The System Has Failed


Sanctuary Records, 2004

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


We should be celebrating that The System Has Failed—and, for that matter, any album from Dave Mustaine and Megadeth post-2002—even exists. Having been diagnosed with an arm injury in 2002 that prevented him from playing guitar, Mustaine broke up the band he had fronted since the mid-’80s and focused on his recovery—which took considerably less time than doctors had predicted.

Originally planned to be a solo album (but changed to a Megadeth title due to contractual obligations), The System Has Failed proves one thing: Mustaine is Megadeth, and the other musicians who support him merely add to the flavor. But while this album contains a lot to celebrate, it does pale in comparison with some of the classics in Megadeth’s discography.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

After 20 years of slugging it out, Mustaine seems like, in terms of his music, he’s reached a happy medium between the all-out thrash side and a commercial bent to the songs. It’s not that you’re going to hear songs like “Die Dead Enough,” “Of Mice And Men” or “Tears In A Vial” any time soon on commercial radio, but there’s enough of a groove to them to suggest that they could have fit into the right format.

And the fact that Mustaine and, for this outing, his hired hands—guitarist Chris Poland, bassist Jimmie Lee Sloas and drummer Vinnie Colaiuta—are able to walk the two distinct styles of metal without losing any power is admirable. The simple fact is, this sound works for Megadeth, and works well—even though this could be seen as their angriest album since Rust In Peace.

There is plenty to enjoy on The System Has Failed—from the political anger in “Blackmail The Universe” to the catchy groove of “The Scorpion,” Mustaine and crew show they still know how to capture the listener’s attention. The problem, though, is maintaining that level of interest—and this is where the disc falls short.

Where earlier discs had songs that immediately jumped out at the listener and grabbed them by the throat, there is precious little on The System Has Failed that does this—a shame, since that is really where Mustaine’s true power lies. There aren’t nearly enough memorable songs to make this disc stand out—so while it’s extremely listenable, and Mustaine proves to be in quite possibly the finest voice he’s been in his career, the songs all tend to blend a bit into one another.

Make no mistake, The System Has Failed is not a terrible disc, and is one I’d definitely pop into a regular rotation in my stereo system. But it has all the markings of a “what might have been” disc, not one that should have been a celebration of Mustaine’s return to health and to the metal community.

Rating: B-

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