Album Review: "The System has Failed" ~ Megadeth (2004)

Posted by prla1983 on August 25, 2005 • 0 commentsEmail This Post

The Mega-system has NOT failed

From the outset, I must admit I'm not entirely familiar with MEGADETH's body of work as I only know some of their "hit" songs (mostly from "Peace Sells... But Who's Buying?" and "Rest in Peace") plus the whole of 1994's "Youthanasia" and of course the album I'm reviewing right now. This basically means I'll be reviewing this one based on its own merits. Isn't that the way it should always be?

That said, the idea I get after repeatedly listening to 2004's comeback, "The System Has Failed", is that even though the world system may be indeed failing, MEGADETH really isn't despite Mustaine's ever changing mood and band lineup. This one sounds like going back all the way to the roots with very thrashy, speedy and hard rocking songs, along with Mustaine's trademark vocals sounding as good as ever. He may not be the nicest guy walking the earth but he delivers the goods and "The System Has Failed" is an example of this. In the end of the day however this is more of a Dave Mustaine solo album than anything else for many reasons, one being label pressure to put out one last album under the MEGADETH moniker and another the constant line-up changes - no one who recorded this album, except Mustaine himself, has been touring to support it. All music and lyrics are also entirely his responsibility, so you get the picture.

The tone used is at the same time poignant and angry, feelings which Mustaine's vocals so perfectly fit. The subject matter is divided between criticism against the underlying system(s) be it the American government policy for the Middle East with the fast-paced opener "Blackmail The Universe", justice and law enforcement with the killer cut "Kick The Chair" (for me the highlight of this album, so in-your-face, speedy and rocking it is) or the music scene with "Back in the Day". Mustaine also gets more personal with tracks like "Die Dead Enough" and "Something I'm Not" again using his greedy and angry tone to great effect. "The Scorpion" and "Truth Be Told" both start slow but quickly become great somewhat poppy rockers with amazing choruses. The last three tracks don't really live up to the rest of the record, in my opinion, and sound a bit like filler to me, except for Mustaine's solo in the second half of "Shadow of Deth". That felt really good. The others don't ruin the album but don't really add anything to it either.

"The System Has Failed" sounds really good when it does sound good and it has some remarkable tunes. The majority of MEGADETH fans should be pleased with this comeback. For someone like me who always heard of MEGADETH but never really got turned into them, it was a very good surprise and a very welcome record. It was also the spark I needed to dig deeper in their back catalogue (it's just a shame the re-issues have that silly copy protection scheme. Why can't I play a CD I *bought* in my computer? That's a real turn off...)

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