Tradecraft / Universal, 2016


REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


You would think that after 40-plus years of cranking out heavy metal, Dave Mustaine and Megadeth would have precious little to prove.

Yet on Dystopia, their 15th studio effort—not to mention being the first featuring guitarist Kiko Loureiro and the only one featuring former Lamb of God drummer Chris Adler—Mustaine and crew show that the years have neither softened their acerbic edge nor slowed them down. Coming off what I thought was a strong effort in Super Collider, this disc keeps Megadeth moving in the right direction.

The first thing that grabs the listener’s attention is that Mustaine is quite possibly in the best form vocal-wise of his career. Listen to the smoothness of his vocals on “Death From Within,” and deny that he’s ever sounded better. Mustaine loses none of the power or grit in his vocals on this disc, yet shows that he actually knows how to sing. Similarly, on Megadeth’s cover of Fear’s “Foreign Policy” that closes the album, Mustaine seems to channel an entirely different spirit when performing the song, and his vocal work helps push it over the edge.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

The second standout on Dystopia is the musicianship. Adler might have been an all-too-brief member of the band (or possibly was a hired hand for the album), but his double-bass work helps propel some songs into the stratosphere. Similarly, David Ellefson shows why he could well be one of the most underrated bassists in the genre, as his work on “Fatal Illusion” proves. (As of this writing, Dystopia has proven to be Ellefson’s swansong with Megadeth, having been fired from the band in 2021.) And the guitar interplay between Mustaine and Loureiro? Mustaine has never been a slouch when it comes to finding suitable six-string partners, and he definitely strikes gold again with Loureiro’s addition to the band.

In terms of the songwriting, Dystopia occasionally runs the risk of falling into the trap of several earlier Megadeth discs, in that the music almost becomes indistinguishable to the point of being background noise. However, tracks like “Post American World,” “The Threat Is Real” and “Lying In State” all remind the listener that this is an album that Megadeth all but demands they sit up straight and pay attention to the messages contained therein.

Where Dystopia ends up succeeding the most is in its ability to merge the breakneck world of thrash metal with just enough of a commercial touch to the overall sound—the exact thing that some fans called them to task for on Super Collider, but is handled masterfully this time around. While this disc was definitely not a candidate for potential airplay on your local Top 40 radio station (and at least one song would have sent the FCC into convulsions due to the single use of one forbidden word), there is enough finesse in some of the songwriting that allows the two musical worlds to meld into something unique—and, once again, Megadeth is able to make this marriage work.

Compared to other releases from Megadeth over the previous 15 years or so, Dystopia is one that demands repeated listens before one can truly appreciate how powerful of an album it really is. I’d still be hard-pressed to put it on the same level as discs like Rust In Peace, but it’s pretty damned close to qualifying for that honor.

Rating: B

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 2022 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Tradecraft / Universal, and is used for informational purposes only.