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3.48 | 67 ratings | 5 reviews
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Album · 2004

Filed under Thrash Metal


1. Blackmail the Universe (4:33)
2. Die Dead Enough (4:18)
3. Kick the Chair (3:57)
4. The Scorpion (5:59)
5. Tears in a Vial (5:21)
6. I Know Jack (0:40)
7. Back in the Day (3:27)
8. Something That I'm Not (5:07)
9. Truth Be Told (5:40)
10. Of Mice and Men (4:04)
11. Shadow of Deth (2:15)
12. My Kingdom (3:03)

Total Time: 48:30


- Dave Mustaine / Vocals, Rhythm and Lead Guitar
- Chris Poland / Lead Guitar
- Jimmy Sloas / Bass
- Vinnie Colaiuta / Drums

About this release

Label: Sanctuary Records
Release date: September 14th, 2004

Thanks to UMUR, diamondblack for the updates


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Specialists/collaborators reviews

"The System Has Failed" is the 10th full-length studio album by US thrash/heavy metal act Megadeth. The album was released through Sanctuary Records in September 2004. It´s the successor to "The World Needs a Hero" from 2001 and features several lineup changes since the predecessor. The only remaining member of the lineup who recorded "The World Needs a Hero (2001)" is actually lead vocalist/guitarist Dave Mustaine. Several different things led to the big lineup shuffles, and the first was Mustaine disbanding Megadeth in April 2002, because of a serious arm injury, which made him unable to play guitar. Mustaine received intense physical therapy but it still took months before he could play guitar again.

The writing sessions for "The System Has Failed" started out as a Mustaine solo project, but because of contractual obligations the project adopted the Megadeth name. Mustaine called his old friend and co-founder of the band bassist David Ellefson, but the latter was unsatisfied with the financial terms of the deal Mustaine offered him and refused the offer to return to Megadeth. Instead Mustaine opted to bring in session musicians for the project. Former Megadeth guitarist Chris Poland was brought in to record solos and lead guitar parts, Jimmy Sloas was brought in to record bass, and Vinnie Colaiuta to play drums. The latter is mostly known for playing on many jazz/fusion releases by various artists, but also for playing with Frank Zappa in the late 70s and early 80s. A very skilled drummer and quite the capacity.

Not surprisingly the high level musicianship is one of the greatest assets of "The System Has Failed". Colaiuta brings something a little different to the rhythm part of the band´s sound (while staying true to the core sound), and Poland delivers one blistering melodic solo after another. Mustaine sounds revitalized after the rather limb "The World Needs a Hero (2001)" and his riffs are sharp and his vocals strong. His unique voice will always be an aquired taste, but he arguably puts on a good performance here. It sounds like the hiatus (although it was forced upon him) was actually good for him.

The material are generally of a good quality but it´s not through and through a brilliant release. There are enough quality material here to warrant me calling "The System Has Failed" a good quality album though, and tracks like "Blackmail the Universe", "Kick the Chair", and "My Kingdom" (which are all among the most hard edged and thrash metal oriented tracks on the album) are for example pretty strong tracks, which smell just a little bit like 80s/90s Megadeth. The remaining tracks range from good to slightly mediocre, but none are bad. If I have to compare "The System Has Failed" with some previous Megadeth releases it would probably be the melodic heavy metal oriented "Youthanasia (1994)" with an occasional whiff of "Peace Sells... But Who's Buying? (1986)". The latter is mostly due to Poland contributing but the occasional appearance of a hard edged riff also point in that direction.

"The System Has Failed" features a powerful, detailed, and well sounding production, which suits the material perfectly. The sound greatly contributes to the material shining and appearing as effectful as possible. Upon conclusion Megadeth have succeeded yet again in writing and recording a good quality melodic heavy metal/thrash metal album. It occasionally makes my blood boil and the rest of the time I´m at least well entertained listening to music as well composed and performed as the case is here. A 3.5 star (70%) rating is deserved.
2004 saw the metal community rejoice, as thrash metal pioneers and all-round icons of the genre, Megadeth, returned from a forced retirement two years prior.

However, this wasn’t the Megadeth of old. With the band splitting up in 2002 due to an injury suffered by leader, vocalist and guitarist Dave Mustaine, the following two years in which Mustaine healed up would see himself and long-standing bassist David Ellefson fall out over legal disputes. As a result, while Mustaine was ready to return to the music world, with no band line-up in sight, he set out to record a solo album, which very quickly became another Megadeth project when it became apparent that his own name-value was nowhere near that of his bands.

While ‘The System Has Failed’ is a Megadeth album, it is essentially a Dave Mustaine solo release, with a load of session musicians. Albeit, one of which was returning guitarist Chris Poland, who had appeared on the bands first two releases back in the early 80’s.The two-year hiatus did Mustaine a lot of good though, as this is a return to form after a rather strenuous start to the new century. 1999’s ‘Risk’ saw them go pop rock to critical disdain (I love that album, for the record), and 2001’s ‘The World Needs a Hero’ was a rather stoic, rigid affair, that felt like the band weren’t really making too much effort at all.

But with ‘The System Has Failed’, Megadeth are truly back to their thrash metal roots with heavy, intense and driving guitar riffs, angry, spite-filled lyrics that lash out at politicians and war, and Mustaine’s vocals being more ferocious and venomous than ever. The production gives the songs a thick sound, with a thumping bass line and solid drumming, and the technical prowess of the musicians, along with the melodic approach to the songwriting, gives the album a fresh sound, not heard since 1990’s ‘Rust in Peace’.

Overall, while there are one or two filler tracks, this is a solid album, with songs like ‘Kick the Chair’, ‘Blackmail the Universe’, ‘Die Dead Enough’, ‘Back in the Day’, ‘The Scorpion’ and ‘Of Mice and Men’ showing that Megadeth are back with a vengeance, and more than ready to reclaim their spot as one of metals most beloved bands, and although this won’t ever be considered their best album, it’s a welcome return to form.
Although it does begin to flag a little towards the end, The System Has Failed is a reasonable enough comeback album for Megadeth which nonetheless doesn't quite scratch the itch. With another Bush in the White House, there's plenty of real-world political shenanigans for Dave Mustaine to comment on, and unlike his recent foot-in-mouth incidents a lot of what he has to say will probably resonate with most listeners. Still, even though Vic Rattlehead is back in his business suit, the album doesn't quite measure up to Rust In Peace, or Peace Sells... But Who's Buying? - it kicks off with good material, but the band don't quite maintain that momentum over the running time.
Megadeth’s tenth studio album The System Has Failed was a largely superb record that picked up the sound that the band had started with The World Needs A Hero and paired out all the commercialism, made the guitar tones heavier and dirtier and injected some classic Thrash Metal attitude into the wonderful modern metal that frontman and primary songwriter Dave Mustaine had been coming out with at the time.

Interestingly, while The System Has Failed sounds like a revitalized Megadeth record, it actually began its life as a solo album from Dave Mustaine, and was the first ever Megadeth release not to feature long time bassist David Ellefson. Despite this inconvenient fact, The System Has Failed is a hugely exciting Megadeth album with some serious highlights and astonishing guitar work.

Album highlights include the fast and thrash influenced ‘Kick The Chair,’ ‘Blackmail The Universe,’ and ‘Back In The Day,’ which are still to this day some of the band’s finest work and must listen stuff for all Megadeth fans and more than welcome in any live setlist. Fans who prefer the material that the band made in the 80s should definitely check those songs out.

Unfortunately the album doesn’t retain that exact level of sheer quality throughout, otherwise it would be one of the bands best albums, as it stands it is just a very good album but not an all time classic. The album certainly did spark an upward trend in Megadeth releases and the next two albums along with this helped fully restore the public’s respect for Megadeth which was somewhat challenged on some of their previous works.

For fans of the band’s melodic and slower works from the nineties, there are songs like ‘Tears In A Vial,’ and ‘The Scorpion,’ which are full of brilliant guitar and strong vocals.

Overall, The System Has Failed maybe shouldn’t be the first Megadeth album that you pick up and the band have made better albums, but when you do get yourself a copy you will not be all that disappointed, especially with the aforementioned thrashier tracks.

Members reviews

In the months before this album came out, I was pretty strongly involved in the online metal community. Reading all the news articles, watching the artwork take shape and at last sampling the sound of the album with “Kick the Chair”. A further taste after the leaking of “Blackmail the Universe” convinced me that indeed Megadeth was truly back!

After devoting a lot of listening time to it, unfortunately the album does fall short of expectations. While light years ahead of the despairingly bland “The World Needs a Hero”, the cookie cutter monotony is replaced by glaringly obvious filler. The first track does indeed harken back to “Rust in Peace” with high speed and energy, and a shifting structure reminiscent of “Holy Wars”. The following track cuts back on the venom in lieu of tame hard rocking Megadeth more akin to their mid 90s output, before “Kick the Chair” returns to more aggressive ground. All good stuff but the album very quickly becomes a mixed bag after this.

“The Scorpion” is an odd one to work out and feels a little laborious, before “Tears in the Vial” brings us sharply back to the standard ‘deth vibe with better results. “I Know Jack” is a head scratching and seemingly pointless segue while the next two tracks are just a little cheesy, “Something That I’m Not” being an obvious dig at Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich, but lacking the stellar composition of tirades like ”Liar” (from the outstanding “So Far, So Good...So What!”. “Back in the Day" is a paean to the 80s metal scene, and acquits itself better but has an off putting “chanting" mid section. Things warm up again for “Truth Be Told" with another slamming number that works.

The final three tracks sadly seem to lack any cohesive focus or even a good riff or two, with “Shadow of Deth” seeing Mustaine reciting Psalm 23 with a dreadfully cheesy vocal effect bringing to mind the spoken part of “Five Magics” over some uninspired music. The successes seem to be when Dave sticks to what he does best and doesn’t veer off into uncharted territory, those songs gluing a messy album together. Dave got former (seems like another lifetime now!) guitarist Chris Poland’s to provide a few solos, and they are worth a mention. They add some much needed colour and bring in a feel of those first two albums enough to distract a little from some of the awkward material here. Not a bad album by any means, but noticeably patchy and in any case a welcome return from the band and I think Dave had stronger songs up his sleeve for the next lot of albums.

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