further than “Fatal Illusion” to understand that the vibe from the early days is back and brash as ever.
The key to this release though is, without question, new guitarist Kiko Loureiro. While many will know him from Angra, even Angra fans (of which I’m a very longtime fan personally) had no idea just how great a player this guy truly is. His playing all over this release is brilliant, and at the same time is familiar to what made Megadeth great in the first place. Listening to “Conquer Or Die” which leads into “Lying In State” makes a loud statement that Loureiro is not only a member of this band, but is leading the charge musically with some amazing guitar work. He teams perfectly with Mustaine in very much the same way that Marty Friedman did ions ago.
Megadeth has always been a Dave Mustaine vehicle though, and it’s interesting on DYSTOPIA to hear how he’s adapted his sound without losing anything at all. It’s definitely clear that Mustaine has taken his vocals down slightly. While his voice always had a semblance of evil that gave Megadeth some of it’s punch, sliding his voice down the register has actually made the sound that much meaner. You can’t listen to a song like “Death From Within” without understanding that his sound is a touch different, but the vibe is very much the same.
It’s also impressive hearing drummer Chris Adler add some real balls to the backend of each song. Not that Shawn Drover was a bad drummer (he’s very good, actually), but Adler’s sound is just so big and energized. Being honest, it’s not what I expected. Being a huge fan of his other band Lamb of God, his drumwork on DYSTOPIA is a real change of pace from his known style. He rocks on the album’s best track, “Bullet To The Brain”, and really throughout the entire release.
RATING – 9.5/10 – DYSTOPIA is one of the best Megadeth releases ever. The ride as a Megadeth fan has regained its direction upward with this release. Let’s hope things stay this way for awhile.
Chris Akin is the editor and chief at Pitriff.com, one of metals most influential websites and a frequent contributor to clevelandrockandroll.com