THE SYSTEM HAS FAILED
Right now is definitely a glorious time to be a Megadeth fan. Dave Mustaine has just released what is arguably the best remastered collection ever put out. His intense overscrutinization of the back catalog resulted in a rare bettering of already great material. And really, it couldn’t come at a better time for Dave and company. It’s been a long time since there was anything to get really excited about in the Megadeth camp. Looking at their recent history, it hasn’t been since YOUTHANASIA came out in 1994 that there was much reason to care what was going on in the Megadeth camp. Albums like RISK, THE WORLD NEEDS A HERO and CRYPTIC WRITINGS were all average efforts at best for the band. They were mixed in with a bunch of “let me out of my contract” records like CAPITOL PUNISHMENT, STILL ALIVE…AND WELL and RUDE AWAKENING. Following was the dissolving of the band in the wake of Mustaine’s substance abuse relapse and an injury to his arm. It seemed like the band was over.
But not so fast! Mustaine recovered from the arm injury, got the creative juices flowing while working on the remasters, and went back to writing the kind of material that he’d built his great career on. He really started over; retooling the band and coming back with a fresh set of ideas and attitude. The result is THE SYSTEM HAS FAILED. This album is, without a doubt, the best album of new material to come out of the Megadeth camp in over a decade. By saying this, let’s come in with some truths before evaluating. Truth number 1: This is not the Megadeth that roared on albums like RUST IN PEACE or PEACE SELLS. To paraphrase Mustaine himself, he’s not 22 anymore and he’s not the lethal shredder he once was. To compare this album to anything, it would be closer to the YOUTHANASIA release than anything else in the catalog. The songs on THE SYSTEM HAS FAILED are highly introspective looks at life, religion and politics – all topics Mustaine has worked with before. You can really tell that Mustaine was in a reflective mood when writing this material. Songs like “Back In The Day” and “Tears In A Vial” clearly have the feel that they were written based on observations Mustaine felt when he looked himself in the mirror. He also looks out at the political landscape of the world today on songs like “Blackmail The Universe”. And while that song is based in the fictional scenario of the President of the United States being shot out of the sky by terrorists, you can feel the emotional attachment to today’s political pitfalls as Mustaine sees it.
Musically, Mustaine has put together a very solid recording band for this record. He sounds good both on vocals and guitars…but there was really no denying that. Ex-Megadeth axemaster Chris Poland has returned to the fold on THE SYSTEM HAS FAILED. Now more of a fusion player in his band OHM, Poland proves that he’s still got metal guitar playing in his soul. He shreds throughout, teaming with Mustaine to create the classic Megadeth sound on tracks like “My Kingdom Come” and the very cool “Shadow Of Deth”. Another fusion based player, drummer Vinnie Colaiuta, is a maniac on the drums as well. Bassist Jimmy Solas steps right in and replaces outgoing bassist David Ellefson without missing a beat. From start to finish, this band is solid.
PITRIFF RATING – 8/10 – As much as I like this, and like the fact that one of my top 5 favorite bands ever is back on track, this was a hard one to rate. Clearly, it’s not as good as the classic stuff, and it’s not as bad as the more recent stuff. In my eyes this album is either a strong 7 or a weak 8, so I’ll round up based solely on the fact that it’s Megadeth and their legacy deserves respect all by itself. THE SYSTEM HAS FAILED is as solid as it’s probably ever going to get from Dave Mustaine anymore…and that’s more than most bands that have been around as long can boast.