Thrash metal dreams come true on Dystopia, an album of blistering syncopation, driving tempos, and tight song structures. Much of it recalls Megadeth’s best work, except now there are less hooks to go around. The lack of pop appeal is obviously calculated, serving to rinse out the trashy REO Speedwagonery of their 2013 MegaShit Super Collider. Although the ballad “Poisonous Shadows” gets all Celine Dion with strings and pianos, “Fatal Illusion”, “Lying in State”, and everything else hold the intensity for the other forty minutes.
While Dave Mustaine could write the book on thrashing in your fifties, his lyrics are becoming a concern. The Fear cover that caps the album is telling: Lee Ving’s right-wing, xenophobic jokery is easily integrated into Mustaine’s bleak vision of the real world. His fear of foreigners on “The Threat is Real” makes him sound more Bill O’Reilly, but the general end-of-democracy vibe is definitely fear-mongering Alex Jones style.
Regardless of skewed politics, Dystopia has a certain level of authenticity most metal lacks. Kiko Louriero and Mustaine’s lead/rhythm interplay is the real deal, the songs have a focused, singular sound, and you know Mustaine’s lyrics are a real slice of him. Mustaine’s already got my vote for best punk lyric of 2016: “You’re bad/You’re bad for my health/You Make Me Sick/You Prick”.