Megadeth – Dystopia

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For a long while, I thought metalheads were stupid.I read reviews in metal sites where bands were called unoriginal for mixing genres. Then they’d give five stars to a Thrash band that keeps it ‘true to their roots’. I really hoped I was just stereotyping because I was an idiot.

“Super Collider” is a great song. It’s ridiculous Stadium Rock that’s fun, melodic and would go well with a beer. Since it was ‘radio rock’ the fans got angry and so we get the obligatory back to basics album. There isn’t a single song here as fun or with as much personality as “Super Collider”.

Mustain is an old guy. He didn’t hide it on “Super Collider”. He sounded like an old guy celebrating rock music and the joys of making money off telling teenagers about how religion is bad. It sounded both honest and refreshing even if you never heard a
Megadeth song before.

Here, he’s just pulling cliches out of his ass. I already heard this record back when it was called Countdown to Extinction. It was just as overly serious then but the band sounded young. There was charm in how seriously they played their music.

You don’t hear this spark in this record. It sounds so calculated. Can you get more cliched than “Fatal Illusion” or “Death From Within”? These are the most hackneyed Thrash titles. There’s a tiredness all over the record, even though the band tries hard to hide it.

They still sound good. In fact, I’m sure many of these songs would work well live. The riffs are loud and the drums bang hard. Mustaine may sound old but he sure tries. Sometimes, he hits the spot like on “The Emperor” (which is the most lighthearted song here. That’s not a coincidence). It’s charming to see how they try hard to make something profound in “Poisonous Shadows”. We even get an instrumental track in “Conquer or Die”, which isn’t interesting but at least it’s not an acoustic interlude. Maybe it will work well in a movie.

It’s so serious though. Do people really enjoy listening to chugging riffs, squeaky solos while stroking their beard? Stupid lyrics can be a lot of fun, but not in this context. This is a very serious album. You may make a mistake it’s just fun thrashing, but then you get to “Post American World”. That’s the kind of brooding I expect from The Smiths or Joy Division. The thing is, sparse arrangements sound well when brooding. Shredding doesn’t brood.

I might have taken the whole ‘apocalypse’ theme seriously, but it’s been drilled to our heads already. The only apocalypse so far is an apocalypse in the arts. The theme of ‘apocalypse’ is now boring. Still, it could have been fine if it was fun. This is music for first-person shooters and action films. It’s all pounding drums and chugging riffs. The only way you can be apocalyptic with this music is by adding something, like how Ministry’s guitars sound like chainsaws.

Mustaine sounds grave though. He sounds worried about the upcoming dystopia (Which we’ve been warned about from time immemorial). There’s no fun to be had here. It’s not even the venting that Ministry had on their Bush albums. Mustaine sounds like he hopes to change the world using guitar solos. All he does is give people a reason to make fun of metal.

Or maybe he’s just tired. He wanted to sing anthems now that he’s got tons of money. The fans wanted tostroke their beards while thinking ‘this is deep. It’s not about girls’. So he gave us a record full of dull lyrics about how the thread is real.

It’s a shame because there’s talent here. There are some really good hooks and most of the record sounds energetic enough. The band doesn’t sound like they’re at the end, but more like they’re not interested in this type of music. “The Threat Is Real” would have been better if it was about telling people to fuck off.

Some have criticized Mustaine’s ‘conservative’ lyrics. The irony is bigger than Jupiter. There are hundreds of bands making songs against America. Bowie had a song called “I’m Afraid of Americans”. Mustaine says vaguely that he doesn’t trust a huge wave of immigrants and suddenly he’s xenophobic and racist. Okay, the lyrics to “Post American World” are stupid, but I’ve heard far worse xenophobia from oppressed groups.

It’s a fun record, but mostly pointless. It’s overly serious in a genre that’s not meant to be serious. “The Emperor” is great and so is a few other songs, but why go back to this? I can get the same effect by listening to Prong or Five Finger Death Punch or Superjoint Ritual or Texas Hippie Coalition, only without the bullshit lyrics and seriousness.

2 super colliders out of 5

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4 thoughts on “Megadeth – Dystopia”

  1. Metal heads are odd creatures – I have always loved metal, but not only did I have to ‘prove’ myself because back then being a girl and liking metal was not ‘normal’. I am waving fingers around and rolling my eyes at this. I love so many styles of music but I would say metal/rock is my go to and I never understood why people in the community got their knickers in a twist over anything but pure music. It has changed, and bands have pushed the boundaries, but I have often felt it is a popularity contest more than an issue of sound? So if you are flavour of the month, turn out a record with a hello kitty tribute and it will be fine. If you are new, or just not ‘in’ you can have the most amazing, and outstanding single and it will be faced with derision at best or just ignored. I often wonder if part of that is a sense of identity, where so many artists play with sound, and blur the lines, it is a way of almost insuring purity?

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    1. Thanks for the comment.

      Actually, popularity is dangerous and it is an issue of sound. Just look at the reaction for “Super Collider”. It really is a happy Rock song about kicking ass and it the reception was very negative. The only explanation I heard for it was “It wasn’t the Megadeth we know”, yet no one explained whether the song fails on its own terms. It’s like criticizing Led Zeppelin for not containing bass drops.

      I think this obsession with purity comes when people want to belong to very small group. They want this group to remain the same and they identify with the ideas it has, like ‘technical skill’. That’s why they were so hostile to Nu Metal. Nu Metal was about flooding Metal with a lot of new, outside influence.

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      1. That is exactly it – it happens in a lot of communities but honestly, Metal is where I saw it first, the idea that something is only … oh crap.. the hipster refrain ‘i like it before it was cool’ … But yes, it is something that always frustrated me with the narrow mindedness. But also .. with music changing. People get so invested in bands, and can’t understand that a band won’t just churn out album after album that sounds the same. Art is organic and people grow, their ability, interests etc will change…

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      2. The first music community I’ve been on was full of such metalheads.

        Thankfully now I’m in RateYourMusic. It’s the nerdiest music community you’ll find, but everyone in the message boards there are over such cliches as ‘true metal’, ‘rap isn’t music’, ‘music today isn’t as good as before’.

        Pretty much any such moronic statement is made by ignorant people. These aren’t people who are deeply invested in music but have a narrow range of things they like. The nerdier the music fan, the more fun they are to talk with.

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