As Barren as the Dystopia It Describes
Looking at Dave Mustaine’s track record musically, we’ve got to give the man some credit. Though he tends to play on his ego harder than he plays his guitar, Mustaine has maintained, at the very least, reassurance in the fact that he helped define thrash metal. While Megadeth has existed for the last three decades in theory, Mustaine’s inability to hold a steady lineup makes Megadeth seem like a new band every time they drop a release. With this, and every year that adds to Megadeth as an entity, Mustaine has also seen some changes himself, most notably in his vocal capabilities. It makes sense with an escalating age, but instead of the raw, more enthralling screams we’re used to hearing from him, his voice has fallen into more of a raspy growl, like a panther that’s been a chain smoker for years.
His vocal change is especially evident on their newest album, Dystopia, where the usual heaviness we’re used to experiencing with most of their albums has succumbed to a more airy, spoken (rather than “singing”) tone. As Dystopia is the first new material since the concurrent failure of 2013’s Super Collider, one could only hope that dispelling the lineup that helped him produce such an atrocity would automatically make this latest album, with a different lineup, much better. Despite its great effort, Dystopia is a disappointment.
The new album boasts the addition of two metal greats, Angra’s Kiko Loureiro and Lamb of God’s Chris Adler, but even their prowess couldn’t elevate Dystopia to its needed heights. Classic Megadeth elements are present, like the underlying political nodes that have always riddled through Megadeth songs, as well as cleanly executed riffage, but many of Dystopia’s tracks simply fall short. “Lying in State” and “Bullet to the Brain” are pretty forgettable, and the strongest song on the album doesn’t even have lyrics (“Conquer or Die!”). The biggest attempt at replicating their successfully loved MO was made, and for that we must commend, but Dystopia can really only be rendered as what’s to be expected of a band with poor, aging ego-tripped leadership.