Megadeth moves forward with old sound, new members

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Megadeth — Chris Adler (from left), Kiko Loureiro, Dave Mustaine and David Ellefson. | UME/T-BOY RECORDS

Three decades, fifteen albums and countless lineups later, Megadeth is going back to the basics.

With “Dystopia,” frontman Dave Mustaine wanted to stay in line with fans’ expectations: opting for a more aggressive, guitar-centric sound than the heavy-metal band has showcased on recent efforts, while continuing to write about typically timely themes of politics, war, drugs and relationships.

“People who dig this riffage-kind of band stuff, they want what they want and they don’t want a bunch of surprises,” Mustaine, 54, says. “With this record, we wrote exactly what we wanted to write at this time in our careers. There’s a bit of a snottiness to the record that kind of exemplifies where my head’s at.”

Written and recorded this past year between Nashville and Mustaine’s home in nearby Franklin, Tenn., “Dystopia” was a “redemptive” experience for the thrash icon and former Metallica guitarist, who almost lost the use of his left arm in 2002 after suffering severe nerve damage from an injury.

MEGADETH When: 7 p.m. March 13 Where: Aragon Ballroom, 1106 W. Lawrence Tickets: $45 Info:

“To be able to play the stuff I’m playing now again is really rewarding for me,” says Mustaine, who is joined on the album by longtime Megadeth bassist David Ellefson, as well as two new members: Lamb of God drummer Chris Adler and Angra guitarist Kiko Loureiro.

Mustaine first met Adler while headlining heavy-metal festival Gigantour in 2005, and Loureiro, a year later when they shot a cover for Burrn! magazine in Japan. After ex-members Shawn Drover and Chris Broderick quit the band in November 2014, Mustaine reached out to his prospective bandmates last spring and invited them to Tennessee.

“It never happened like a real audition — it was like, ‘OK, let’s have a coffee and talk about your life,’ ” says Loureiro, 43, who grew up going to Megadeth shows in his native Brazil and will accompany the band on its North American tour next month. Loureiro co-wrote three songs on “Dystopia” (taking lead on the instrumental “Conquer … or Die!”), and says the biggest challenge was “trying to create something new and exciting, while respecting the history of the band and the Megadeth concept. It was really intense, but nice.”

Despite Megadeth’s sterling additions, fans may still wonder what exactly transpired for Drover and Broderick to abruptly announce their exits within hours of each other. “I was surprised but not surprised,” says Mustaine, who insists there was no inner-band strife leading up to the departures, although a misunderstanding may have contributed to their decisions.

In 2014, buzz that fans wanted Megadeth to bring back its ’90s-era Rust in Peace lineup of guitarist Marty Friedman and drummer Nick Menza reached a fever pitch, making its way back to the band’s current members and management. Although that reunion never panned out, “everybody was talking about it and they quit,” Mustaine says. “I would have, too.”

As for whether there are any hard feelings, Mustaine demurs.

“I got to this point in my life where I realized that you don’t have to put somebody down to make somebody else look great,” Mustaine says. “I’ve got nothing bad to say about Shawn and Chris. I miss the friendship. I wish we had gotten the chance to say goodbye.”

Gannett; Posted on March 11, 2016

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