Sunday, February 28, 2016

Evil Never Dies

Megadeth – Dystopia

Universal – 2016

Muthas, I don’t know if you’ve noticed it, but Megadeth is by far the most prolific of the Big Four™.  Since 2000 they’ve released seven albums, whereas Slayer has put out four, Anthrax has three and Metallica has only managed two. You might not like everything they’ve done, but Dave Mustaine and the bodys shows no signs of stopping their career any time soon.  Which brings us to their newest album, Dystopia, which features one (two?) new band members – Angra’s Kiko Loureiro and Lamb Of God’s Chris Adler (who’s a studio only member or something – he might tour too, whatever.) 

Megadeth’s last album – Super Collider – was an unmitigated disaster that was almost as bad as the atrocious Risk from 1999.  The album was a mess of commercial songs, banjos, fiddles and David Draiman (?!), which stiffed completely at the box office.  I’m not sure what Dave was thinking, but it was a major disappointment for the fans, especially so because it came after a string of good albums. On the plus side, we did learn about Dave’s hatred of model rocketry in the “Super Collider” video. 

Fuck Yo Rocket!

Super Collider was followed by a management shakeup and the exit of both Chris Broderick and Shawn Drover.  There were then rumors that the “classic” lineup of Marty Friedman and Nick Menza would be coming back, but that never came to fruition.  (By the way, that lineup produced exactly one great album and a bunch of good to complete shit albums, so I don’t care if they ever get back together.)  Following this, Kiko and Chris were announced as filling out the vacant slots and recording began.  So how’d it turn out? 

Thankfully, it turned out great with nary a banjo, fiddle or David Draiman anywhere in sight!  Vocally, Dave sounds strong and his old sneering, snotty voice is all over the album.  Junior is solid as always and even gets to show off a bit in some songs.  Kiko and Chris are both good and I think Chris’s drumming adds much needed fire to the compositions.  Lyrically, Dave focuses on corruption, societal disintegration and the illegitimacy of the societal elites.  He’s really full of the old venomous piss and vinegar again.

The album starts with the killer “The Threat Is Real” that features a middle eastern flavored intro before plunging headlong into a thrashy crusher circa Countdown To Extinction. Check out the animated video:

The first single is the blistering “Fatal Illusion” which is pure, old school Megadeth that recalls “Wake Up Dead.”  I would have placed this as the opening track on the album, because this is the type of song that old-school thrashers want to hear and it also ably demonstrates that Megadeth doesn’t take a back seat to anyone in the Big Four™.  Great stuff!

A hallmark of Dystopia is its very catchy choruses the will burrow their way into your brain and live their for a long time.  I was humming the, “Know Know Know” chorus from “Bullet To The Brain” for days after hearing it.   

The drumming is top notch and really stands out when compared to what Shawn Drover was doing.  It’s obvious that Chris Adler was drumming for his favorite band and wanted to put his mark all over the proceedings. Kiko also contributes greatly and actually has co-writing credits on three songs -  “Post American World,” “Poisonous Shadows,” and “Conquer Or Die.” All of them are good with the chugging “Poisonous Shadows” sounding like a long lost track from Countdown To Extinction or Youthenaisa. This cut blends seamlessly with the instrumental “Conquer Or Die” where Kiko gets to strut his stuff from the acoustic flamenco intro to the electrified intricacies on the rest of the song.

Another highlight is the face ripping speedster “Lying In State.” This is vintage Megadeth which would be at home on the mighty Endgame or the classic Rust In Peace.  If you aren’t banging your head at the 2:20 minute mark, you’re most likely dead.

Strangely, I’ve read many reviewers complaining about not liking the chorus from the closing track “Foreign Policy.”  Hey idiots, that’s a cover song by the band Fear, so stop complaining about it.  Maybe Dave’s buddy Lee Ving needed some cash or something to make up for the lack of sales for MD.45.

Hey look!  I bought all this stuff!

Visually, this is probably the best album artwork Megadeth has ever used with the album coming wrapped in a cover that features a cyborg Vic Rattlehead armed with a katana, some drones and a destroyed metropolis burning in the background.  This would make a killer poster for your music room, apocalypse bunker, concert venue or Skynet installation. 

The Bottom Line: Dystopia is the equal of Endgame and is the best thing any of the Big Four™ have done for years.  It’s definitely worth your coin so go buy it!


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