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Album review: Megadeth - Dystopia

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★★★

Legendary thrashers Megadeth return with a new line-up for their long-awaited fifteenth release.

Megadeth - Dystopia

I gave a lot of the context surrounding Megadeth’s new album, Dystopia, in my “Most anticipated metal albums of 2016” article, so I will try my best not to repeat myself too much here.

But let’s just say that the band’s latest outing has a great deal to prove: not only has it seen new members Kiko Loureiro and Chris Adler take up the roles of guitarist and drummer respectively, but the LP also has to make up for its frankly disappointing predecessor, Super Collider.

Does it succeed? Without a shadow of a doubt.

Musically, this is Megadeth’s best album since 2009’s Endgame. It feels like the new line-up has creatively revitalised the band; guitar solos dominate the record from beginning to end, showcasing a perfect sonic partnership between Loureiro and guitarist/vocalist Dave Mustaine.

Each use the record’s 45 minute run-time to explore the entirety of their fretboards, going from low, powerful riffs to higher, intricate solos with elegance and ease. Songs like the title track showcase some of Dystopias complexity, possessing the ability to add just enough melody before breaking into a blistering suite of mind-blowing soloing.

Normally, Megadeth’s songwriting is dominated by Mustaine – the band’s founder, front-man and only constant member since 1983 – but Dystopia leaves room for some collaboration, as he and Loureiro co-wrote the songs ‘Post-American World’, ‘Poisonous Shadows’ and the instrumental ‘Conquer… or Die!’.

And naturally, these three are the album’s highlights, demonstrating diverse musicianship that experiments with pianos and acoustic guitars, and tones that can switch between melancholic and relentless perfectly.

There is only one flaw with Dystopia that stops it from entering the ranks of Megadeth classics like Rust in Peace and Peace Sells… but Who’s Buying, and sadly, it’s a rather large one: that being Dave Mustaine’s vocals. What used to be an angry, ferocious scream now begins to feel tired and strained, especially in the album’s more melodic moments.

But regardless, Dystopia is a truly enjoyable record and an experience that showcases how the right line-up can truly rejuvenate a band.

Chris Adler and Kiko Loureiro are welcome additions to the Megadeth camp, working with the mainstays of Mustaine and bassist David Ellefson to create a thrashing, shredding ride of intricate song-writing and unparalleled technical ability.

Dystopia is available now in physical and digital formats via Tradecraft.




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