On Wednesday, April 8, MEGADETH bassist David Ellefson talked to Canada's The Metal Voice about the progress of the songwriting and recording sessions for the follow-up to 2016's "Dystopia" album. He said (see video below): "We've been working on it, and it's written, and it's ready to be recorded. In fact, we were gonna start recording it toward the end of March. But, of course, all of this happened. We ended up having to cancel out of the Hell & Heaven Fest in Mexico City, which I think was March 15th. And right after that, we were gonna go to Nashville and get started cutting tracks, but with everything shutting down like this, we obviously have to put health matters for us… And it isn't just the four of us — you go in the studio, and now you've got a whole staff of people in studios and carting services and all kinds of other services that go along with making records. Everybody's locked down right now. So once the lockdown lifts and it's safe to go back to — I hate to say 'normal life,' but it's safe to basically engage in that again, we will absolutely be ready to rock."
Speaking about the musical direction of the new MEGADETH material, Ellefson said: "I think it's a great record. It's very heavy. There's a lot of really fast thrashing stuff. And a lot of it is that the vibe is — it feels very cohesive between the four of us. We worked on a lot of it together, the four of us. Everybody works at home, and we'd throw some ideas into a folder and we'd kind of start working on that. But we spent a lot of time last summer — before we had to shut down for Dave's [Mustaine, guitar/vocals] throat cancer treatments — we spent a couple of months together working on it. And that was great, because that adds a whole different angle, a different skew, if you will, to the flavor of the record. That's how we used to make all the early albums — we'd all live together in Los Angeles and we'd rehearse five, six days a week and then we'd be in the studio together working on it. And over the years, people live in different locations, and, of course, we have a lot of availability of digital technology, so we can kind of send things around to keep collaborating even in downtime like this. But I think there's a real feeling on this record that we want this to be a band record. We don't want this to be something where we just come in and sort of plug into the computer and record our parts and go home. And the recording process is what it is, but I think for the writing and this pre-production phase that we've been in, we have really put the time in as a band, and I think it's gonna really show on the album."
Asked which previous MEGADETH album the new songs are musically closest to, Ellefson said: "I think every MEGADETH [album] now is a culmination of all of the records. 'Cause you can't help but not be influenced a little bit by your own past. I mean, we've got everything from that real raw, thrashy stuff from 'Killing Is My Business' and 'Peace Sells'; we've got the more refined moments of 'Youthanasia' and 'Cryptic Writings'; so there's all that stuff together. So I think the album's gonna have a little bit of everything, and I think that's good news for a MEGADETH fan, because not everybody is a thrasher, and the thrashers don't just wanna hear ballads. [Laughs] I think when it's done — and it's a little early to say, 'cause it's not finished recording yet — but I think when it's done, just from the material we have right now, I think everybody's gonna be really happy with it."
Last December, Mustaine spoke to Rolling Stone about the sound of the new MEGADETH songs. He said "The Dogs Of Chernobyl" has a feel similar to 2016's "Dystopia" album, while he said "Faster Than Anything Else" and "Rattlehead, Part Two" — both of which only have working titles at this point — speak for themselves.
According to Mustaine, Ellefson contributed a ballad at the frontman's urging that will feature the bassist's lead vocals for the first time. "I said to him, 'What was the biggest song that KISS ever had?'" Mustaine said. "He goes, 'Beth'. I said, 'Yeah, we should write a song like 'Beth', where it's a ballad and it’s just you singing it. I think you should write a song about what it's like being in MEGADETH with me, because I read all your lyrics, and I know that your lyrics are aimed at me. You're upset. So why don't you write about it?'"
He added: "I'm going to try to work on it now for this record, and if it doesn't get on this record, I'm going to try to work on it on the next record. Because it was actually really cool to see Ellefson writing something and hear him singing."
The early sessions for MEGADETH's 16th studio album took place last year in Franklin, Tennessee with co-producer Chris Rakestraw, who previously worked on "Dystopia".
MEGADETH's next LP will be the first to feature drummer Dirk Verbeuren (ex-SOILWORK), who joined the band almost four years ago.
Guitarist Kiko Loureiro made his recording debut with MEGADETH on "Dystopia", whose title track was honored in the "Best Metal Performance" category at the 2017 Grammy Awards.
MEGADETH and LAMB OF GOD are scheduled to embark on a 55-date tour this summer.