If my math is correct Megadeth are set to release their 15th studio album on January 22nd and guess what? It’s called Dystopia. After a few records that seemed to be done in an effort to promote head scratching, Dave Mustaine and Megadeth came back big with 2009’s Endgame and depending on your opinion of 2013’s Super Collider, has seemingly found their groove. But a lot has changed since then. Longtime drummer Shawn Drover and guitarist Chris Broderick left in somewhat ceremonial fashion as they soon announced they were starting a new project called Act Of Defiance. But when it comes to Megadeth the one thing that is consistent about their lineup is its inconsistency.
Enter guitarist Kiko Loreiro, a Brazilian from the band Angra and Lamb of God drummer Chris Adler. Soon after making it official Dave pronounced Kiko ‘The Best Guitarist He’s Ever Played With!’ Something he’s only done with every guitar player in Megadeth upon joining. Kidding aside the guitar playing draws me to Megadeth. While never short of an opinion I think Dave‘s largely been correct. I felt Broderick was better than Glen Drover who I liked better than Marty Friedman who I liked better than Jeff Young. And anyone familiar with Lamb of God knows Adler was more than an acceptable fit for Megadeth.
After doing two records with Johnny K, Dystopia would be produced by Mustaine. I think the last Megadeth record that may have had questionable production was maybe So Far… So Good… So What… So while I have a lot of love for Johnny K’s work I really don’t know that production is much of a concern. If the songs are good the record will sound good I’m betting. Let’s find out.
It’s good. So good in fact Lars Ulrich is investing in time travel technology hoping to go back to that fateful day and stop his younger self from kicking Dave out of the band. It’s so good doctors are prescribing it to treat erectile dysfunction. It’s so good that God found Megadeth. The opening track “The Threat Is Real” opens with a riff that takes me back to “Last Rites/Loved To Death”, the opening track from their debut record, Killing Is My Business. It took me back so convincingly a Proactiv package showed up in the mail. Are the metaphors helping?
Dave Ellefson had said this record would be approached stylistically different than Super Collider and feature a less radio-friendly sound. Tesla and Edison were friendlier than this record is with radio. Point Megadeth. They may have started out hoping to take a new approach but I think this record is Megadeth at its purist. Political lyrics. Guitar acrobatics. Vocal tracks so snarly you find your face contorting. From the more melodic title track to the Rust In Peace era sounding “Post American World” there isn’t much a Megadeth fan will find himself wanting for.
Standout tracks: “The Threat Is Real”, “Death From Within”, “Post American World” and “Poisonous Shadows”. If there are weak points it would be the song “The Emporer” and while I like the song, “Lying In State” is an unnecessary coda to “Washington Is Next” from 2007’s United Abominations. But if those are shortcomings you probably won’t notice. Or you wouldn’t have. Sorry bout that.
As with any band that has managed to last any length of time, Megadeth has taken some musical detours. Dystopia finds Megadeth right where they belong. Right where you want them. I would stack this record among their best. For me, it’s a cross between Endgame and Rust In Peace. If you’re a fan of the Youthanasia style, Dystopia doesn’t have much for you. But if you like the music from the ‘State of the art speed metal’ variety then you’re going to need a bath after listening to this record. I’m sure there will be Megadeth snobs who will find a reason not to credit this record for the erection in their sweatpants but to them, I say ‘umquam satis.’
Oh, and did I mention that Kiko is probably the best guitarist Megadeth has ever had?
Buy this record. It drops January 22nd.