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Megadeth - The System Has Failed (CD)

The System Has Failed
by Orpheus Spiliotopoulos at 16 September 2004, 1:53 PM

I recall the day back in the mid 90s when I first listened to Megadeth's Rust In Peace (1990). It was that moment in my life when I - like almost every usual metalhead - totally surrendered to the ever-thrashing hymns Megadeth had once written. I started digging deeper and deeper into Megadeth's pit of wonders as time went by and also caught up with what Megadeth was up to at that point. Album after album it seemed to me as if there was something going wrong. Something just wasn't right. “Cryptic Writings (1997) was probably the final joy I'd get out of Megadeth and “Risk (1999) surely killed that joy when it was released. The band's mainman, Dave Mustaine (guitar, vocals), always seemed to be a really questionable core element of the band's entire course from day zero. No doubt, he's one of the most important Heavy Metal musicians in the genre's history book and probably Metallica would have never taken off if it weren't for him (back in the early 80s).
Three years ago and after a really bad musical experience (“Risk) Dave Mustaine and his band-mates (now they're all x-band-mates) released “The World Needs A Hero (2001) which was quite a relief for the fans, in years. Though it definitely didn't sell as much as Megadeth's breath taking albums such as “Rust In Peace, “Countdown To Extinction (1992) and “Youthanasia (1994), it did sort of put a smile back on people's faces (it definitely did put a smile on my face although time proved that the album lacks of endurance through time). Alas a couple of months after “The World Needs A Hero had been released, the Heavy Metal community was struck by the shocking news that Dave Mustaine had injured his arm very badly and had stated that it was unfortunately time for Megadeth to become a memory of the past.
Well, music is certainly a field full of bad but also good surprises. So, 2,5 years after that Mustaine returned (after intense physiotherapy and some drug rehab) to prove he can still kick ass and that if he's back, Megadeth's back too! Unfortunately though a serious clash with longtime Megadeth bass player David Ellefson took place leading the last out of the band and into the courtroom against Mustaine. Well, didn't I mention Megadeth was always a place of troublesome arguments? Nevertheless Mustaine carried on to create a new album together with x-Megadeth guitarist Chris Poland, drummer Vinnie Colaiuta , and bassist Jimmy Sloas though these musicians were called in just for the studio recording of the album and nothing further than that. A lot of speculation rose as to who else would be in the band in order heat out on a forthcoming tour. Annihilator's main axeman Jeff Waters was reportedly in talks with Dave Mustaine but eventually Eidolon's guitar man, Glen Drover, filled in the ranks of second guitarist for Megadeth. A surprise, for sure, was the return of drummer Nick Menza who had left the band back in the 90s when he wanted to follow a career as a singer (!). On bass, James MacDonough was brought in leaving Iced Earth's mainman John Schaffer with (again) one member short in his band.
“The System Has Failed is what's under our magnifying glass right now and to tell you the truth, when I was first called for a preview listening session a couple of months ago, I was really not sure what to expect. Well, taking it from the cover and album name and moving inwards I must admit it has all the typical looks of aMegadeth album. But what's inside?
We've got a combo of songs reminding me various Megadeth albums and songs which simply don't sound that familiar to me in terms of what I've always been used to from this band… For starters, “Blackmail The Universe is a fast (but not that fast after all) song with catchy riffs which sort of reminds me something between “Rust In Peace and “Countdown To Extinction but…nothing really superb. “Die Dead Enough though catchy and radio-friendly is probably what I'd call “the commercial song of this album. It's kind of weird though because it doesn't remind me of Megadeth at all. I mean, it's cool as a song (I guess) but it's sort of too cheesy to be a Megadeth song…The only thing I can resemble it to is “Youthanasia's “Family Tree probably.
“Kick The Chair on the other hand is a pure “Rust In Peace song. No doubt, this song could have easily been on that album. Fast shooting, exactly in the same vein as “R.I.P.. Definitely a song I like on this album. “The Scorpion is a song which reaches out and touches a very sensitive issue (probably always related to Mustaine's rough life) which is none other than that of drugs. This is probably the most melodic song on the album with keyboards (appearing here and there) creating a gray atmosphere along with Mustaine's vocals and riffs. This song could have also been a song off “Cryptic Writings or “Youthanasia.
“Tears In A Vial is one of these songs which make me press the “next button on my player. Nope, it didn't thrill me at all. “I Know Jack is a guitar and drum intro for “Back In The Day which is a pretty fast track with cool guitar riffs…until it changes suddenly into an Iron Maiden-alike kind of song. I personally didn't like that change, not because it reminded me of Iron Maiden (which is one of my favorite bands) but it simply doesn't suit Megadeth.
“Something I'm not again reminds me of “Youthanasia. At least it's got the typical Megadeth sound though it's not a fast song. Note: I have the feeling that this song is dedicated (lyrically speaking) by Dave Mustaine to a lot of his x-band-mates. “Truth Be Told and “Mice And Men follow the same uncertainty of sometimes being really cool listening to and the next moment being a bit dull. “Shadow Of Death is a really appetizer intro but “My Kingdom Come is not quite the “awesome song you'd expect to follow.
Overall, we're talking about a “system that though it has “not failed, it doesn't manage to fulfill my hunger for good, qualitative Megadeth music. I believe it is definitely better than “Risk but I'm not sure I like it more than “A World Needs A Hero which of course are no match for all their albums up to “Cryptic Writings. Give “The System Has Failed time and you might like it a lot or…not that much. Time will tell and there's surely plenty of time ahead to expect a killer album from Dave Mustaine in the future.

3 Star Rating

Blackmail The Universe
Die Dead Enough
Kick The Chair
The Scorpion
Tears In A Vial
I Know Jack
Back In The Day
Something I'm Not
Truth Be Told
Of Mice And Men
Shadow Of Death
My Kingdom Come
Dave Mustaine - Guitar & Vocals
Chris Poland - Guitar
Jimmy Sloas - Bass
Vinnie Colaiuta - Drums
Record Label: Sanctuary Records


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