MEGADETH - Dystopia
January 20, 2016, 5 years ago
Maybe it's time that we collectively realize something about Megadeth: while the band's peak was undeniably Rust In Peace (1990) and Peace Sells... But Who's Buying? (1986), the group's legacy is probably not going to be those records. Through too many members and through numerous label changes, it's become incrementally clear that Rust and Peace Sells are only anomalies in Dave Mustaine's catalogue, and not representative of Megadeth in its totality. Maybe it's finally time to stop expecting return-to-forms in those albums’ mirror image, though the Megadeth pre-release hype always hints that, THIS time, we'll be getting what we’ve been waiting the better part of two decades for.
Which isn’t to say Dystopia - Megadeth’s 15th full-length - is a bad record. Far from it, in fact. But it’s very much in line with the Megadeth we’ve known since The World Needs A Hero was released 15 (!) years ago. Since that time, some of you (Greg Pratt) have heard me go on, for too long on many occasions, about how if you put all the highlights from the post-World Needs A Hero records on a single album, you’d have one hell of a statement. But, because of too many serviceable but ultimately unmemorable songs on those records, they’re kind of lost in the fog. The System Has Failed, United Abominations, Endgame, Th1rt3en… you’d be lying if you told someone you could tell them apart, or remember them other than a key song here or there. Which undermines the fact that there’s some great material in those forlorn places.
Which is essentially the story within the story on Dystopia. The highlights here, and there are several, could easily be in the top tier of that aforementioned highlight reel. “The Threat Is Real”, “Fatal Illusion”, “Lying In State” and “Foreign Policy” (minus its lazy chorus) are inspired, and they prove that Dave hasn’t lost his ability to write a really engaging metal song. One wonders why that very same phenomenon can’t be kept together over the course of an entire full-length (maybe the solution is to only release EPs from now on?). Aside from its highlights, and as was very much expected, the rest of Dystopia is serviceable - these songs inoffensive and even mildly interesting - but not much more.
Mention of course should be made of the fact that Dystopia features Lamb Of God’s Chris Adler, a truly gifted drummer who’s done all sorts of impressive things on Lamb Of God records, especially the landmark that is As The Palaces Burn. His presence on a Megadeth album is a completion of the circle in so many ways; whoever’s next on the Megadeth drum stool has big kick-drum pedals to fill.
So, yes, it’s 2016 and Megadeth’s written and executed another of its listenable, kind of memorable, sorta useful records. Maybe Rust and Peace Sells really were just explosions of inspiration that come once, or twice, in a career (the eye of the tornado, an old-school fan might say). Maybe Dystopia, and the fifteen years that’s preceded it, is actually the authentic representation of the Megadeth sound. For better or for worse.