“What will we look like in a post-American world? Why cower to all those who oppose the American world?” I’ve been asking myself this for the past few months, maybe even the past few years, but I had never listened to an album that genuinely expressed those feelings for me the way Megadeth’s album Dystopia does.
Dystopia imagines our country in a kind of reality one sees in a film or reads in a book—fiction, not fact. Yet the rapid progression of polarization, compliance, and chaos we’ve seen since this March could make anyone question whether or not they were living through a dystopian action film.
With all the virtue-signaling the last few months have inspired, I’ve kept this album on repeat, trying to understand something that seems impossible to understand: the embrace of our downfall. Unfortunately, but unsurprisingly, our country has fallen into the dystopian hell the album’s lyrics describe. Each track intertwines to tell a story about how our country has fallen; sometimes it’s a criticism of self-ruin, of collective ruin, of politicians, of outside threats, or ideas as threats—sometimes it’s all of these! Ultimately, they all reveal facets of our demise that can potentially be fixed if we have the conviction to find solutions and execute them.
Perhaps the most important tracks on the album are “The Threat Is Real,” “Dystopia” (of course), “Post American World,” and “Lying In State.” These four songs provide the most timely and thought-provoking lyrics. In conversation with each other, they convey a cautionary tale about how Americans must be vigilant and persistent. We must keep our minds open to more than just the spoon-fed corporate media narrative, see through the lies and false promises given to us by politicians, and fight to uphold American values in the face of the causes and ideas thrown at us by those who do not love this country. Americans must pay attention lest we lose sight of what our country is, or at the very least, what it was.
If you’re angry, sad, or confused about how things are going right now, the solution is not to stand back idly and let things play themselves out. The lyrics in many Megadeth songs talk about society’s injustices. Frankly, much of metal discusses societal problems, but metal is not about being “zen” when confronting these issues. Look at the world around you and ask yourself if you like it. If your answer is “no,” then the metal thing to do is…DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT!
Dystopia’s message is no different. If you listen to these songs and they reflect a world you’re not content with, then apply that energy into your actions so that America does not transform into the album’s namesake. When you listen to this album, it leads to one central question: Do you want to look back at this time and regret not doing anything to save your country and its values when they were clearly jeopardized? Regardless of uncertain or difficult circumstances, being vocal in the face of dissent is not a question; it’s the answer.