Now thirty three years into their career, it would be easy for Megadeth to join the likes of many of their contemporaries by living off the nostalgia of the legacy they’ve built. In an age where album anniversary tours are all the rage, the thrash metal legends could easily sustain themselves just by playing mostly old material and putting out new albums with one or two strong songs surrounded by filler every couple years. But luckily for thrash metal fans that’s not what Megadeth elected to do.
Earlier this year, they released “Dystopia,” their fifteenth studio album and by most accounts; their strongest effort in years. The album debuted at number three on the Billboard 200, their highest charting record since 1992’s “Countdown to Extinction” and came in second only to that album for highest charting in their career.
Touring in support of “Dystopia” the band rolled into Boston, MA on Monday night for a sold out show at the city’s House of Blues. Playing an extremely well balanced setlist, Megadeth would work five songs from Dystopia into the set, one of which, - "The Threat Is Real" - was the second song played. One of the central themes of the new album is Dave Mustaine’s return to writing politically charged lyrics, something on full display on the song “Post-American World” which was also played during the set. Later on, while speaking to the crowd between songs, Mustaine explained how when writing for "Dystopia" he returned to writing song for himself instead of writing for the radio. On the more classic end of the setlist, there was as much material played from Megadeth’s landmark album “Rust in Peace” as there was from “Dystopia.” Including the crowd pleasing “Tornado of Souls” which drew quite the exuberant reaction from the sold out room.
The final songs of the night were a powerful, high energy three pack with “Symphony of Destruction” and “Peace Sells” closing the main set and “Holy Wars…The Punishment Due” making for the one song encore, all of which made for a show that finished on an incredibly high energy level. In fact, the energy level was quite high through almost the entire show, higher than most would expect for a band in their third decade of making music. Perhaps part of the re-newed energy has come from a lineup change since Megadeth’s last album, the addition of Lamb of God drummer Chris Adler and legendary Brazilian guitarist Kiko Loureiro has breathed new life into the band. Adler’s machine gun precision and rhythm has given the drumming that signature thrash metal sound that Megadeth once helped to create. Meanwhile Loureiro has become the perfect compliment to Mustaine’s lead guitar playing giving the band that twin guitar attack. And of course the core of the band Mustaine and Ellefson are the force that has kept Megadeth – and in part the thrash metal genre – going strong for so long.
At this point in their career Megadeth could almost be considered a heavy metal supergroup with the names in their lineup and that works out just fine for fans, as they are playing perhaps some of the best music and shows of their entire career.