For MEGADETH, recording new records is no easy feat. Since Dave Mustaine‘s aggressive entry onto the metal scene to rival METALLICA in 1983, the band has soared through the ranks and now is considered one of few colossal acts in metal. Pushing innovation, remaining relevant and remaining on top of the pile is a huge challenge for the MEGADETHs of this world, as new bands push innovation, remaining relevant is becoming increasingly difficult. 2013’s Super Collider led to divided opinions within the metal community, from both the band’s fans and critics alike. Album number 15, Dystopia looks to silence the critics with a rejuvenated lineup. Claiming to fall more under the style of the Peace Sells era has led to huge anticipation but does Dystopia live up to the hype?
Prior to the record’s release, the band released three singles, Fatal Illusion, The Threat Is Real and the very recent title track, giving a slight indication to the direction the record was going. Momentum was absolutely at an all time high with the band hinting at a classic approach to the MEGADETH formula. In fact, the three singles do a fantastic job at establishing the pace one should expect with Dystopia. Fast and heavy. The speed of the record is breakneck, with riffs ferociously fast, yet balancing intricacy in fine fashion. From Fatal Illusion‘s slick and mesmerising riffs to Lying In State‘s absolute thunderous charge, MEGADETH take no prisoners with Dystopia. There are so many moments of utter metal goodness within Dystopia, it showcases Dave Mustaine and co’ at perhaps their very best.
With the band recruiting Chris Adler and Kiko Loureiro to the mix, it’s almost like they injected new life into the band. Chris Adler‘s drumming is absolutely wonderful to hear, with enough rhythm matching the classic MEGADETH sound yet adding his personal touch to inject more power, with the blasts of Bullet To The Brain‘s intoxicating chorus being a stand-out moment. Kiko however, adds a whole new level of musical wizardly that really gives MEGADETH the cutting edge. The sheer amount of solos throughout Dystopia is absolutely jaw-dropping. Mixed with melody, aggression and sheer professionalism, Kiko’s guitar play is incredibly satisfying to listen to. With slick intricate riffs mixed solidly with Mustaine‘s solid rhythm on Death From Within to the isolated musical brilliance on the solo of Bullet To The Brain, the guitar work of Kiko Loureiro really is a sight to behold.
Whilst Dystopia certainly aligns itself to the style of Rust In Peace and Peace Sells, the record is remarkably fresh. The production is simply outstanding, with the balance of all the elements resembling a well-oiled machine, it really allows you to truly appreciate the quality that lies within. And after all this time, it is perhaps surprising just how well Dave Mustaine‘s vocals hold up. His iconic vocal style reigns supreme and delivers on all fronts. There are a few surprises with Dystopia and credit must be given to the band for executing them with such precision it doesn’t disrupt the flow of the record. Poisonous Shadows, the closest track to a ballad, opens with isolated acoustic guitar play before unfolding into a massive intro that rapidly builds anticipation. And then, with the subtle use of keys and female vocal elements, the track unfolds into enormous riffs that chug like a freight train, demonstrating the classic style Dave Mustaine and David Ellefson have spent decades forging. Yet after a huge closure, the soft spoken vocals of Dave Mustaine backed with the isolated use of a piano really raises the hair on the back of the neck.
With The Emperor‘s incredibly catchy chorus, it’s a shame that the inclusion of a cover marks the end of the record. It’s not that MEGADETH‘s cover of Foreign Policy is bad, it’s just ends the record rather abruptly instead of the true epic closure that is deserved.
Dystopia is a record of stupendous heavy metal quality. With enough innovation to keep it fresh, enough utterly monstrous riffs to keep the head banging and enough solos to send your jaw straight to the flaw, MEGADETH have produced one of the best records in their career. It demonstrates the sheer quality of a band that has played such a vital role in the development of heavy metal. We may only be in January, but already we have a contender for album of the year.
Dystopia is set for release on January 22nd via Universal Music.