I almost gave the new Megadeth album a pass after hearing the single (and title track) “Dystopia”. Its repetitive riff, monotone vocals and overly commercial vibe didn’t inspire me any confidence that Dave Mustaine’s songwriting would be up to the standards of the band’s legacy. While their last few albums have been largely hit and miss for me, there were always a few tracks I’d love so I gave the album a spin anyway.
And I’m glad I did, because from the opening track, “The Threat is Real”, and all throughout the record, the songs are great and conjure shades of classic Megadeth. While the structures never reach the level of complexity of, say, “Rust in Peace”, there’s enough twists, turns and syncopation to please long time fans. Former Angra guitarist Kiko Loureiro makes his mega-debut and lays down twisted lead parts that complement the frantic riffing perfectly. Lamb of God’s Chris Adler now sits behind the kit and brings a renewed energy to the band.
As usual, Mustaine’s lyrics largely deal with politics, war and the failing of modern society. He may not be as angry has he was in his younger days, but he still delivers them with his trademark snark and grit.
The album remains surprisingly good throughout; it lacks a strong, memorable single or two to really anchor it but none of the tracks feel like filler. Any of these songs would sound great live. “Dystopia” may not be on par with “Rust in Peace” or “Peace Sells”, but it’s Megadeth’s strongest album in years.