Published Jan 20, 2016Listeners had one simple wish for Dave Mustaine and company upon learning of a new Megadeth release: Please don't make another Super Collider. The much-maligned 2013 record was heavily criticized for being a poorly executed attempt at radio rock, and is without question the lowest point in the band's late-era work. Mustaine took note, and was quoted just under a year ago saying he would never write another radio song again as "it's not really what Megadeth fans want to hear."
The arrival of Dystopia brings with it a new roster of bandmates (Angra guitarist Kiko Loureiro and Lamb of God drummer Chris Adler replace Chris Broderick and Shawn Drover as full-time members) and a different sonic direction. In large part, Mustaine has delivered on his promise of a more aggressive sound, employing a number of elements both compositional and lyrical that the band's classic work made use of. The title track's tempo change, signalling guitar solo trade-offs, is reminiscent of "Hangar 18," while Mustaine's lyrical brand of political and social nihilism is discernible just from taking a look at the track list ("The Threat is Real," "Post American World" and "Conquer or Die!," a decidedly more overdriven cover of Fear's "Foreign Policy").
Dystopia isn't without its flaws. The confident strut and orchestral accents of "Poisonous Shadows" are somewhat cheapened by ill-advised whispered backing vocals, and the songwriting bottoms out in a handful of places ("You're bad for my health / Because you make me sick / You prick," goes "The Emperor"). Still, it's miles ahead of their rather forgettable last album, and there's still enough here for fans to celebrate Megadeth getting back on track and starting a new chapter in the band's storied career. (Universal)