Megadeth – “Dystopia” (Universal Music / Tradecraft / T-Boy Records)
Dystopia. It sounds like the opposite to utopia. That of a dark, fucked up world along the lines of “Planet Of The Apes” (Heston version naturally) or even the utterly insane “Twelve Monkeys” – along with the technological terror of “Minority Report”! In some ways that’s how Megadeth, one of thrash metal’s greatest pillars from the mid 80s have been in recent years. From mainman Dave Mustaine’s spinal surgery to family losses to the departure of drummer Shawn Drover and guitarist Chris Broderick, Megadeth seemed to be on the ropes, prompting many to ask if the band would even continue. Well, anyone who knows this band – and I’m talking about those of us who go all the way back to “Killing Is My Business…” – know that Mustaine has been a fighting underdog right from his days in Metallica so even if he’s now a born again Christian, chances are he’s still waiting to deck you, either with his wildly talented musicianship or his razor sharp sardonic wit! Recruiting Angra guitarist Kiko Loureiro and Lamb of God drummer Chris Adler, both more fans than conspiring musicians, Megadeth might be less of a band democracy these days but hey, it’s always been Dave (Mustaine)’s baby anyway!! With plenty of real world dystopia to go around these days and Mustaine getting more cynical with age, this fifteenth studio album is nothing short of genius – put it this way, it’s got the ‘deth trademark sound, heaps of political sarcasm – but what really rocked it for me was that it really takes me back to “Peace Sells…” or even “Rust In Peace”. I mean, it’s fucking raging man, heavy on the guitars with a match in speed as well as technical virtuosity (guess Mustaine knows what power metal is all about now ha ha) as well as the monster groove rhythms that used to get us all air punching and headbanging like no tomorrow while taking in all those cynical lyrics. Don’t even talk to me about the solos – right out there man, back to the days of Chris Poland – totally insane yet not a replica with plenty of soulful melodies and that unmistakable neo classical Latin sound that Kiko has brought with him – along with some tasteful Spanish guitar intro’ing the darkness of ‘Poisonous Shadows’. Ellefson’s in there too, with his bass crunches prominent in the upfront mix and when his rhythm gets together with Adler’s pulverizing double bass drumming, this is the first Megadeth line up that delivers true to the band’s megaton name in style. Never possessed by the greatest of vocals, Dave’s now deeper and gruffer style complement the new ‘deth sound as if surgically crafted to do so on classic made for ‘deth songs like ‘The Threat Is Real’, ‘Fatal Illusion’ and ‘Bullet To The Brain’ – the titles say it all that the true fan’s Megadeth is back, complete with all the sass in ‘The Emperor’ and the old school mosh out to Fear’s ‘Foreign Policy’. All in all a very, very astute move by Dave (and Dave) to bring classic Megadeth into the best of the new metal world. And it is anything but a dystopia.