Dystopia revisited: The political trap


Metal journalists are yet again falling into to the trap that of believing that the differences in their political opinions and those of the bands they cover are somehow a valid criterion for judging the overall merit of the music they’re listening to. It happens every day when a prospective metalhead first learns about Burzum, and it more recently has permeated how we interact with the horde of propaganda bands out there who never let a good song get in the way of a good slogan. Megadeth’s latest full-length (Dystopia) wasn’t quite that heavy handed as a mouthpiece for Dave Mustaine’s politics (and indeed, I found it to be a banal and sterile experience compared to the band’s more ambitious early work on its musical elements alone), but it expresses enough of an opinion through its lyrics that it stung a few dissenters.

Illustrating this neurosis today are two reviews of Megadeth’s latest that are more concerned with David Mustaine’s politics than his musical efforts. First, a writer for the AV Club had to stress that even though they enjoyed the music, they were also certain that “…there’s simply no room in our already fear-laden culture for any more xenophobia”. Another review hosted on Cisternyard Media is more critical of the music, but is otherwise similar in its condemnation. Interestingly, they explicitly mention a similar level of political fervor in Megadeth’s earlier works, which doesn’t exactly attract their vitriol, and therefore helps to illustrate the writers’ specific beef with their positions.

These reviewers’ criticisms read like a poorly written tutorial on how to be the perfect social justice warrior, railing against the injustices that are clearly inherent in Dystopia‘s lyrics that therefore requiring immediate shaming and censorship, and then making lasting friends with other like-minded people in the process. The other major problem with these reviews is that they discuss the actual sound and execution of the music in an exceedingly shallow manner at best, instead choosing to be seduced by Megadeth’s technical wizardry. Given that they’ve already rejected Dystopia for not being politically kosher, I’m not expecting them to attempt more advanced topics, such as “Does Dystopia‘s songwriting effectively complement the themes Dave Mustaine is trying to convey?”, but that is a venial sin at best, given that your average metal critic cares little for musical analysis. If they continue to pursue their political vendettas, though, the odds of them writing anything significant on these subjects is nil.

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28 thoughts on “Dystopia revisited: The political trap”

  1. Demonseed says:

    No. Actually the real problem is that you critics don’t know jack shit about music. and your idea of good music is based on quantization and over-production . You demand underground bands spend inordinate amounts of money on their recordings . And you never criticize the followers , just the leaders.

    1. vOddy says:

      Really, now?

      Are you claiming that Ildjarn, Burzum, and Darkthrone were recorded on high budgets?
      Those names are held in high regard by the staff of this site. Read the reviews of those bands at deathmetal.org/bands if you don’t believe me.

      Can you even find one quote by one staff member praising high budgets?

      Are you a troll, or are you serious? I can’t even tell.

      1. thewaters says:

        Funny how new readers interpret this new incarnation of the site, maybe some soul searching is required here. As a long time reader, I would hardly say that this new incarnation of dm.org champions old classics like Darkthrone etc. In fact, it more often concerns itself with power metal (at least recently) in a poor attempt to gather readers for the supposed purpose of luring them into better metal via the DLA reivews (which are buried at the bottom of this site).

        1. Meek Metalhead says:

          Well DMU has been trying to find a wider audience (more like fatter) even before the plug was pulled on the DLA.

        2. Oh, really? Actually you are completely wrong, but it is also wrong to believe that because we hold the golden underground of the 90s in high esteem we should be talking about it all the time.

          Also, try to count what percentage of all the posts in the last 6 months consist of power metal. I assure you can use the fingers of your hands to count them straight up, not to say anything of a percentage.

          1. thewaters says:

            Num num num num!

        3. vOddy says:

          Can you give me examples of that?

          In the “Best of 2015” article, they hailed Kaeck, and when I visited this site for the first time, what I saw was an article comparing old and new death metal and black metal. They generally shat on the new and praised the old;
          Kvist for black metal and Krabathor for death metal were the examples used for old.

          I’ve also seen a lot of Morbid Angel praise.

          I just don’t see the power metal. Where is it?

          1. thewaters says:

            Look inside yourself if you want to find what you seek!

            1. vOddy says:

              You sound like you are arguing for a religion.
              You’ll have to do better than that.

          2. Meek Metalhead says:

            Im pretty sure the main complaint is that theres too much filler. Even SMR can be summed up with “the album is shit, just move along”. There are a few going more into depth why something is shit, but those are few.

        4. Life Afirming Existentialist says:

          Why should the writers here repost what has already been said? They shouldn’t. In fact, by covering new ground, critiquing poorly composed music, spreading the work of good music, and articulating the values of Romanticism and Transcendentalism, they teach how to develop ones ear (aka how to analyze the objective aspects of music) so that we can hold ourselves to higher standards while learning from others biased experience in order to improve our standards. The implications of space, time, and natural law (aka inevitability) means that we only have a set amount of time to appreciate and learn from the great classics and new other objectively superior music, obviously.

    2. vOddy says:

      Were you referring to the SJW sites, or to this one? Damn, I don’t even know any more. You’re making me confused, man. :D

  2. Demonseed says:

    You idea of good music is class warfare against poor bands. We are coming for you … FUCK THE EASTABLISHMENT!

  3. Demonseed says:

    Take a look at my band’s FB page . over 5hundred and 50 people disagree with you so far about mixing politics and metal . YOU LOSE. THE REVOLUTION HAS BEGUN!

  4. Demonseed says:

    We are tired of commies like you telling us what we CAN and CAN NOT sing about . We will sing about whatever the hell we feel like. Fuck you …

    1. vOddy says:

      This man is on a war path.

      It’s too bad that he doesn’t know his ass from a hole in the ground.

    2. Poser Patrol says:

      What is plastering the comment sections with your butthurt going to solve?

  5. LostInTheANUS says:

    This Machine Kills Commies

  6. canadaspaceman says:

    Unsure why some are attacking DMU writers here, as they are NOT the SJW’s.

    The more I listen to the “Dystopia” album, the production IS different from song to song.
    For example,
    I really enjoy the title track, but the vocals are louder than the guitars, compared to a “Fatal Illusion” or “Death From Within”. Was this a mistake? Or did Mustaine (or the record company) hope if the record, by luck, got some mainstream notice, then a song like “Dystopia” with a lower/weaker guitar might get radio play like Judas Priest?
    (I do not listen to regular FM radio, so no idea if Priest is even played anymore.Just guessing)

  7. michael says:

    but isn’t this the very same website that hates on death because chuck schuldiner became a humanist in his later career?

    1. vOddy says:

      This site does not love or hate music based on the personality of the composer. It loves or hates music based on the nature of the music.

      1. Meek Metalhead says:

        Not to say it would shy away from some good ol’ gossip and shitflinging, right?

    2. OliveFox says:

      I think they hate on Chuck because Death sucked hard after Spiritual Healing (some say Leprosy, but I like SH.). If he became a humanist and still wrote a slight variation on Scream Bloody Gore every album he might’ve been praised as “workman-like” or a “veteran voice,” maybe like Master or something. Either way, Death’s brilliance has to do with how early they came about…not really how great their music was.

  8. Nathan Metric says:

    Probably the last good Megadeth song was Blackmail the Universe. For being non-linear and having instruments playing transformative music that succeeds not just at playing music but at creating a clear picture in your mind. This is something lacking in the new Megadeth.

  9. Fine Young Catamite says:

    This site needs more sexy writers with beautiful hung packages.

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