Megadeth – Dystopia (2016)


Megadeth has cycled between obvious mainstream rock pandering and careful imitation of their best appreciated works at an ever accelerating rate since their reformation in 2004. If this trend keeps up, they’ll be changing styles with every strum of their guitars in a few years. Dystopia isn’t quite as quick to alter its own sounds as that rather implausible hypothetical peak, but it’s still obviously colored by two colliding trends; Dave Mustaine’s desire to outsell Metallica, and the fact that even relatively extreme metal can sell enormous volumes in 2016. This makes what would be yet another comeback album into a surprisingly disjointed experience at times.

In general, Dystopia provides its potential listeners with several varieties of vintage Megadeth to peruse at their leisure, ranging from the technical wizardry of the ’80s and Rust in Peace (arguably the musical peak of this band) to the streamlined pop metal that immediately followed such, and even hints of recent albums through conceptual and musical continuity. Beyond the vocals of Dave Mustaine and the frequent guitar leads, though, there’s little that distinguishes this from other poppy speed metal of the mid 2010s, especially since this is one of those dime-a-dozen studio perfect recordings with perfectly appropriate production and instrumentation. One definite problem, however is that Dave Mustaine’s vocal and lyrical contributions have decayed in quality in recent years. Megadeth’s always been political at the best of times, but more often than not the lyrics devolve into political sloganeering that might be appropriate if he actually ran for president of the USA. In song format, though, all they do is annoy, irritate, and pander. Mustaine also relies increasingly on digital processing to mask the age-related decay of his voice, most notably on “Fatal Illusion“. This isn’t an innately bad thing, and you could theoretically make a case for the chorusing and harmonies opening new ideas for Megadeth to explore, but it pushes unneeded emphasis on the vocals, so even the average listener that decides that the technique sounds kind of cool might find it grating regardless. Perhaps I shouldn’t be focusing on the vox too much, but when the rest of the album is competent and yet unremarkable, it’s sometimes the only option.

In short, Dystopia is kind of disposable; most metal albums that try to approximate known classics are. It’s still better than Repentless, but the “Big Four” have all since run out of momentum, which makes Dystopia‘s slick technical competence marred by excessive streamlining even more unremarkable than it would otherwise be. The last time Megadeth tried their hands at this, they cranked out Endgame, which was well received at the time of its release and generally similar in approach, but has since faded from the public eye. Do you still have space in your listening rotation for Endgame? If you don’t, you won’t have time for Dystopia either.

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17 thoughts on “Megadeth – Dystopia (2016)”

  1. morbideathscream says:

    Last good megadeth album was rust in peace. It’s seems Dave is trying to keep the megadeth while sounding modern and up to date/poppy/trendy and it’s not really working. This album will disappear from memory just as endgame did.

    As for the political side of things, I’d much rather hear Dave Mustaine’s political rants than all these lefty grindcore bands who are just a bunch of sjw’s. His arguments make more sense, despite his Christian beliefs, than what’s popular to believe in (mainly sjw pc bullshit) within today’s metal world, if you even want to call it that?

    Just stick with the first 4 albums when megadeth were at their fastest and mustaine was at his angriest.

    1. whim says:

      The first four Megadeth albums huh? yeah alright I’ll check em out

  2. This album is just embarrassing…

  3. OliveFox says:

    Skeleton robot with a big sword and a old ass pistol: Megadeth album cover or action figure I bought my nephew for Christmas…YOU DECIDE!

  4. SomberSun says:

    Are there any Megadeth releases worth picking up? I’ve never bothered with them because everything i’ve heard them do is boring or a rehash of some boring thing they did previously.

    1. corpse says:

      Peace Sells… and Rust in Peace. You probably want to avoid the remixes.

      1. canadaspaceman says:

        agreed, the Megadeth remixed albums are shit, just search for and get the originals.

        The ONLY remixed one I actually like was for “So Far, So Good,So What”, as I hated that LP when released, but now can understand / hear what it was trying to do.

        I think I am alone though, as for others they loved it immensely. Maybe because it was their introduction to Megadeth, and was a lot better then many other bands at that time on TV /radio ?

        1. morbideathscream says:

          You and I have opposite opinions on the so far so good so what album hahaha.

          The remix seems too cleaned up and therefore makes it sound sterile. We all have our opinions, so shit…

      2. morbideathscream says:

        Especially the remix of so far so good so what, the remix of that album sounds sterile and tame compared to the original mix.

  5. Nathan Metric says:

    Another thing you forget to mention was the fact that the instrumental sections mean nothing. On Rust in Peace for example, the synchronization of the instruments created a warlike atmosphere. The instruments didn’t just create music. They created a picture in your mind via sounds representing things other than sounds.

    Here all they do is provide music and nothing else. We often complain about black metal becoming too atmospheric. but here we have the opposite problem. “Perfect” digitally processed recording with zero atmospheric or metaphoric value.

  6. canadaspaceman says:

    I understand the review. A lot of fans have complained about the sterile, studio perfect recordings of their albums, plus the rehashing of different parts of the discography to appeal to all metalheads, not just thrashers.

    There are at least 3 solid / very good / great songs on the “Dystopia” album.
    Check out – The Threat Is Real, Fatal Illusion, and Post American World
    I also dig the title song Dystopia a lot.

    I agree, this is probably better than SLAYER’s “Repentless”, but with the Big Four bands, each band has their fanboys that will support anything / everything released.
    Took me some years to accept Megadeth again, but I can at east somewhat enjoy every ‘ Deth album and every song, unlike with the other 3 bands who (in my opinion) have had many filler tracks since the early 1990’s.

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