Fight the arbitrary government! Defy the tyranny of the rich and out of touch! Will Dave Mustaine be on the battlefield alongside you, waving a weapon and shouting semi-coherently? Good grief no. He and his loved ones will be well-cloaked in the California hills (or rather, he will be ranting and riffing in a subterranean studio while his loved ones compare recipes for homemade strychnine).
Drummer Shawn Drover and guitarist Chris Broderick won't be joining you either; the former called it a night after twelve years on the throne, and the latter just missed the aluminum anniversary. Enter Chris Adler (Lamb of God) and Kiko Loureiro, each bringing their own pair of shoes.
"The Threat Is Real"--The relentless scratching of an old familiar itch. Crazy how a horseshoe to the back of the head doesn't even a sliver of blood, but here's my unblemished hands for proof.
One man's threat is another man's realization that immigration made America vital. There's a hole in the melting pot, and I wish Mustaine and his pro-segregationist ilk would slither on out through it and leave the rest of us to enjoy our lesbian tacos in relative peace.
"Dystopia"--Possibly I've listened to "Hangar 18" too much, 'cause the title track sounds like a re-write. (No, I mean an unintentional one.) Mind you, the shit bangs. Screwface pyrotechnics all over the place.
"Fatal Illusion"--Ellefson sells, I buy.
The best MegaD makes me wish I could flip on the TV and hunker down for an hour of someone far shapelier and skilled performing a breath-thinning figure skating routine on a pond of frozen pig's blood. Rusted and rooted in the most unforgiving earth, "Fatal Illusion" qualifies.
"Death From Within"--I suppose a listenable record is an innovation for this band at this point. Leans towards the poppier missteps of Risk, yet references "embers of avarice."
"Bullet To the Brain"--In lust we come to distrust. One another, ourselves. Bewitched is soon bedeviled, and all the slaps to the face with all the bricks in the yard won't be enough to keep the darts from finding their targets.
The soloing on this album is banoodle boats.
"Post-American World"--When Mustaine snarls about the Big Evil "crushing all the dissenters who still think for themselves" it's far too inclusive a lyric to feel comfortable with. Segregationists do not want their avowed goal achieved. They thrive on the "us vs. them." In a narrow utopia, these big bad patriots would have to begin reassessing blame for problems that persist despite their bravery. An activity which is not as fun when there are no "others" around.
"Poisonous Shadows"--A tachycardiac thrasher which leaves a crystalline trail. More than welcomed (and thanked, profusely) after the hackneyed hokum immediately preceding.
"Conquer…Or Die!"--Acoustic beginning. Aw, just like Papa James used to make!
Then the scaffolding collapses around the elixir hustler and his malnourished kin.
"Lying In State"--What's more frightening--fire, or people who love fire? Just another ponder for the sewer dweller.
Dave Mustaine's vision of dystopia is ever more childish compared to that of Jaime Meline's (El-Producto, he produces and raps too). Listen to Fantastic Damage or...well, anything El-P's been involved with. He specializes in the cathartic release of toxicity. Mustaine would rather hoard his poisons, place them inside ornate jars and display the jars on shelves made of haunted wood, carved by the wizened hands of disgraced men. Both men are obsessed with kinesis, but only one ends the journey at a place ahead that which it began. Both men are struggling in the cesspool, but only one is flipping off the lifeguard.
"The Emperor"--Still making ill-advised forays into poppy fields, eh?
"Foreign Policy"--A Fear cover. Don't look or act or feel surprised; one thing punk and metal have always had in common is focusing more on enemies than allies. Not to mention Lee Ving joining Dave for the allegedly-acerbic MD.45 project. If nothing else, here be plenty punk passion. If Slayer could have unclenched their sphincters for a half hour, maybe Undisputed Attitude wouldn't have…no, it still would have sounded like four uncles getting a cover band together because they're afraid of their wives hitting back.
In its first week, Dystopia sold 5,300 units. Metallica's self-titled album, in its 1,275th week, moved 6,400 units. So even though Megadeth's fifteenth full-length stands as a fairer return to form than they've managed in yonks...who the hell cares.
What keeps the record from passing the line of "goodness" over to "greatness" is not Mustaine's personal ideology (far less listenable music has been created by far more admirable people) but his ever-weakening voice. James Hetfield's latterly mannered delivery may have been dreadfully hilarious, but at least it had personality. Every second of parody it inspired, every single damn belly laugh that left me gasping, it earned all of that. Midway through Dystopia, I found myself apologizing to my eyes for all the rolling.