Another Welcome Return To Form
You’ll sit down for a breather after your first play through of Dystopia and really and truly come to a point where you just cannot work it out anymore with Megadeth. Whether any of them like it or not, whenever any of the ‘Big Four’ release a new record, it is greeted with more caution than excitement - it is up to them whether they’re able to spit that back in everyone’s face. The last record Megadeth released was the relatively disastrous Supercollider, which after the success and apparent return to form with Thirteen and Endgame came as a bit of a shock. The creeping doubts over Mustaine and co. began to bloom once again but wow have they impaled them with this new record. Mustaine is clever when it comes to Megadeth releases - when something doesn’t work out you’ll often see an exodus of members and a regenerated, and rejuvenated, line up taking up their place. After Supercollider we’ve seen both Chris Broderick and drummer Shawn Drover depart from the band, with Mustaine looking to guitarist Kiko Loureiro and Lamb Of God’s Chris Adler taking up duties behind the kit. The line up shift has certainly paid off because Dystopia will definitely go down as one of the better Megadeth records.
A lot of the issues with Supercollider was the fact that as a record it just didn’t contain the level of venom and spite you want from a Megadeth album. It felt like a very ‘safe’ release from a band who had perhaps become too comfortable with their current situation. With Dystopia there is an erratic underlying tone to it which makes it really feel like a record which has pushed Mustaine and the rest of the band back to the limit. In Metal and the wider Heavy Music world, there are few guitarists who can deliver on the kind of level in which Dave Mustaine does and throughout Dystopia his effortless ability to transition between one intricate riff to the next shows absolutely no signs of slowing down. You’ll finish listening to opener The Threat Is Real alongside the title track and you’ll almost be punching the air in delight that this is THAT kind of Megadeth album.
There is no doubt that alongside the reliable musicianship between Mustaine and Ellefson, the introduction of Chris Adler on the drums was a genius move. He is easily one of the most exciting drummers in all of Heavy Music, and whilst the music isn’t the same kind of groove you get with Lamb Of God, his powerful performance and brilliantly subtle touches throughout the record just elevates everything, most notably on tracks like Post American World and Lying In State. At times on the record he really drives everything on, providing probably the best drumming performance within Megadeth since Nick Menza was in the band.
With Dystopia Megadeth have produced a record which has the potential to both reach out to older fans and new at the same time. Similar to when the band unleashed Endgame back in 2009, they’ve written an album which just delivers throughout. You’ve got Mustaine at his commanding, snarling best, Ellefson sounding dominant, Adler raising everyone’s game and Kiko Loureiro delivering a career affirming performance. This review has read like a reassurance piece, that’s because Dystopia was one of the most reassuring pieces of music we’ve ever heard. In the game of 'Hit and Miss' roulette between the Big Four bands, this one can very much go down as an absolute hit.