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Megadeth: The system has failed

31/03/08  ||  Global Domination

This review was written by ex-staffer/cocksmoker Banesupper.

Even casual readers of GD should have picked up on the general loathing of Dave Mustaine that permeates this site. He’s been “Idiot of the Week”, what, three times now? Some might find our pecking on the guitar-wielding christian redhead to be unjustified; these people are wrong. It’s bloody fucking obvious that the guy has felt inferior to Metallica ever since he got the boot. Back then he swore he’d form his own band, and that it would be more successful than Metallica. Which band do you think have sold the more albums? That’s right. And what does that make Dave? That’s right: a failure.

Of course, I’m not being entirely fair (I have yet to be accused of being such). After all, I do think that Megadeth at their pinnacle were better than Metallica ever were. But my point isn’t to compare bands, my point is that Dave Mustaine’s a fucking idiot, and his feelings of inferiority are to blame. By this logic, I guess Metallica are to blame. Fuck you Metallica! And what does all of this have to do with this review? Not a whole lot, but I like to ramble, and also, this album sucks as much as Dave Mustaine does. “The System Has Failed” was hailed as a return-to-form for Megadeth. Are you fucking kidding me? This is not a return to form, it’s a return to the foetal state.

Now, I’ve always considered Megadeth better at playing heavy metal than thrash, which is mainly to the blame of Mustaine’s complete and total inability to sound even remotely intimidating. If you ask me, and I really don’t care if you do, “Countdown to Extinction” is vastly superior to anything that preceded it. I, for one, was therefore not particularly interested in seeing Megadeth return to their techni-thrash roots. But as it turns out, that’s only partly the case, as there’s quite a few “Youthanasia”-ish commercially minded tunes on here. And guess what? They all suck.

The album opens with “Blackmail the Universe”, an attempt at recreating the classic thrash of 80’s Megadeth, but its greatest flaw is exactly that: it ends up sounding like the band are mimicking themselves rather than rediscovering themselves. And if imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, flattery sucks ass. Really, this song is a fucking mess. Whatever skill Mustaine once had for writing complex riffs that form a cohesive whole is long since lost. While the riffs are not even particularly good, they are arranged in such a helpless manner that it’s hard to believe this band has been in the business twenty years. This is downright amateurish. None better does it get on “Die Dead Enough”. Dave really captured the idea of “catchiness” here. He captured it and tortured it and used the broken remains to create a dreadful, droning chorus that must be counted among the worst things he’s ever done. This is not just bad, it’s anti-good. Listening to this actively spoils your ability to enjoy music at all.

It gets a little better as the album progresses. “Kick the Chair”, “The Scorpion” and “Tears in a Vial” aren’t near as horrible as the initial pair of songs (though not exactly inspired either), and after the random intermission of “I Know Jack”, the best song of the album comes up in the form of “Back in the Day”. See, this is what Megadeth should be doing: (almost) unpretentious, straightforward semi-thrash. It’s fairly catchy; it’s got rhythm and energy. The last few seconds of this song is easily the best moment on the album. Cut the terribly convoluted progressive crap and the embarrassing ass-pop, and keep this. Because this, Dave, you still know how to do.

The rest of “The System Has Failed”, however, is every bit as shitty as the first half. “Something That I’m Not”, possibly about Lars Ulrich (I don’t care), is bland as bland can be. “Truth Be Told” aims for “catchy”, and actually hits the mark. Sure, it employs a few pop-tricks to get the job done, but I don’t particularly mind. The song takes a turn for the decidedly worse about half-way through, however, and never recovers. Maybe that is for the best, anyway, as it does a little to prepare the listener for the atrocity that is “Of Mice and Men”. This garbage is, hands down, the worst song Megadeth have ever done. Agonizing robot-vocals pride the choruses, interspersed with verses so clumsily arranged that – if I didn’t know better – I’d say it was all a big joke. I kid you not: this song brings me physical pain.

Of the rest of the album? Well, there’s Dave celebrating his newly-found christian faith on “Shadow of Deth” (oooh! It’s “Shadow of Death”, except with “Deth”, ‘cause it’s Megadeth! Clever!) and the irrelevant closer “My Kingdom Come”.

So, is there nothing good to this album? Of course there is. As my rundown of the songs will tell you, “Back in the Day” is a solid thrash anthem, and there are other decent riffs and melodies hidden over the course of the album. The musicianship is, of course, top notch, though it makes zero difference (I actually find it quite ironic that Dave recently bashed guitarists who don’t play solos, as there’s not a single interesting solo to be found on this album). For a once-great band to have fallen this far is one thing, but for this train-wreck of an album to actually be praised is another.

This is ass.

3/10.

  • Information
  • Released: 2004
  • Label: Sanctuary
  • Website: www.megadeth.com
  • Band
  • Dave Mustaine: guitar, vocals
  • Chris Poland: guitar
  • Jimmy Sloas: bass
  • Vinnie Colaiuta: drums
  • The Lord Jesus Christ: song-writing
  • Tracklist
  • 01. Blackmail the Universe
  • 02. Die Dead Enough
  • 03. Kick the Chair
  • 04. The Scorpion
  • 05. Tears in a Vial
  • 06. I Know Jack
  • 07. Back in the Day
  • 08. Something that I’m Not
  • 09. Truth be Told
  • 10. Of Mice and Men
  • 11. Shadow of Deth
  • 12. My Kingdom Come