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While this record is quite a bit more aggressive, especially compared to the last few albums, it's not up to par with the '80s material. Dave's still holding onto some artifacts of the past that could definitely be done away with and I doubt few fans would care. I really don't understand why the majority of the '80s thrash bands turned into second rate '90s arena rock bands, but that's neither here nor there.
Whether it's because this album doesn't have a legacy of 20 years or because I just want Dave to snarl, scrap the catchy choruses, and get back to his punky thrash metal roots, it's hard to tell, but this certainly beats the bomb that was Risk. This album started a streak of decent Megadeth releases which include United Abominations, Endgame, and Th1rt3en. In a way, while they do not compare to KIMB, PSBWB, SFSGSW, and RIP, they are impressive in the sense that Dave & co. can make a series of records as cleverly written as those.
As far as the solos go, they are quite an improvement over those on The World Needs a Hero, but they still aren't the unashamed shredding on the first four records. That said, it's amazing that Chris Poland plays on this record, though it's sad he wasn't brought back into the band. As far as I remember/know, he was the subject of the song Liar off of SFSGSW, so it's great that he and Dave can make up and make one last album to show they don't hate each other anymore, if I'm correct that he was the subject of Liar, anyways. Now all that's left is for Mustaine, Ellefson, Hetfield, and Ulrich to make a Metallideth record, though I wouldn't mind more kick ass Mustaine material afterwards.
The production on the album is nice and shiny, but definitely not poppy. The songwriting is a nice mix of the earlier straight-for-the-throat Megadeth mixed with the more accessible mid- period when Dave was writing more to the arena rock crowd with poppy hooks and the like. Jimmy Sloas seems a tad more laid back than Ellefson, and while he's a competent bassist, his tone and style simply doesn't compete. Dave Mustaine does exhibit more of his characteristic snarl than on previous records, which is great. Vinnie Colaiuta is a lot more relaxed and looser than Jimmy DeGrasso. Chris Poland makes a nice return to the fold, though it's disappointing that it wasn't more permanent to see what he'd do on subsequent releases.
In closing, I find this album quite a bit more enjoyable than all of the '90s output. I'd put it just a smidge above Countdown to Extinction. Anyways, get it if you'd like a mix of the early thrashier days mixed with the catchier mid-period in a way that works.
Blackmail the Universe
Kick the Chair
Back in the Day
Originally published in "The Wormwood Chronicles."
Whew boy, where do I start with this? Um, ok I guess for those of you serious headbangers that haven't at least been giving Megadeth the time of day since about '95 or so...Megadeth has been putting out some crap for about the past 7 or 8 years leading up to this release . "Cryptic Writings," although blessed with tunes like "She-Wolf," was tainted by country superstar picker Dan Huff being tapped as the record's producer. There's a lot of crap on there. Even songs like "Disintegrators," which was an all-out thrash attempt, was lacking in balls. That album's follow-up, "Risk," was more of the worst, spewing out vain attempts at radio-friendliness and mellowed-out heaviness (what a concept!) that to be honest, just didn't sit well in my gullet. Finally, even though my buddies tended to love it, I thought that "World Needs A Hero" was a bland and boring attempt of Dave saying "Sorry everyone, I fucked up on the last two."
Now, fast forward to 2004. Dave Mustaine is back in action after sidelining Megadeth due to an arm injury that prevented him from playing guitar. Dave Ellefson is no longer in the band, and Mustaine seems content to use session musicians (among them former Deth head Chris Poland on lead guitar) on this new disc. As far as the songs go, they are still suffering from a bit of blandness that goes along with Dave thinking that he is radio-friendly...but...the majority of these songs could kick the ass of most of the "World Needs a Hero" material. I mean, the opening track, "Blackmail the Universe" is stellar, perfect for any old school Megadeth fan, as is third track "Kick the Chair." First single "Die Dead Enough" is what happens when Dave tries to be catchy and does it right. Simply put, the track is pure Megadeth through and through as well as being so infectious that I still would crank the local rock radio station when it came on, even though I'd been hearing it for months and months.
After that, it's fairly hit or miss, with Mustaine and co. rolling out every trick they got and trying desperately to make a great album out of this. I don't think they succeeded in making it a great album, but I do think it's a "better than average" album. In other words, I feel that this album is a step in the right direction and I am looking forward to hearing more. My worst gripe though, is that there really needs to be some thought put into the idea of a new guitar tone...the sound of the axes is just too damn soft. They need something chunkier and more brutal than what they currently are using. Dave used to be the heaviest fucking guitarist on the planet, and that throne belongs to him, but he needs to prove that he belongs there. He's been gone too long.
I remember back in 2004 how excited I was to hear about this album. Like many, I was hoping this would be the return to form for the band we'd all been hoping for. While 2001's The World Needs A Hero was a big improvement on Risk, it was nothing special. Fortunately, The System Has Failed is a substantial improvement.
By far the album's best moment comes in the form of Kick The Chair. This song kicks your ass right from the moment it starts and does not let up once thorughout it's length. It has rightfully become a mainstay of the band's set list and I hope it stays there for years to come.
Other highlights include opener Blackmail The Universe, Back In The Day and Tears In A Vial. Back In The Day in paricular is a very good power metal song celebrating the glory of metal. Mercifully, the song is nowhere as cheesy as similar opuses by other bands I can think of (I'm looking at you, Manowar!) It comes off very well live with the whole crowd singing along.
Unfortunately, this album has quite a bit of filler. The worst examples are I Know Jack and Shadow Of Death. These can barely even be called songs. If sections of these were used as intros for a couple of the other tracks on the album, I perhaps wouldn't mind so much. But they do not warrant album space of their own!
Most of the other songs are pretty mediocre particularly Something I'm Not and Shadow Of Deth. Truth Be Told is quite decent once it speeds up but it does not mesh well with the song's first half. The Scorpion and Of Mice And Men have potential to be good but end being up plodding and lacking in speed.
I would also like to mention the return of Chris Poland on lead guitar. It's nice to have another previous member of the band on this record. Although Glen Drover has proven to be an excellent guitarist in his own right, it's a shame Poland was not on the accompanying tour for this album. At least there would have been some consistency between lineups since the tour lineup for The System Has Failed was completly different from the studio one!
Despite its flaws, this is a solid Megadeth album. Anyone who enjoys albums such as Countdown To Extinction, Youthanasia and Cryptic Writings will find much to enjoy here. Even those who crave for Rust In Peace 2 are likely to find at least a song or two they are fond of.
Megadeth are back (well Dave Mustaine is anyway) and the band is sounding more metal than they have in a long, long time. I have been a long time Megadeth fan so this review does contain a little bias – that in itself is not that uncommon in unofficial reviews. The System Has Failed isn’t a return to form or a return to its roots. Simply put – The System Has Failed is modern Megadeth with thrashier tendencies. Don’t expect Rust in Peace 2 or anything like that.
Musically, The System Has Failed is varied in its form and presentation. There are tracks that feel more hard rock than metal and there is also tracks that sound thrash more than what we are used to from newer Megadeth. The guitar parts are definitely leaning towards a thrashier form than found on the last few albums. Part of this is the return of Chris Poland for the recording sessions. His presence is felt considerably when one listens to all the leads that are present in the guitar work. Dave Mustaine’s guitar work is well constructed and the structure of the songs has taken another step up since Megadeth’s last album. More of a modern thrash sound for the guitars, if you will.
One element that The System Has Failed lacks is phenomenal drumming parts. Now that Dave Mustaine is writing almost all of the music himself (not that he didn’t do it for the most part prior) the drums don’t feel as expressive as they previously did. Neither does the bass lines – although the bass parts do feel a little more natural than the drum parts.
Another aspect musically that I found confusing was the use of keyboards on the song “The Scorpion.” It really threw me off my rocker because I thought Dave despised using keyboards. It’s a interesting addition – as far as I can hear it’s only on one track and it makes it stand out. I like it, personally. I find it adds a little variety to the album.
Vocally, Dave Mustaine is still the same old gruff and spastic singing. Either you like his singing or you don’t. It can grow on you (it did me) but on first listen it may sound a little strange. It’s an old school thrash idea of singing and he has kept it for a long time.
There are a couple of moments in the song writing I would like to make comments about. First of all, I personally don’t like it when a band takes a full on political stance and blurts it out into the open. I think Megadeth are one of the best politically influenced bands that avoids this. They make political statements that are ambiguous enough that the listener has to put forth a little thought and opinion. It makes you think about politics not just follow politics. I also love the personal issues that are brought up in songs like “Of Mice and Men” or “Something I’m Not.” (I believe that song to be a personal stab at Metallica – but who’s to say?)
There are some moments on this album that I went…WHA? “I Know Jack” in particular made me stop – it’s kind of out of place on the album and slows the flow of the album down. It’s a cool guitar line but overall since the first listen I skip it.
Overall this is a particularly interesting album – a modern thrash album of political and personal elements. It is almost a return to form for Megadeth, but not quite. There are moments of great pleasure and moments of disappointment scattered throughout the album. It’s a great starting place for new Megadeth fans – but it’s still not going to thrill the old ones.
Songs to check out: Blackmail the Universe, Kick the Chair, Back in the Day.
Some may laude this as being a monumental comeback, others may condemn it as being a complete waste of CD space, but I prefer to let the music do the talking. One of the things that truly helps to separate this album from the rather unsuccessful resurrection attempt that was “The World Needs a Hero” is the one time return of original axe man Chris Poland. His influence, combined with a more healthy set of riffs and a more rational take on political influences help put this album up there with better works such as “Countdown to Extinction” and “Youthanasia”.
Chris Poland’s soloing style has truly evolved since he left the MegaDeth fold in the late 80s. I’ve delved into some of his solo work and it is highly Jeff Beck influenced, which I regard as a positive. We see a good deal of that influence present in his lead work here, as there is a strong amount of attention to giving every note an almost vocal quality and to methodically place the shred lines where they will have the most punch. Highlights in the soloing department can be found on “Die Dead Enough”, “Kick the Chair” and “Back in the Day”.
In the riff department, we actually have a solid collection of gems, though they are not quite the masterpieces that we saw out of Mustaine in the 80s. “Back in the Day” has a strong set of inspired guitar lines, many of them suggesting a quasi-power metal approach rather than the thrashing efforts of the past. The intro to “Die Dead Enough” sounds like it was partially borrowed from Hanger 18, the rest is pretty much mid-tempo riffing similar to work on Youthanasia. “Kick the Chair” is the only song that crosses into thrash territory, although I would have liked it if they had ratcheted up the tempo a bit more, and gone for broke on the double bass drum in a few sections. “Blackmail the Universe” and “Tears in a Vial” both have some solid moments on the riff department, though sometimes they are drowned out by the vocals, keyboards, and the news broadcast sounds.
However, we have some songs that just don’t qualify as being up to the MegaDeth standard and sound like weaker moments from “Cryptic Writings” and the last album. “My Kingdom Come” starts off with a nice single note driving line, but keeps it going a bit too long. After the first half of the song, things pick up a bit for the solo, but by then most people would probably lose interest and that slow as hell line comes right back. “The Scorpion” has some good ideas, though they are a bit under-developed and the song tends to drag a bit. “Of Mice and Men” has a stupid sounding vocal intro that is right out of the “Cryptic Writings” dumper, and what follows is catchy but way too repetitious. The rest of the album is too rock and not enough metal, or pointless interludes that don’t really go anywhere.
On the lyrical end, UltraBoris pretty much covered the problems with the news broadcast sections. But I would also like to point out that although Dave Mustaine has still not proven himself to be very apt at articulating political opinions (something that Maiden has proven to be the best at), he has evolved from the rambling moonbat that he was one previous works. The world issues that are presented in this album are not the fault of one man, but a product of an entirely self-contradictory system, one that seeks to be a humanitarian leader and yet simultaneously compromises with or makes sacrifices for evil men and governments. Bill Clinton is as much, if not more to blame as Bush for the mess that currently exists in the Middle East. His presentation of the facts may not be lyrically savvy, but at least now they aren’t hypocritical.
In conclusion, this is not a great comeback, but it is not a complete throwaway. I recommend this to fans of Youthanasia and Countdown, but I also recommend getting a second hand copy of it as I can’t justify paying full price for an album that only has 6 truly great songs, though many of the other songs do have some excellent lead breaks in them.
First of all before I start this review, I’d like to say this album isn’t too thrashy and isn’t an R. I. P 2.Anyone who expects that is coming in for another disappointment. Here is my view though, I think if Megadeth made let’s say, 100 Rust in Pieces then that would just bring down the brilliance and utter beauty of the original! So Deth move on to a more mainstream though still pretty much heavy and entertaining sound, this doesn’t make me unhappy (even though I liked their thrash more)! I don’t find anything wrong with this album. There’s a lot of diversity here and its more straight-up metal than anything Deth have done. You just have to be open-minded to know how good it is, it has its low points but come on, most albums are that way! This applies to all kinds of metal whether New or old. St. Anger was pretty bad though I didn't want to compare it with any of their other albums cause that was its true worth! Surely, Deth don’t deserve the same fate. Anyway, I’ll move on to the music:-
Blackmail the universe is a good heavy number that has some news-headliner things in the background. I am not really a fan of these kinds of things but the riffing here is pretty good and goes along with the words spoken by the announcer. Mustaine's vocals aren't exactly top notch but are pretty bearable, a bit too melodic for this kind of heavy riffing and sometimes I cant hear his voice (maybe drowned in the guitar rush?) but besides that the song is pretty good. Next is Die Dead Enough, and I don’t know why the heck people hate this song so much cause I found it to be catchy, nicely melodic and it also has some good solo's. Dave’s vox get annoying sometimes but are pretty good. I don’t like “I, I, I" chant.
Next is Kick the Chair which would qualify as the best in this album, its heavy and Mustaine’s vocals are aggressive on this one, some good riffing present here. The Scorpion is a very quirky, strange kind of song but it grows on you the more you listen to it. Dave’s vocals are bad here but the guitars are still good. Tears in a vial is up next and is pretty boring and un-memorable though the melody is ok, the songs stretched too much and is a very passable tune. I know Jack is a needles little interlude that is far too short and the CD could well have done without it (What was Dave thinking?). Back in The Day gets the CD rolling again, the song is heavy and has a really good tune to it, and the lyrics are glorifying metal, something like Manowar or the likes to show their power metal now.
Something that I'm not is a not-too impressive mediocre number on the CD, Nothing too impressive here and the lyrics are somewhat unconnected. Truth be told picks up and it’s a heavy tune that reeks of Rust in Piece (well ok, not THAT much), there’s heavy riffing here and some good guitar work. Dave’s vox are angry and I love the line "Hells open for business now!” the song though is a bit long but nonetheless stands as another impressive song. Of Mice and Men sounds classic, really nice song on display here (surely no.2). I don’t know why people hate this song because it’s extremely catchy and has some good guitar work and a great solo. Dave’s vocals take the melodic edge here but they are pleasurable to listen to, the lyrics are very nicely structured out.
Shadow of Deth is another needless interlude. It features some good guitar work but just ends up boring the listener; they could have used those riffs on another song instead. My Kingdom provides the finishing touch to the album and is a mediocre song but all in all a good ending to a enjoyable album.
So, that concludes this review. The System Has Failed is a good album, but only to the open minded. A new direction and a varied album for Megadeth and this possibly could be the last (judging Mustaine doesn't go back on his words!).
I’ve never really been a fan of Megadeth’s middle age stuff (read: after Rust In Peace). That stuff was easy to dismiss after just a few listens – records should have more to them than just some inspiring Marty Friedman solos. The System Has Failed kicked back from the far side of the grave, slaying most of the previous albums – still it’s not that good. I mean I listen to the album, thinking this song isn’t that great, pressing forward and still I like it. Dave Mustaine has recovered some of his old forms, still keeping the melodic edge the later albums have been filled with.
Dave Mustaine always has been known for/good at masking pop song with a thrash outfit. Now that outfit crackles and the structural skeleton surfaces a few too many times. Die Dead Enough seems to have been shortened in order to fit single length and the four last verses of Back in the Day is pure theft. That melody is stolen (or “borrowed”) from Uriah Heep’s “Lady in Black”. The intro to My Kingdom Come is so close to Virgin Steele’s “I Will Come for You” that Dave probably has to pay them royalties… The song writing just isn’t on top; most songs are no more than decent. The news broadcasts are just desperate attempts to hide this flaw but they don’t really make anything better. Extinction camps for spoken parts should be arranged.
We all know that Dave’s become a sell-out, although he refuses the thought by saying “I didn’t cut my hair”. He went from riff thick thrash to great thrash to pop and now to power metal. He sings about Lars Ulrich selling out, oh the irony. There was a time when Dave stated that no respectable hard rock band ever used keyboards. Now he’s doing exactly that. The System Has Failed is filled with keyboard loops, samplings and other stupid sound effects. Personally I don’t have any problems with the keyboards it’s the other stuff that bothers me.
In his attempt to pay back the debts to his label Mustaine even incorporated a banjo on this album – which was supposed to be a thrash recording. Who’d think that? It works out rather well though, as it’s pretty much inaudible. I mean both the banjo and the thrash. Actually Tad Morose makes thrashier music than Megadeth nowadays. No matter what, The System Has Failed is an incredible improvement after the few most recent abortions.
The thrash has become power metal, the melodies are the basis, harmonies are where riffs used to hang around. Marty Friedman is gone. Back is Poland who does a good job, but both he and Dave seem to have forgotten about riffs. There’s one intro riff to Blackmail the Universe, but they use it throughout the song – and it’s not that good. Fact is, that’s the only good part of that song. I don’t think the number of riffs ever been so low before. Of course leads and solos are great, the way the guitars harmonize with the music is great too, something that never happened before. Still this is Megadeth – we want riffs. Dave said that Metallica would run out of his riffs. He was right. Now he’s not far away from doing so himself. There are more riffs in one song of the Last Rites demo than on this entire album.
Flashiness has won over quality. I don’t mean wankery, but it’s not that way. It’s more like solos, leads, repeat with extended tones – making them gleam somehow. Before I would’ve said Megadeth – good guitars = suck. That’s changed. The melody is a competitor for the attention and the vocals have improved. According to Dave himself it’s because he wasn’t singing for two years, not even in church. That was supposed to strengthen his voice. Personally I don’t know if the improvement should be accredited to resting or the mixing and sound effects. At least his voice is far from its former annoying standards, he hits more notes than ever before and has more power. Lacks the anger, though. But no Megadeth without some jenka dance, two steps forward, and one step back. On Blackmail the Universe Dave sets a new low-mark for vocals. Holy shit, it’s that bad.
It’s sad that most songs start out great – or at least promising, and then nothing more (positive) happens. Scorpion starts interestingly with a riff and then ends the same way, with some annoying ticking clock. The bridges and transitions are painfully apparent; they don’t have the flow they’re supposed to have. Being influenced by your earlier albums is allowed, but Dave, don’t exaggerate. Most of the stuff that isn’t taken from other bands was originally on Youthantasia, Cryptic Writings and The World Needs a Hero. But really, anyone will find twelve catchy, easily digested songs on first listen.
On the other hand one will also find a much slower Megadeth than history awarded us with. There’s much plodding and pure crap. Actually I think this album could’ve been edited down to an EP – but that wouldn’t have rendered enough money I suppose. Without the news broadcasts, without Blackmail the Universe, the pointless 40 seconds long, plodding, useless rubbish with sound effects that is I Know Jack, the dying-after-the-intro, dead boring Of Mice and Men, the prayer that is Shadow of Deth and My Kingdom Come that never ends… An EP would’ve had higher quality, and a playing length that better fitted said quality!
But The System Has Failed was still a pleasant surprise after Megadeth’s recent albums. For the first time Dave isn’t following Metallica, although he still dwells in the radio song land. But Vic is back, and that’s all that matters! My only real problem is that this album is in fact not too good, still I spin it every now and then - with notable pleasure. It's easy music folks, and it's Megadeth. Sure, without thrash, anger or riffs, but Megadeth.
Okay, I've come to the conclusion that this album is not a flop by any means, but neither is it the amazing comeback I was so excited about. The only truly phenomenal moment is the decisive charge forward of Mustaine energies and intelligence that starts us off. "Blackmail the Universe" crosses multiple terrains of past albums. Guitars primed and razor sharp to a degree not felt since the raw and crippling sounds of "So Far, So Good... So What!". Wrapped up tightly in a "Holy Wars..." structure and perfected with Chris Poland's confident, trademark solos bringing you right back to the "Peace Sells..." days. It's inspiring to say the least.
But the brief moment of glory is not shared by the rest of the album's runtime. Our only other heavy track comes in the form of "Kick the Chair", which bridges the gap from "Countdown to Extinction" finding its way to the angry edge of earlier albums, with its rapid back to back solos reminiscent of “Hanger 18”. The rest of the album hasn’t quite got this feel down, but should be generally accessible to anybody with a liking for any album after the barrier breaking “Rust in Peace”. They bridge the vibrant signature sounds of yore with styling that feeds off some up-to-date sources but without going as far as watering down or taking over the Mustaine powerhouse.
The album carries with it a slew of backend missteps, in the form of two wholly irritating songs and two directionless interludes. “Of Mice and Men” is built upon its chorus, which is not good when it reaches down to the lowest cringe worthy depths of modernized harmonies. A miniscule solo is unable to glue this shoddy job together at all. Along with “My Kingdom”, the album ends with hurried and vacuous arrangements. The two interludes are terminally pointless, and even though “Shadow of Deth” threatens to go somewhere interesting, it just can’t be arsed to.
Nothing near a “Rust in Peace 2”, but it does have its special qualities and wraps up Megadeth’s career as a whole, even though it is just Dave with (bar Chris Poland) a band of new unknowns. Long term fans of the band will find something to enjoy here, though anybody who didn’t like anything Dave and co. released into the 90s will once more be disappointed, no matter with what he puts out these days it seems.
Okay, so we all know this is the second time Dave Mustaine told us that he will return to the tr00 path of Megadeth, after certain deviations. Now, I haven't heard the last "comeback" album - "The World Needs A Hero", I think it was - nor have I heard the deviations, except like one song off of "Cryptic Writings", so at this point I'm not that educated in Megadeth's past history, I just got a few classics. But now I heard a few songs off of this album and thought that it didn't sound at all as bad as some people seem to think, and decided to pick this up, also because of constant nagging from the proprietor of my local record store, and he rarely fails me in purchase recommendations.
So, what do we have here? Well... it's Megadeth, that's for sure. It's the same band that blasted out thrash classics such as "Rust In Peace" and more, with the technical recognizable riffing style, countless screaming guitar solos and Dave's oddball vocals - and I think he's got a kickass voice, although of course he doesn't snarl as viciously as he did back in the day on classics like "Black Friday". "First take out the organs then cut off the head", this is not, at all.
But while this is undoubtedly as "Megadeth" as Dave promised, it's in no way thrash. Well, some of the riffs on "Blackmail The Universe" and "Kick The Chair" for example have pretty similar riff constructions to songs like, say, "Black Friday" again, but it seems much weaker and kinda recycled. Otherwise, Davey goes from a number of styles. There's your occasional heavy/power metal moments ("Back In The Day"), and then some crap that sounds almost like pop or nu-metal ("Die Dead Enough"... satan, that's a horrible song. The chorus of "Of Mice And Men" also falls into this category) - though that's a damn good song aside from that chorus. Nice chronological build-up in the lyrics and great driving riffs underneath.
Other mentionable tracks are "The Scorpion", which silly effects aside has some damn good vocal lines. That chorus-ish part ("As I climb onto your back, I will promise not to sting!") is strangely epic and very powerful, and overall the song flows nicely.
"Truth Be Told" has a gay acoustic intro which suddenly kicks into that raging chorus, and when it gets going owns pretty damn well, with some nice soloing and speedy thrashy riffage. Good stuff.
Though the best songs on here are "Kick The Chair" - that final solo section is total ownage - and "Back In The Day", which also features total ownage in the ending section, a huge, layered, epic verse praising the glory of metal which just totally manages to capture the essense of true metal right there. I'm close to goosebumps when I listen to it, seriously.
So, what do we have here? Well... Dave, in his constant strife to be better than Metallica is more obvious than ever here. Metallica cut their hair and play nu-metal, Dave stays metal and lets the hair stay on. Dave writes pissed and inspired songs, Metallica write whiny bullshit with no heart put into the songwriting. Metallica nowadays just seem so goddamn fake, and even if all the songs on "The System Has Failed" aren't exactly pure metal, he's bluntly honest, and it's all the real deal. Except "Die Dead Enough", which should be on the "I'm madly in anger with you" album. Another thing that separates them is that Dave Mustaine packs this release full of kickass guitar solos, while Lars and his fellaters... didn't. Die, you danish fuck.
But yeah, everyone knows that Metallica sucks. What you need to know is that the new Megadeth is different, but way, way better than the other less-than-thrash band of the two titans beginning with M.
Yes, I think you should get this.
Firstly, Megadeth (and Dave as it were), are basically god to me. So, while I like pretty much anything Megadeth, I'm also damned picky. Biased as this may be, as a Megadeth fan, I know what I'm talking about (at least for the most part).
While we'd all like to see another Rust In Peace, we might as well all shut-up and get over the fact that RIP has already happened, no member of any band likes writing the same crap over and over again, they have to grow a little. Unfortunately, Megadeth's growing came in tumor form with Risk (even though I like some of that disk), and let's face it, World Needs A Hero didn't cut it either.
The System Has Failed, however, was a bit more than I expected, and about as good as I had hoped for. Finally, Dave is heard snarling through a couple songs, most notably, Kick The Chair, which thunders by all too quickly with...(could it be??)... RIP-style riffing! Actual Thrash Metal songs pop up through the course of the album, including Blackmail the Universe (although the voice-over story therein lasts too long for my tastes), Back In The Day, and the interludey I Know Jack has decent riffing. These tracks could have come from an album linking RIP and CTE.
The Scorpion (my favorite track here), Die Dead Enough, Tears In A Vial, and Something That I'm Not could've come from Youthanasia. Especially considering how many unreleased (on full-length albums) tracks exist from that era (including Crown of Worms & New World Order). Plus, they'd fit nicely onto that disk.
Of Mice And Men & Truth Be Told are alright, if relatively unnoticable tracks. Almost like they're filler drifting from CTE on through Cryptic Writings. Shadow Of Deth and My Kingdom Come seem like leftovers from TWNAH, and while I like SOD (um, the song just mentioned, not the band--although Scott Ian and company are entertaining, too) for it's overall sound, I feel a tad cheated that it's just a fuckin Psalm from the bible rather than a wholly new song.
Overall, it's better than the last two releases, and as close as I think we're gonna get to a full length album containing a sound similar to Hidden Treasures (which is just below RIP as my favorite release from Megadeth). So it's supposed to be the last Megadeth? Dave could've ended it with something worse. Much much worse. This is the best since CW, containing some surprise riffing and energy (and snarling!!) going way back to RIP. Megadeth, Anthrax, OverKill fans and fans of more "traditional" metal should at least give it a listen. Unlike Suktallica, or Larstallica, or whatever the hell Metallica should really be called, Dave has at least proven that he has the ability to write heavy music without coming off with looking retarded or like he's trying too damn hard. "So in anger with you???!!" I can't believe I used to like that shitty band!
After miraculously recovering from his seemingly-dehabilitating injury that supposedly caused him to bow-out of the metal scene, Dave knew what he had to do; Go into the studio and record another album. Full of both political and religious references, the aformentioned two themes seem to set the tone for this album. It's supposed to be the last album released under the Megadeth name, but then again, so was Rude Awakening...
Oh, and before I start the review, I'd just like to say that the appearance of Clinton, Bush and Rumsfield on the cover art is ingenius and couldn't have come at a better time.
Ahem. After a spoken intro that I usually end up skipping, we jump into the meat of the first track and tour namesake, Blackmail The Universe. This is, to me, very reminiscent of Holy Wars; In terms of both theme and music, although this is less catchy than its classic predecessor. The lyrics are nice and funny ("I red white and blew it..."), exhibiting the trademark Mustaine sarcasm factor. Overall, it's pretty good, and sets a hopeful tone for the rest of the album to follow.
Die Dead Enough comes next, and this happens to be my favourite track of the album. After a guitar-slightly technoish intro, and the use of some cool keyboards, we're dropped right into Dave's vocals over the guitar riff. It works perfectly in my eyes, and while this is a slower song than BTU, it's so much catchier. Some may find the chorus a bit repetitive, I think it's the best chorus of the album; Very melodic and catchy at the same time, two plusses in my book. Another verse, chorus, yeah... Then the keyboards come back in, before things slow down for Dave to deliver some menacing vibes in his vocals before the solo. After the solo (Which is fairly energetic, but forgettable), we're treated to a cool "Iy-iy-iy" part....then the song ends for me. The last part doesn't really do much for me at all, but the rest makes up for it. And the song's about getting revenge...always a plus. ;)
Kick The Chair, Mustaine's rant on today's justice system, came to my ears at just the right time; Thanks to that, I realized one thing: Dave is so f-ing right. The courts are bullshit nowadays, but that's a very non-musical discussion, so I'll skip it. What we have here is the closest the album gets to a real thrash number; The intro is fairly heavy and sets a good tone, but I've never been one for the "start-stop-start" riffs. It's okay, though. It gets better when the second riff kicks in, before providing a vantage point for Mustaine's vocals. It's a mildly catchy song at the verse, and somewhat catchier at the chorus, so it can keep your attention. I really like the "The system's for sale!" part, though. At the end of the song, Mustaine and Poland solo-off in a way reminiscent of Hangar 18; This is no Hangar 18, but it's still a good little number.
Track four, The Scorpion. It starts off with sounds of little kids on a playground (I know....I don't understand it either), and a riff that seems to fade in and out of existence, and follows into the second guitar, drums and a keyboard somewhere in there. Finally, we reach the uneasy vocal line, which, unfortunately, moves a little too slow for my liking. It does set up some good vibes for the upcoming chorus, though; Happily, the chorus is rather catchy and mildly memorable. The song as a whole could have worked, but as it stands, it's just too sluggish for my overall liking.
Ah...Tears In A Vial, either a very liked or very hated song, depending on your viewpoint. The opening guitar and vocals feel almost upbeat, despite the subject matter; The song can be interperted as several things. Losing someone you love, accepting change, or, knowing Mustaine, drugs. Whatever the case may be, this is another catchy song, with a nice solo and some good speed near the end. The chorus is one of the better on the album, I find. It's worth a listen to see if you like it or not, because the opinions on this seem very mixed.
I Know Jack: Okay, this isn't really a song. More of a spoken interlude than anything...but it has a good riff and a good beat that they could've used for something else. Oh well.
Now we make it to my second-favourite song on the album, Back In The Day. Normally, I dislike songs that "praise the glory of metal", but this is actually done tastefully, and with tons of catchiness to boot. It's probably the catchiest song on the album, actually... With both a speedy and melodic verse and chorus section at the start, then a bit of a transitional verse, then things slow down into an awesome riff and some very nice singing/humming from Dave. A highly recommended listen. So far, the album's quality has fluctuated, even inside individual songs, but this is just great. A perfect good-times rocker.
Okay. BIG drop-off point here. Track eight, Something That I'm Not, is just terrible. Why? Let me count off the reasons. One, it's sluggish. Too much so for its own good. Two, Dave's vocals are just stale and don't have the fervor required for such a song as this. Three, the main riff actually has a shred of potential, but that's sadly squandered. Four, there's practically no variation at all in the music. Sure, the lyrics are okay, I'll give it that...But if Dave wanted to bash Lars Ulrich so badly, he could have 1: just put a flaming bag of crap on the guy's porch, or 2: given us a GOOD song about it.
So....can the rest of the album redeem itself after that piece of..."music"? I'm thankful that the next song is actually something worthwhile. Truth Be Told is a half-ballad; After a heavy intro that reminds me of Bruce Dickinson's "Silver Wings" a little (Especially in the drumwork), the distortion lays off, bringing us to a GREAT clean section. The verse here has emotional singing, as far as Mustaine goes anyway, nice foggy clean riffing, and nice lyrics relating to history and biblical times. The chorus, I realize, is a wee bit awkward; I like it though, I'm not sure why. Well, it's good. At times, I think this song may have worked better as a raging thrasher, and maybe Tears In A Vial should have been the power ballad, but you can't have it all.
As for Of Mice And Men....I dunno about you, but the intro immediately sets a negative vibe in the song, for me. It just feels so awkward. At least the riff coming after is somewhat decent. Dave's vocals in the verse here actually seem "honest and open", like he's sitting down and having a heart-to-heart chat with someone. So far, so good...So what? (Har) No, actually, the chorus actually sounds decent when it's put to music. That's good. As for the rest of the song...The next verse is just as good, and the following choruses are decent. The solos are pretty good too, although nothing RiP-quality. It's a pretty good song, if just for the excellent verse vocal lines. Lyrics seem pretty inspirational to me.
Shadow Of Deth, another interlude. This one, assuming that you listen to it in a dark room at night, is actually pretty damn creepy. The guitar work and "belling" is very nice. An interlude that's actually worth listening to... Sounds good to me.
So, we reach the last song of the [supposedly] last album released under the Megadeth name. Is it worthy? Does the track represent all the classic numbers that 'Deth has put out through the years?
...Sadly, no. The lyrics are pretty good, dealing with a very medievil subject, and has some good riffs scattered around (Try the 1:26 mark, for example), but the song just seems repetitive and doesn't really click at all. It was a nice try, at least.
So that's it: After the glorious 80s and the more mainstream, slowly faltering 90's, and dying 00's, the thrash legend Megadeth is no more. As you may know, Dave may be planning a solo project, though. Any loyal Megadeth fan will pick this up; Just don't expect the second coming of Rust In Piece, Peace Sells or even Youthanasia.
It's been said that people need to stop expecting Dave to put out another thrash masterpiece and accept his streamlined metal for what it is, and I fully agree. This album actually has a few great modern heavy metal songs on it--but there's no real thrash to be found. Those days are gone and are not coming back.
We start off with "Blackmail the Universe," which tries earnestly to be thrashy (or at least some kind of heavy...), but stumbles over on it self from the moment that fake newscast comes on. The idea of Air Force One being shot down by a stinger missile is amusing enough, but come on. The whole thing's kinda lame. Anyway. Next we have "Die Dead Enough," which I, personally, really enjoy. Not extremely heavy, but you can't look at it that way. Like I said, those days are long gone. This is a catchy, mid-tempo metal song with some nice, bouncy breaks ("Ayee-ayee-ayy...") and an awesome chorus. The next cut, "Kick the Chair," is the thrashiest we get here, but... it's not thrash. It’s fun, though–chorus get’s your energy going. This track shows again that Dave can still write catchy tunes, and work wonders with simple riffs.
"The Scorpion" is another highlight... mid-tempo, not old-school in any manner, and yet, again, catchy as fuck. The buzzing riff played on the high-E string leads into some cool organ/pizzicato-string keyboard work, which somehow reminds me of something Fate would have done (intro to "The Oath"?). Dave's lyrical ability has been struggling for a while now (See: "Psychotron"), but the melodrama you see in the verses and the hostility heard in the chorus make for a good time. Again, the fake newscasts at the end are silly, but ha... "...went berserk with a 12-gauge shotgun..." Yes.
"Tears in a Vial" is another one of Dave's whiny "failed relationship" songs, but they never really bothered me. Half-thumbs up to this one, it’s catchy. "I Know Jack" is simply the first of two pointless segues. "Back in the Day" once again teases us by coming mouth-wateringly close to thrashiness, only to promptly back off into wank. Decent song nevertheless, the change-up at about 1:55 gives way to galloping guitar work and lyrical praise of the old-school. Vocals here are fun. The lyrics in this song kinda alienate the younger fans like myself though. I guess I "wouldn't understand".
Oh boy... then we come to "Something That I'm Not". Kill me. Awful groove metal, and the lyrics are annoying. I mean--I hate Lars Ulrich just as much as the next guy, but PLEASE, Dave. Stop fucking whining about it. I find no redeeming qualities in this song. Upon first listen of ‘System’, "Something That I'm Not" is where I truly started to lose faith in the album. Moving on... with "Truth Be Told" we have a clean intro passage, which is kinda nice, nothing objectionable here. Then at about 2:55 ("...'til death do us part..."), the song builds, and you know something good’s coming... but... what's this? What the hell is this? This riff is completely empty, not heavy at all, though it wants to be. The lyrics don’t flow, and the group vocals ("TRUTH BE TOLD"), which once kicked our ass in such songs of mass destruction as "Take No Prisoners," now feel silly and overused. Blah blah, repeat steps 1-2, then at the 3-minute mark we have a little chuggity-chiggity break which would be okay if it wasn't so... pointless. That's followed by some less-than-heavy riffing and decent soloing. Then at about 3:11, things start to speed up, we've got a basic thrash beat and some less-that-inspired speed riffing. Then the song's over. Okay. Next? "Of Mice and Men". Something good could have been done with this chorus. Unfortunately, it doesn't really go anywhere. As for the lyrics, I.... don't want to hear Dave's life story... AGAIN. Chalk it up to his ego I guess. The chorus should have been so good, but those damned vocal effects makes it hard to listen to, and it just... doesn't fit in with the song. The underlying riff during the chorus is all over the place and has no sense of coherence, it really feels like a cop-out--that riff could not have been hard to write, but it sounds complex if you're not really analyzing it. Other than that... well, there is nothing else. Skip. "Shadow of Deth"–the second of two pointless segues. As for the closer, "My Kingdom"... I don't really know what to say. There's nothing exceedingly BAD about it, but there's nothing GOOD about it, either. Boring, slow, uninspired, it's all been done. Kinda makes me think of TWNAH. And then... that's it.
So there you have it, I guess. Upon hearing "Kick the Chair" for the first time on the Deth website, long before TSHF was released, I thought maybe Dave was going to make an earnest return to at least TRYING to sound heavy. But no. We get another feeble attempt to preserve his waning relevancy and to feed his ego. But hey... as much as I'm complaining, I honestly like a few of the songs on here. And those highlights would be: "Die Dead Enough," "Kick the Chair," and "The Scorpion". Those tracks have managed to stay in my playlist rotation for the time being, but the whole rest of the album just does nothing for me.
Mustaine has stated that The System Has Failed will infact be the last album he writes to bear the "Megadeth" name... and when you look at it, it's a fitting final chapter for the band. He has created an album which essentially covers the mid-section of Megadeth's career. No, this is not a thrash album, so don't expect to hear gems like "Good Mourning / Black Friday part 2" on here. However, many songs on TSHF sound like they could have easily been on either Countdown to Extinction, Youthanasia, and yes, even Rust in Peace.
What seperates this album from it's predecesor, The World Needs A Hero, is that none of the new songs sound forced. Dave's music for the first time in about a decade comes off as unihibited. The mid-paced, slower songs on this album (Countdown and Youthanasia esque) have catchy melodies and riffs. Dave's lyrics sound like they have purpose this time around, and in some cases, the music rages on in ways we haven't seen since Rust in Peace.
What prevents this album from being a total sucess is that Mustaine for some reason can't give everyone too much of a good thing. The killer cuts here are : Blackmail the Universe (Rust in Peace era shredder, awesome double kick), Die Dead Enough (A nicely done Youthanasia esque ballad), Kick the Chair (Reminds me a LOT of Take No Prisioners, with awesome lyrics to boot), Tears in a Vial (sweet sounding ballad, with some nice solo work and speed metal outro), Back in the Day (Fast paced song with cool shredding and double kick outro), and Truth Be Told (Starts off slow and melodic, but the last half of the song is a pure Rust in Peace shred fest). Aside from these songs though the rest of the album is meh. No bad tracks, but nothing else stand out. Songs like The Scorpion, Something That I'm Not, Of Mice and Men, and even the album closer My Kingdom Come, all have quality and catchy riffs, but they come of as kind of stagnant. You feel as if these songs should go into a speed break, but instead keep the same tempo throughout. In some cases there is a speed break, but it never lasts long enough for you to totally get into it.
The two interlude songs, I know Jack, and Shadow of Deth both are cool, and have nice riffs, but they end to early. The latter, Shadow of Deth is the Shadow of Death prayer spoken by Vic Rattlehead, which is then followed by a sweet sounding solo... however the song then transitions into the final track, and never really establishes itself. Had Mustaine developed both I Know Jack and Shadow of Death into full length songs with lyrics, they would have been awesome.
But all in all, this album provides a not perfect, but fitting closure to Megadeths' career. If you are a fan of Megadeth's catalog up to and Including Youthanasia (as am I), you will most likely enjoy this album. Just don't buy it expecting Rust in Peace part 2, for dissapointment will surely follow (despite that fact that the album does have it's thrash moments). Pehaps thinking of this album as Countdown to Extinction Part 2 is more appropriate, seeing as it is the best Megadeth album, since then.
Damn it, Dave. Stop. Quit. Die. Do something. The horse has disintegrated into fine dust, and you must stop beating it. For the good of all in the world... GIVE UP.
This isn't really a horribly terrible album, but it is pretty fucking bad, and when one considers which band released it, it is just an absolute outrage. We've got far more shitty interludes than in every album up to this point, and far less triumphant riffage. Look at all the damn entire-songs that are just long drivel passages, like I Know Jack and Shadow of Death... random shit that isn't really considerable as "song" material.
We've also got stupid groove stuff like "Something I'm Not", which is Craptic Writings sewage... dumbass fast stuff with absolutely no punch like Kick the Chair, which tries oh-so-hard to be Peace Sells but really isn't even Youthanasia. Note to Clansman: the Virgin Steele intro to "My Kingdom Come" is "I will Come For You". This is no "I will Come For You". This is just a lot of "Sweating Bullets"-style riffage turned even lamer, with one cool riff section highlighted by an awful-sounding solo. Remember when Megadeth had lots of cool riff sections AND cool solos?
The only really truly memorable highlight of this album is the middle of Back in the Day, which is very good, except for the sneaking suspicion I get that it could've been completely amazing, in that Hanging in the Balance sense of the word. The rest of the album hints at that too, at times, but oh is the execution missing completely!! See "Of Mice and Men", the beginning - that modulation of the main melody sounds like it'll turn into something awesome, but it just keeps plodding along... and plodding along... it breaks into one quick fast section, but even that is no good. Then that multiple-layered vocal chorus section. Too many effects, too much fluff, not anywhere near enough substance.
Tears in a Vial has a decent under-verse riff, and some horrible overmelodic chorus parts. Seriously, Mustaine has no intention to be thrash, but if he just got his act together, he'd be damn good power metal. See "Youthanasia" for example... this is no Youthanasia, unfortunately. There isn't the over-the-top 80s chorusage of Blood of Heroes to be found here - it's as though Mustaine wrote down the first melody that came to mind, regardless of how mediocre it was.
Oh and one final note... the fake news report at the beginning is the DUMBEST shit I have ever heard. Defcon 3 is barely above Defcon 4, and Defcon 4 is "all is well". If the president were missing, it would be at least Defcon 2. Oh and how many asshole buzzwords can you use? Stinger missile, rogue terrorists, sleeper cell, etc... and finally, if the president's whereabouts are unknown, he's not assumed missing... he IS missing.
This album sucks... fucking disappointing, simply because every once in a while a great idea comes through, but damn is it quickly buried in the noise. Get yourself some Rust in Peace, and be happy. Avoid this crap.
Megadeth's comeback album after going through many problems. First off, Mustaine has finally achieved what he's been trying to do since he got kicked out of Metallica; put out better music than them. Metallica's comeback was obviously utter crap. The System Has Failed may not be the best thing in metal, but at least it's listenable and pretty good in many parts. Also, it's not thrash, but it is much better than anything they've put out since younthanasia. In fact, I find this one a tad better.
Opening track Blackmail the Universe has a couple of good riffs and chugs along. Heaviest opening track since Trust back in 1997. Die Dead Enough reminds me of Devil's Island in the beginning but then turns into a mediocre song that could fit on Cryptic Writings or Youthanasia. Kick The Chair is a return to the days of old, mainly Rust In Peace, and it's damn good. But it would seem to fit as a B-side for anything off that album. The Scorpion is a bit like a power metal song in the intro but then becomes slow and boring. Tears in a Vial is another boring song. I Know Jack is alright, and seems to have a build up of some sort, but again doesnt rip and tear like it should and then out of nowhere it just ends.??? Back in the Day is a better song than the previous few, and picks up a bit. This song would probably be better had it had a better main riff, instead of those high notes. Something I'm Not reminds me of Rust in Peace again, but still doesnt have that energy RIP has. Truth Be Told almost got me into it, but then the verse came and completly turned me off. Too damn slow! The build up to the chorus was nice and for a second sounded alright, but it was mediocre, then back to that really dumb verse. Of Mice and Men is again a disapointment. Shadow Of Deth sounds like Dave was trying to make a cliche power metal song, and it sounds stupid. My Kingdom Come sounded repetitive and should have definitly ripped. But alas, it didnt.
Once again, the "this album's gonna be a return to the old days" BS is there. It's sad that the once great thrash bands cannot make anything good anymore. The "top 4" (Metallica, Megadeth, Slayer, Anthrax) all disapoint with each release. This is still better than the recent catalouge the band has released. It has all the ingredients for a good metal album, but they're not mixed well, or at least as well as they should. I'd say get this album only because there's decent stuff here. But don't expect to be headbanging like crazy.
This is not the return to Rust in Peace that was hoped and maybe even expected by some. It's not even thrash, though it has some thrash moments. I can catch a good riff here and there on most songs, but so many times a song slows down too much when I expect it to burst in my face. I'm trying to pin down what exactly annoys me so much about this album and it looks like the choruses are a strong contender. The vocals aren't aggressive at all and Mustaine is trying way too hard to be catchy here, even overdubbing the vocals, which comes too often at the detriment of the riffing. A good example of that would be 'The Scorpion': good riffing and soloing entertwined with annoying choruses. I don't remember the riffs ever stopping for the vocals on good metal albums - give me some old Kreator over this any day. Too often a song really gets its thing going on and all of a sudden you wonder "Where did the riffs go? This was about to be good." Every song has its faster parts and better parts, but only 'Kick the Chair' and maybe 'Blackmail the Universe' don't leave anything to be desired. I mean, isn't that "truth be told" part annoying? Am I listening to a shitty pop song all of a sudden? What are all these over-produced vocal effects? Those are questions I don't want to be asking myself when listening to a Megadeth record. I'm not crazy about the "I'm on the news" thing he's got going on either. I love good production as much as the next guy, but let's not go out of our way to ruin otherwise fine parts.
It seems that I've been dwelling on the shortcomings of the album for a while, and I wouldn't want to leave the impression that it's a bad album - it's not, but it doesn't seem to know what it wants to be. Rust in Peace here, Youthanasia there, or something else entirely? What it is is a blend of good riffs, blazing solos, disappointing slow-downs, a few satisfying songs: 'Kick the Chair', 'Blackmail the Universe', 'Back in the Day', 'Tears in a VIal', some solid ones and others that could have been much better easily - just edit off the few annoying parts.
As nearly all of us know, Megadeth seemed to have been going through some problems recently. For one thing, their last 3 albums ranged from average to terrible. Marty Friedman left the band; Dave Mustaine had some weird arm problem. The future looked bleak for the former excellent thrash bands. But out of nowhere, came this quite good comeback album.
Firstly, this is not a thrash or speed album. There are a couple of thrash/speed songs on it, but the majority of it is power, in the vein of Youthanasia. As Youthansia ruled, this does too. The lead guitar is excellent, courtesy of Chris Poland, the drumming is solid, and the riffs are for the most part, great. Poland is no Marty Friedman, but he is very good and his solos are usually well done. The only main problem is Mustaine's vocals; they are pretty bad when he tries to sing melodically.
The highlights include: The opener, Blackmail the Universe has some great riffs. The vocals during the chorus are a little crappy, but the song contains some of the coolest riffs on the album. Kick the Chair is the best song, with amazing riffs and an incredibly great and genious solo. Catchy vocals too. The Scorpion has superb lead guitar, Tears in a Vial has more cool riffs with another great solo, though you have to wait till the end to get to them, and My Kingdom Come is another excellent song, though the repetition of riffs gets a little annoying.
Some of the worse tracks are Truth Be Told, which is a pretty bad ballad, though it picks up at the end and adds some more good riffs in. Of Mice and Men begins with a very annoying vocal performance by Mustaine, and generic riffs. Once again, it picks up near the end, but Mustaine's vocals during the chorus completely suck.
In total, this is a very comeback album. Its not as good as any of the "glory days" albums (Killing to Youthanasia) , but the band seems to be in the right direction again. Riffs are usually good, solos are good, everything's looking up. Some Megadeth fans might be annoyed by the lack of thrash, but if you enjoyed Youthansia, you'll most likely enjoy this.