Megadeth’s ‘Dystopia’ album proves an explosive success

Megadeth's 'Dystopia' album proves an explosive success

As far as big names go in the heavy metal circles, few stand out like Megadeth. They previously released their 15th studio production ominously labelled “Dystopia.” Released January 22, this album is a forward step for both the band and the genre with fine displays of raw riffage and augmenting orchestration. These are featured along the growling, political vocals of Dave Mustaine and thundering drums of Chris Adler, who replaced previous drummer Shawn Drover for this record. This is a huge step-up from Megadeth’s rather disappointing previous album, “Super Collider,” released in 2013.

“Dystopia” is a collection of tracks with explosive guitar, both frantic and melodic, ominous drums and politically charged lyrics. The instruments complement each other nicely, marching the tracks on and providing substance to the ominous lyrics relating to betrayal, danger and inferiority.

One track that is a strong representative of the album is the opening track “The Threat Is Real.” It opens with female choir chanting, which directly leads into fast-paced guitar. The lyrics deal with cover-ups, lies, and betrayal from the inside “The Messiah or mass murderer / no controlling who comes through the door.” These can be seen as xenophobic as the entire album’s lyrics are political based. Other lyrics that stand out are the chorus, “The clock runs out / the weakest link / a deadly strike / the threat is real!” The accusations are as strong as the guitar that keeps it moving.

Another track that stands out is the third single, the title track “Dystopia.” It continues on the political messages ever-present in the album, this time describing the future world, which explains the aptly chosen name. This is expressed in such lyrics as “There’s panic and there’s chaos, ramping in the streets, where useless thoughts of peace are met with rage.”

“Post-American World” is the most obviously political track and has been criticized quite a few times for xenophobic lyrics: “What will we look like? / In a post American world / why cower to all those / who oppose the American world?” Despite this factor, the lyrics are still worthy of headbanging, and is continually supplemented by a seemingly endless vault of riffs.

“Poisonous Shadows” is one of the slower songs on the album, and one that doesn’t seem to go with the overtly political sense that the rest of the album has. It’s lyrics are more heartfelt and relationship based, as if from the point of a desperate lover, who is sort of a stalker or someone she is left terrified of: “Is it my face you see? / Do I haunt you in your sleep?” It also includes a splendid use of orchestration as a helper.

“Conquer…Or Die!” is a nice instrumental break. It starts slow, a good build up after the slower track “Poisonous Shadows” with steel string acoustic guitar, and builds up to grandiose, blazing finish.

All in all, this was one of the best Megadeth albums in recent years. It goes to the roots with instrumentation, and has good musicianship all around, from the guitar to drums to the bass to the keyboards/orchestral arrangements. The lyrics aren’t anything to brag about, but they hold the album together and are serviceable. There are some really good ones, but they get repetitive in the ideas they are representing. However, they will still get crowds on their feet moshing, earning the album a 7.5/10.