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HMS Music Spotlight

When you’ve been around as long as Megadeth, you’re bound to experience your share of lineup changes, stylistic shifts, and both high and low points in your career. If you happen to be as socio-politically observative, sharp-witted, and outspoken as Dave Mustaine, you’re bound to rustle some feathers along the way. Couple that with a distinct musical style and vision, and you can expect to produce some of the metal genre’s most potent and anticipated offerings... and probably more than once. Welcome to “Dystopia”.

The band’s 15th release opens with an eerie, Eastern-tinged soundscape before the curtain drops on “The Threat Is Real”. A mid-tempo charger with a galloping riff and abundance of guitar solos interspersed throughout, it’s the perfect platform for staking their claim. There is no doubt that Mustaine and company are on top of their game here, both musically and lyrically. The driving title track follows, with a single-note verse riff almost as melodic as the vocal melody itself; the two melding together to create stinging web of harmony. The bridge veers into one of many syncopated rhythms on this album, another stylistic staple that Megadeth have always expertly crafted.

"Fatal Illusion” makes it’s entrance with cacophonous intro, both unsettling and tension-building. When the din subsides, it’s David Ellefson’s athletic and catchy bass line that's left standing to signal the onslaught to come. The guitars join in and hammer home the punishment. Even a cursory listen to this album will reveal more than a few familiar nods to the band’s past. In “Fatal Illusion”, the double-time machine gun riff that enters half way through recalls a few moments of their second album, Peace Sells... But Who’s Buying”. Longtime fans will likely grin at at these throwbacks.

At this point it’s undeniable just how suited Kiko Louriero is to the task of Megadeth co-lead man. Longtime fans of his work in ANGRA will know of his skill and sense of taste and musicality. For everyone else, Dystopia serves as an excellent introduction. His playing throughout exhibits his diverse palette, tasteful restraint, and immense chops….respectful of the band’s legacy and always in service of the song.

Several tracks on Dystopia take advantage of Kiko’s acoustic prowess. “Bullet To The Brain”, and “Poisonous Shadows” both begin with dark-hued acoustic passages that add variation and temperament to a decidedly menacing album. The instrumental “Conquer Or Die!” showcases this the most, with a flamenco-inspired entrance that gives way to a sharp and crawling riff, not dissimilar to “Killing Road” from the band’s Youthanasia release.

Written by: Kelly Kereliuk
9 out of 10

Another exciting development of late is the addition of LAMB OF GOD’s Chris Adler on drums. A much lauded and highly skilled skinsman whose love for MEGADETH and it’s influence on his formative years is certainly no secret. Like Kiko, Chris brings with him not only the firepower needed to retain the bands signature sound, but a respect for the both the band’s musical legacy and the fan’s expectations. His touch can be found all over this album, with his signature fills and bass drum work shining through loud and clear. If his goal was to merge his style into the proceedings while retaining his personality, it’s quite safe to say that he accomplished that successfully.

Of course no MEGADETH album is without it’s strong and poignant lyrical content, and Dystopia is no exception. Dave makes no bones about the state of world affairs, particularly that of his home country. Mustaine has always had his finger on the pulse of politics... and his observations have been just as scrutinized for almost as long. Regardless of how you choose to interpret his take on things, his prose and delivery are second to none. His tendency towards clever metaphorical word play and sharp-tongued phrasing is what sets him apart, and is a huge part of the band’s overall influence. Refer to the tracks “Lying In State” and “The Emperor” (among others) for evidence of this.

At the time of this review, the general consensus is that the MEGADETH that many fans have clamoured for is back. Although there’s no pleasing some people, it’s not unreasonable to state that Mustaine and crew have at the very least managed to revitalize and re-establish themselves in a way that’s currently making a lot of fans happy these days. The Threat Is Real indeed.

Kelly Kereliuk, HMS

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