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Megadeth - The System Has Failed (Reissue)

The System Has Failed
by Dave Nowels at 21 February 2019, 2:03 AM

MEGADETH’s tenth release “The System Has Failed” is a bit of a conundrum. Originally released in 2014, it’s essentially a Dave Mustaine solo album. Mustaine was the only actual musician on the album credited as a “member” of MEGADETH. Despite having been a credited member for the first two albums, (“Killing is My Business”…, and “Peace Sells”), guitarist Chris Poland was regulated to just being a session player here. The album is also significant in the band’s history, as it’s the first without original bassist David Ellefson, and the first album after Mustaine had disbanded MEGADETH following his arm injury in 2002. With all that said, it’s a monster of an album and saw MEGADETH return the closest to its Thrash roots and signature sound than it had in years.

I won’t go into the details of the Mustaine/Ellefson split due to space constraints, but those interested should definitely look into their respective autobiographies. While some of the perspectives and particulars differ, the similarities are represented close enough to get a pretty clear picture of what was going on. For our purposes here, be assured that Jimmie Lee Sloas on bass, much like Poland and Colaiuta, does a fabulous job. Musically, the band is on top of their game. From the opening riffs of “Blackmail the Universe”, it’s apparent that Mustaine has something to say, and there’s possible hell to pay. “Die Dead Enough” and “Of Mice and Men” were the first songs from the album promoted via radio and video, and deservedly so. Yet, it’s “Back in the Day” that intrigues me the most today. There’s a melodic aspect that stands out as being unique.

So was “The System Has Failed” truly a return to Thrash? My verdict is a hesitant no. It’s why I find the album such a conundrum. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a damn good album, and heavy in all the right places. It’s still an album I listen to on a fairly regular basis, but it’s not really the same intensity as those first two albums. Essentially, where MEGADETH is today can be gauged by albums like this. It’s been an evolutionary process that was hit or miss. “Risk” was just that, and effectively more of a miss. “The World Needs A Hero” took some of the elements of “Risk” a bit heavier and was more of a hit. “The System Has Failed” combines the positives from all three, and effectively shines. Listen to “Dystopia” and “System…” back to back. There are stunning similarities in the stylistic approach. I think this album ultimately defined the sound Mustaine sought and continues to tweak to this day.

As far as highlights, in addition to “Of Mice and Men”, “Die Dead Enough”, “Shadow of Deth” and “My Kingdom” are my go-to tracks. For this reissue, BMG has included live versions of “Time/Use the Man” and “Conjuring” which round out this one hour collection. “The System Has Failed” was a significant album during a turbulent era in MEGADETH’s history. It’s one that can often be overlooked, though this welcome reissue should rectify that among Metal fans.

Songwriting: 8
Originality: 8
Memorability: 9
Production: 9

4 Star Rating

1. Blackmail the Universe
2. Die Dead Enough
3. Kick the Chair
4. The Scorpion
5. Tears In a Vial
6. I Know jack
7. Back in the Day
8. Something That I’m Not
9. Truth Be Told
10. Of Mice and Men
11. Shadow of Deth
12. My Kingdom
13. Time/Use the Man (Live)
14. Conjuring (Live)
Dave Mustaine – Guitar, Vocals
Chris Poland – Guitar
Jimmie Lee Sloas – Bass
Vinnie Colaiuta – Drums
Record Label: BMG


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Edited 01 December 2022

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