Megadeth - Dystopia

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Posted on Sun, 07/17/2016 - 8:08am
by Ron Wallace

Member since: Sat, 01/24/2015

Release Type

Studio Album

Release Year


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Tradecraft/T-Boy Records/UMe


Album Overview

Dystopia is the fifteenth studio album by American thrash metal band Megadeth, released on January 22, 2016. The album, produced by Dave Mustaine and Chris Rakestraw, is the first by the band since 2004's The System Has Failed not to feature longtime drummer Shawn Drover and also the first not to feature guitarist Chris Broderick since 2007's United Abominations. These roles have been filled by Lamb of God drummer Chris Adler and Angra guitarist Kiko Loureiro, respectively.

Dystopia has received a largely positive reaction from critics and held a Metacritic score of 69/100 as of February 2016. The album debuted at number three on the Billboard 200 chart, making Dystopia the band's second highest charting album in the U.S. after Countdown to Extinction, which peaked at number two in 1992.


1The Threat Is Real4:22
3Fatal Illusion4:15
4Death From Within4:47
5Bullet To The Brain4:29
6Post American World 4:25
7Poisonous Shadows6:02
8Conquer Or Die! (Instrumental)3:33
9Lying In State3:34
10The Emperor3:52
11Foreign Policy (Fear cover)2:28

Written-By: Lee Ving

Background and Recording

In June 2013, Megadeth released its fourteenth studio album, Super Collider, to mixed critical reaction. In the months following the album's release, frontman and guitarist Dave Mustaine revealed that he and the rest of the band had already begun to discuss a follow-up, an urgency somewhat influenced by the then-recent death of Slayer guitarist Jeff Hanneman, which had reportedly given Mustaine a sense of mortality. Additionally, several hardships struck the band in 2014. The band was set to play the Soundwave Festival in Australia in February through to March but cancelled after a disagreement with promoter AJ Maddah. In May, Ellefson lost a brother to cancer, following which, the band cancelled a number of scheduled shows. On October 4, Mustaine's Alzheimer's-afflicted mother-in-law went missing from a campground. Her remains were discovered on November 26. Furthermore, drummer Shawn Drover and guitarist Chris Broderick announced their resignations from the band that November. The pair would later emerge in a new band, Act of Defiance. Despite the departures, bassist David Ellefson announced that the band was still intent on starting work on the album in early 2015. Ellefson additionally suggested that the album would "help determine" Broderick and Drover's replacements.

Over the course of 2014, the band announced its intentions to start pre–production on the album. The band had been working on new material since December 2013, and in January 2014, Mustaine revealed that many riffs had already been written for the record. In May 2014, prior to his departure, Drover revealed that he and Mustaine had entered the studio and began tracking some demo ideas. The band originally planned to record in August 2014 and release the album in 2015. Instead, plans were only made to demo new material that October and start recording in January 2015.

Mustaine elaborated that, due to a reduced tour schedule for summer 2014, the band had more time to focus on songwriting. In February 2015, Ellefson revealed that the album was "pretty much written". The band started recording the album in April 2015 at Lattitude South Studios in Leiper's Fork, Tennessee. It was initially unclear as to who would produce the album. Mustaine suggested that instead of rehiring Johnny K, who produced both Thirteen (2011) and Super Collider (2013), the band would possibly opt for a new producer. While Mustaine initially indicated an interest in working with producer Max Norman, who had mixed Rust in Peace (1990) and produced Countdown to Extinction (1992) and Youthanasia (1994), it was later revealed that Mustaine would be producing the effort along with Toby Wright. However, Wright was let go early on, and Mustaine instead produced the album with Chris Rakestraw.

While there was initial speculation that Mustaine and Ellefson might try to reunite the Rust in Peace-era lineup, there was initially no statement from the band on the matter. It later came to light that the band had in fact been in discussions with former members Nick Menza (drums) and Marty Friedman (guitar), but were unable to reach an agreement. The opportunity would not arise again, as Menza died of a heart attack in 2016.

During March 2015, several rock music news websites speculated that Lamb of God drummer Chris Adler would perform drums on the album, which was later confirmed by the band. It was also announced in the same month that Angra guitarist Kiko Loureiro joined the band. Mustaine revealed a track listing for the then-untitled album on July 27 and announced the album was completed a month later.

A teaser launched in late September hinted that the song "Fatal Illusion" would be released as the album's first single on October 2. Mustaine had previously announced that a single accompanied with a video would premiere during the holidays. "The Threat is Real", the album's second single, was released for streaming on November 25. On January 7, 2016, the title track was released for streaming. Additionally, a deluxe version of the album was announced, featuring a virtual reality headset, which included a code to download video of the band performing five songs from the album.

Album Cover

The cover was done by New York artist Brent Elliott White, who was given the idea to go for a post-apocalyptic approach. Vic Rattlehead is depicted as a cyborg, with a virtual reality headset in place of the riveted visor, a headset instead of metal caps on the ears, and a mouthpiece resembling a mask. The pose, holding the head of a cyborg resembling the Statue of Liberty and a katana, is an homage to Seven Samurai. The setting homages 12 Monkeys by having a deserted and destroyed city, Mad Max by putting Vic under the Sydney Harbour Bridge, and The Walking Dead with the "drones meant to be like Michonne’s enslaved zombie buddies".


Mustaine elaborated on possible lyrical themes, revealing that he had been reading about world history and "crazy science stuff". Both Mustaine and Ellefson had indicated that the album would feature a different musical and stylistic approach from the previous album, including a move away from a radio-oriented sound. Mustaine also stated his belief that the album sound and songwriting would be influenced by his 2014 guest performance alongside the San Diego Symphony.

In July 2014, Mustaine announced that he was editing a demo for a new track titled "Why We Lie to You". He has described the track as "kind of like if Jack Bauer was in a band, what he would sing about," and compared the song's structure with that of "Holy Wars... The Punishment Due". In May 2015, the band posted several videos clips on PledgeMusic featuring snippets of new songs, titled "The Emperor" and "Conquer... or Die". Megadeth recorded fifteen tracks, two of which are covers: "Melt the Ice Away" by Budgie and "Foreign Policy" by Fear. "Poisonous Shadows" was stated by Mustaine to feature piano parts performed by Loureiro, as well as orchestral arrangement by Ronn Huff, father of record producer Dann Huff who worked with the band in the late 1990s. It was also announced that the album would feature a guest appearance from country musician Steve Wariner, who would perform steel guitar parts. However, neither Huff, nor Wariner were credited in the album's liner notes.


In spite of the departures of Broderick and Drover, Ellefson stated that the band intended to release the album later in 2015. In January 2015, the album, yet to be titled at the time, was listed by Loudwire as one of the "30 Most Anticipated Rock + Metal Albums of 2015". It was suggested that the departures of Broderick and Drover, as well as the lack of details about possible replacements fueled anticipation on the part of fans and critics. With an official title and release date confirmed, the album also made Loudwire's 2016 list.

Upon its release for streaming, Loudwire's Joe DiVita praised the album's title track. Dystopia debuted at number three on the Billboard 200, with 48,000 copies sold in its first week. The album sold 14,400 copies in its second week, sliding to number 30 on the Billboard 200. Dystopia sold over 110,000 copies in the US fourteen weeks after its release. The album was a bigger seller than Super Collider, which took 43 weeks to reach 80,000.

To support Dystopia, Megadeth embarked on a North American tour, with supporting acts Children of Bodom, Suicidal Tendencies and Havok.

Critical Reception

Dystopia has received generally positive reviews from critics. Commending the band's return to a more aggressive style, Calum Slingerland of Exclaim! wrote that Dystopia put the band back on track and started a new chapter in the band's storied career. Sarah Rodman of The Boston Globe liked the combination of energetic riffs and cynical lyrics about the state of the world. Loudwire's Chad Bowar said Dystopia was a first-rate Megadeth album and praised the interplay between Mustaine and Loureiro. Record Collector's Joel McIver called the album a return to form for Megadeth, and a big improvement over the previous two records.

A favorable review was posted on heavy metal news site Reviewer Ray Van Horn, Jr. proclaimed "Dystopia isn't monumental, but it's a damned good (often magnificent) album. The entire foursome in this incarnation of Megadeth goes for the win and Dystopia readily scores." Thom Jurek from AllMusic agrees, saying "It's easy to appreciate the music on Dystopia; it showcases Mustaine and a crack new version of Megadeth at a creative peak." Dom Lawson of The Guardian called the album an "absolutely blistering return" to the style "of past glories like Rust in Peace and Endgame."

The views allegedly expressed by Mustaine in the lyrics of several songs have been a point of criticism for the release. While J.J. Anselmi of The A.V. Club declared that the album features "masterful instrumentation," he complained about lyrics displaying Mustaine's "offensive politics" and "xenophobia," a sentiment shared by Benjamin Aspray of Slant Magazine.


Dystopia achieved success on international music charts. It charted in the top ten in a dozen countries, and entered into the top twenty in four more. The album debuted at number three on the US Billboard 200, selling 48,000 copies (and streaming equivocal to another 1,000 copies) in its first week. This topped both the position and sales of the preceding album, Super Collider, and marks the band's second highest domestic chart position, after Countdown to Extinction, which reached number two in 1992. The album also charted at number three in Canada and Finland, and reached number two in Japan.


  • Dave Mustaine – Lead vocals, lead, rhythm and acoustic guitars
  • David Ellefson – Bass guitar and backing vocals
  • Kiko Loureiro - Lead, rhythm and acoustic guitars and backing vocals, piano on "Poisonous Shadows"
  • Chris Adler – Drums

Additional Musicians

  • Charlie Judge – Orchestral arrangements on "Poisonous Shadows"
  • Farah Siraj – Guest vocals on "The Threat is Real" and "Poisonous Shadows"
  • Miles Doleac – Voiceover in "Conquer or Die"
  • Chris Rodriguez – Backing vocals
  • Eric Darken - Percussion
  • Blair Masters - Keys & programming


  • Produced by Dave Mustaine and Chris Rakestraw
  • Engineering by Chris Rakestraw
  • Mixed by Josh Wilbur
  • Pre-production by Cameron Webb
  • Additional production by Jeff Balding
  • Mastering by Ted Jensen
  • Brent Elliott White – Cover artwork


iTunes & Best Buy editions include the songs "Look Who's Talking" and "Last Dying Wish" as bonus tracks. "Me Hate You" is a bonus track on the Japanese edition. "Melt the Ice Away" is a Spotify bonus track.



Dystopia (Megadeth album) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia : taken from -