Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Megadeth : "Dystopia"

I normally do not support christian music in any form but Mustaine has toned it down enough for me to give this one a shot. The last time I gave a fuck about Megadeth was when "Youthanasia" came out ,  though there were some songs I heard on "Cryptic Writings " that I liked, we officially parted ways when I saw them in 1998 at Ozzfest and Mustaine had gone full christian mode, would not play there best songs from "Peace Sells"  and people where giving out fliers promoting Jesus and using his name to do so. Well how do you know he o.k'ed this? ... the defensive Megadeth fan asks.  I stopped one and asked them.   This is the first album since 2004  not feature drummer Shawn Drover who was replaced by Lamb of God drummer Chris Adler and the first since 2007 without guitarist Chris Broderik who was replaced by the guitarist from Angra. The first song is thrash with Mustaine's vocal much lower than the sneer you typically associate with their more classic sound, but this returns on the title track that follows. It is a catchier and more mainstream metal take on what they do. "Fatal Illusion" carries more heft when it slows things down into a more deliberate pound, before Dave Ellefson speeds things up into something that sounds like a b-side from "Countdown to Extinction" if that album had been produced in 2015. Not sure why the guitar feels the need to solo over what is supposed to be the chorus, the song has some cool sounds , but is haphazard in it's construction.

"Death From Within" takes two listens for me to get a grip on it , because the first listen didn't really grab me. It has what is a typical chug for the band, but sticks to a very middle of the road formula for them. The chorus is alright, but it's just alright it doesn't have much of a punch. Really at this point if it wasn't for the guitar tone, Megadeth would sound more like hard radio rock if you were to compare then to what is metal in 2016. The guitar solos run rampant here and are just what you would expect lots of speed and accuracy , but very sterile in the feeling department. Clean guitar tones open up "Bullet to the Brain". I like how the melody falls under the guitar one this one and the groove that the song might launch into makes sense despite the sing song chorus attached to it. The solo to this song has more rhyme and reason if you are in minority  into this band that needs for their solos to actually make sense in the context of the song. "Post American World" is more straight forward , but is also a more tightly written song. The drumming on this song is also more characteristic of Adler's playing.

There and more melodious qualities to "Poisonous Shadows" make it click more for me. This also the song credited with having an orchestral arrangement, which sounds more like synths to me. The chorus reminds me of post-"Trash" era Alice Cooper. The instrumental "Conqueror of Die" doesn't really have much merit except to serve as a backdrop for a shred fest, but no body is comparing these guys to King Crimson anytime soon. "Lying In State" takes a more aggressive approach, while it doesn't come close to the killer "So Far So Good So What" era is comes the closest to capturing that feel.Lyrically Dave is focused on political unrest and this is his state of the nation. Its no "Behold a Pale Horse" but not half bad in the that department."the Emperor" is typical of Megadeth's more accessible sound. The vocal lines fall tighter over the riff, but the annoying factor to this song is single note wailing over the singing. The guitar solo here is more tasteful and more rock n roll. They close the album out with a cover of Fear's "Foreign Policy" , well hey one punk cover already worked pretty well for them so why not try another. Though Megadeth is the antithesis of punk now as every thing is larger than life all the time. They don't have the same kind of anger to vent into the song that they had back on "So Far So Good". This cover doesn't really do a lot for me, they notes are all in the right place , but I think it sounds a little dialed in. This album does have some stronger moments than I expected and finds the band heading backwards in the right direction so I'll round it up to an 8.

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