Thrash metal has always had a lot of political and social commentary at its core, which is certainly helped by the aggressive and forceful way the music is delivered. Megadeth being one of the 'big four' have helped inspire a generation of thrashers to kick up a fuss, raise merry Hell through a Marshall stack and scream down a microphone about the issues that affect them. Songs like Holy Wars...The Punishment Due, Amerikhastan and The World Needs A Hero are littered across Megadeth's back catalogue, so it's not surprising that you will find a good deal of political and religious philosophising on album number 15 too.
The opening track from Dystopia, The Threat Is Real, adds a Middle Eastern influence and takes the band's current material down a similar path in terms of being brutally relevant to our World. The title track is another classic Dave Mustaine rage against the political machine which contains some razor sharp lyrics tempered with some superb flourishes of musical hubris: “Demoralized and overmastered people think the quickest way to end a war is lose. Dictatorship ends starting with tyrannicide, you must destroy the cancer at its root.” Cheerful stuff.
If you were expecting things to get grimmer, than look no further than Lying In State and Post American World which both chronicle the end of Western Civilization and are delivered with a bitter prescient vocal from Mustaine. Death Comes From Within is another turbulent track with some energetic speed playing running alongside Mustaine's snarling vocals, melodic chorus and more soothsaying.
The album takes a hiatus from politics with The Emperor, a cheeky two fingers up to the cult of celebrity and flips to becomes more introverted with the sombre Poisonous Shadows and Bullet To The Brain. The latter are two of the more varied tracks on the album due to the addition of acoustic guitar, strings and keys to create more of a semi - symphonic nightmarish feel; This theme is picked up again with the sepulchral instrumental interlude Conquer Or Die!
The contentious narrative of the album is surmised with an excellent cover of Fear's Foreign Policy. Originally a punk track which epitomised the 1980's youth cocking a snook at the establishment, but in the hands of Megadeth it becomes a focussed and ironic bookend to Dave Mustaine's vision of Dystopia and a well thought out way to round off a brilliantly bleak album.
If it was Megadeth's intention to paint a very unfavourable and wretched view of the future, then they have certainly succeeded. Their post-apocalyptic landscape for this album is as vast and brave as ever. The band having some new blood in the way of Kiko Loureiro on second guitar and Chris Adler on drums certainly helps to create a fresh and fierce dynamic to the band's antagonistic sound. This is Megadeth at their rage filled finest.