January 23, 2016.
Seven years ago, Megadeth dropped “Dystopia”. Their 15th studio album and one of their best in the 2000 era of the band.
I keep making mention of the powerhouse drumming from Chris Adler, who at the time was still in Lamb Of God and worked as a “hired gun” on this. I still don’t believe I have done his contributions justice. His command of the kick drum is a must listen for any aspiring drummer. He locks into the riffs when he needs do, he plays simple when he needs to and he can thrash and roll when he needs to.
The cover is striking and memorable.
Being from Sydney, the Harbour Bridge is an iconic land monument which when built connected the Northern and Southern parts of Sydney, so seeing a bridge that looks very similar to it in a state of destruction and disrepair, immediately gets my attention.
Then you have those “1984” aerial devices that either “spy on you” or act as “judge, jury and executioner” for the ruling party.
And then there is “the humanoid”, holding the decapitated head of another humanoid.
The Threat Is Real
A mournful Middle Eastern voice begins the song before a fast open string riff is deployed with military precision.
And I am hooked.
The title track.
It brings back memories of “Hanger 18” which of course had its main riff based on a progression that Mustaine wrote for “The Call Of Ktulu”.
The whole outro section is essential listening. Especially how Chris Adler brings it to a frantic end.
Groove, chromatics and dissonance. They are not meant to work together but they do in the fingertips of Mustaine.
At the 60 second mark, the bass from David Ellefson stands alone as he plays the main riff.
When the whole band crashes in, my ears tune in again to the drumming of Chris Adler.
In composition it reminds me of “Wake Up Dead”, riffs upon riffs and no section which could be a Chorus as every section could be one.
Death From Within
I didn’t gravitate to this song back then but I was a fool. It’s 12/8 “Children Of The Grave” rhythm hooked me in straight away today.
Bullet To The Brain
The acoustic arpeggio intro is brief. Its classical influenced but not really classical.
But the best bit is the melodic lead played over the verse riff between 0.39 and 0.56. This happens again from 1.40 to 1.53.
I also like the section I call “The Disturbed Section” between 1.12 and 1.29. This also happens again from 2.10 to 2.28.
The lead breaks on this song are “Guitar Hero” wow.
Post American World
A throwback to “Symphony To Destruction” and those accessible riffs.
The acoustic intro, which reminds me of a solo section from “Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son” between the 8.50 and 9.10 mark. Since the song is a co-wrote with Kiko Loureiro, I presume he wrote this riff.
Press play to hear it and then compare the two. The keys are different, the speed is different but the way the notes move is the same.
Listen to the way Adler locks in the kick drum with the riff in the verses.
The Chorus reminds me of a similar song from the album “The World Needs A Hero”. I think it’s “Promises” which is another forgotten track from the vast catalogue that is Megadeth.
Conquer Or Die
It’s an instrumental written by Dave Mustaine and Kiko Loureiro.
A flamenco intro from Kiko starts the song which I like.
Lying In State
My favourite song from the album and it’s up there as one of the finest Megadeth songs.
The drums from Chris Adler on this are powerful. While the riffs serve as the songs foundation and Mustaine vocals are top notch, it is the way Adler performs on the drums that elevates the song.
That whole section from 2.19 is “smash the walls” stuff. When the melodic lead break starts, I’m ready to go through the wall.
There’s no way you can’t like the way it starts off. It’s got this “Dread And The Fugitive Mind” kind of feel.
It’s a “Fear” cover.
For those who don’t know. FEAR, is an American punk rock band from Los Angeles, California, formed in 1977. Since its formation, the band has gone through various line-up changes, and at one point featured Flea on bass.
This song appeared on “The Record”, the debut studio album released on May 16, 1982. Dave Grohl holds this album in high regard and he interviewed vocalist/rhythm guitarist Lee Ving for the 2013 documentary film “Sound City”.
Duff McKagan picked the song “We Destroy the Family” for his 2016 list “The 10 Best Punk Songs” and said, “Fear’s debut album “The Record” still gets played backstage before he goes on.
“Let’s Have a War” was included on the “Repo Man” soundtrack album and covered by A Perfect Circle on the album “eMOTIVe”.
Hearing this song, you can hear how thrashy the hard-core punk movement was in L.A. The song could have been written by Mustaine as it has that technicality that Megadeth is known for.
Melt The Ice Away
It’s basically a fast blues NWOBHM track.
For those who don’t know, it’s a Budgie cover. That same Budgie that wrote “Breadfan” which Metallica covered
Budgie remained quite obscure during their career, however a lot of hard rock/metal artists have cited them as an important influence and covered their songs, including Iron Maiden, Metallica, Megadeth, Van Halen, Queens of the Stone Age, Alice in Chains and Soundgarden. It’s an impressive list.
This song appeared on Budgie’s seventh album, released in February 1978 on A&M Records.
Overall, “Dystopia” is a masterpiece.
A lot of bands don’t get to fifteen albums and if they do, it is very rare that the album is any good.
Sort of like “Super Collider” released in 2013 was; where the best song is a cover from Thin Lizzy. Okay “Kingmaker” is one of the best opening tracks Megadeth have written.
But that was it.
Okay the title track “Super Collider” also gets a pass and although it was weird to hear Mustaine sing “Burn, Baby, Burn” and rhyming “fire” with “desire” the song “Burn” is a pretty cool hard rock track which actually reminds me of early Budgie.
But overall, critics hated it and the fans hated it even more. Something had to be done.
So Mustaine corrected the “Super Collider” hard rock experiment with the progressive speed metal album “Dystopia”. He had too and by doing so, he replenished his fan base all around the world and he grew it even more in South America with the addition of Kiko Loureiro.
Plus they won a Grammy for Best Metal Performance for “Dystopia” and when they got up to get their award, “Master Of Puppets” played from Metallica. Nice one Grammy’s. Rookie mistake 101.
And the album has aged really well. It sounds as current as it did back in 2016.