Dystopia is the fifteenth studio album by American thrash metal band Megadeth that was released on January 22, 2016 on Dave Mustaine's Tradecraft label. The album, produced by Dave Mustaine and Toby Wright, 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.
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 had 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. Mustaine has suggested that instead of retiring Johnny K, who produced both Thirteen (2011) and Super Collider (2013), the band might 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.
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 an agreement was not reached. During March 2015, several rock music news websites speculated that Lamb of God drummer Chris Adler will perform drums on the album. At the end of the month, the band confirmed that Adler would be performing drums on the album. It was also announced in the same month that Angra guitarist Kiko Loureiro joined the band. Mustaine revealed the track listing 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 will premiere during the holidays. "The Threat is Real", the album's second single, was released for streaming on November 25.
Mustaine has 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 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 an 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 will feature a guest appearance from country musician Steve Wariner, who will perform steel guitar parts.
Release and reception:
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", alongside expected albums by bands like Iron Maiden, Slayer and Tool. 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.
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