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A Review of the Album "the System Has Failed" by Megadeth

Updated on May 29, 2021
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Ara is a journalism graduate from California State University, Northridge, who is always looking to explore his writing opportunities.

The front album cover has several politicians standing in line including Bill and Hillary Clinton and Donald Rumsfeld. The album tries to point out the many failures of the US political system. Next to Rumsfeld is former Vice President Dick Cheney.
The front album cover has several politicians standing in line including Bill and Hillary Clinton and Donald Rumsfeld. The album tries to point out the many failures of the US political system. Next to Rumsfeld is former Vice President Dick Cheney.

The System Has Failed Songs List

  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 (This is the way that the word in the song is spelled).
  12. My Kingdom

What Is The Musical Style Of The System Has Failed?

The System Has Failed is the 2004 album by American heavy metal band Megadeth. It is also the first album by the band since Dave Mustaine’s arm injury. This album can be considered mostly a solo effort because most of the musicians performing on the album are session musicians. Guitarist Chris Poland makes a return appearance for the album and contributes quite nicely for the lead guitar parts. We must give Dave credit here because he has redeemed himself after such a poor effort on the album Risk. At least that's what I have thought about that album for years but they have worse albums than that one. I sometimes wondered whether he was losing his musical creativity because of all the alcohol and drug abuse that plagued him. Well this album shows that he still has creativity left in him after all. The thrash elements that we were used to hearing on the band’s first four albums returns for this one especially on the song Kick The Chair.

By this point in their careers, Metallica has had the upper hand on Megadeth. This is not an article comparing the two bands but in the view of this writer, Megadeth has not surpassed Metallica in greatness and we are not even talking about overall CD sales. So, the thing is that by 2004, Megadeth had 3 sub-par or bad albums and Metallica had zero bad albums.

Note: when I first composed this album review back in 2016, my opinions of the previous album Risk were pretty low but times have changed as we are in 2020. Regardless of Dave Mustaine’s past personal problems, on songs such as Die Dead Enough, he does a decent vocal job.

Analysis of the Songs Die Dead Enough, Kick the Chair and The Scorpion

I had mentioned earlier that The System Has Failed represents a good comeback album by Megadeth but how good of a comeback is it?

The song "Kick the Chair" is about the flaws of the US justice system. Someone has been wrongly accused of a crime yet they will be going to jail because of it. The song points out the flaws of the justice system and we can even see these flaws today as minorities are singled out by law enforcement. One of my first favorite songs is "Die Dead Enough" as the lead guitar work is excellent! "The Scorpion" is a song about a creature that lives to commit sinful acts. Prince of Darkness on the Risk album is another song that makes reference to other evil creatures. The System Has Failed clearly beats any album that had been released in the last ten years prior except for The World Needs a Hero in 2001.

"Tears in a Vial": Another Good Love Song by Megadeth

"Tears in a Vial" is about someone who has to let go of the person that they love for what they loved even more. He could not afford to keep the relationship going. Megadeth has covered the subject before such as in songs like 1,000 Times Goodbye. "I Know Jack" is just kind of like a 40 second sound bite that has some narration that should not belong on this album.

"Die Dead Enough"

The System Has Failed Analysis of the Songs Something That I'm Not, Truth Be Told, and Of Mice and Men

After an average song such as "Something That I’m Not," we are introduced to "Truth Be Told." The song is about the beginning of sin in this world. Since Cain killed Abel, it has set a kind of precedent that shows the flaw of human beings. With death, we must part from this world whether we like it or not. Most of us would rather not think about the fact that we are going to expire but this is the reality. "Of Mice and Men" is about someone who is having fun and having a little too much to drink yet he is not able to find any friends. He wonders how he is still alive when he turns 25. A lifestyle of constant drinking will lead to disaster as has been seen so many times. It is important to be responsible if you are going to have a drink.

Favorite Song On The System Has Failed

What Is Your Favorite Song On The System Has Failed Album?

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"Truth Be Told"

The System Has Failed: Final Thoughts

Overall, The System Has Failed is a decent album and a return to what we are used to hearing from this longtime band. The strongest songs in the album are Die Dead Enough, The Scorpion, Tears in a Vial, Blackmail the Universe, Truth Be Told and Kick the Chair. This writer gives the album an 80 out of 100 points. This is a solid return album for Mustaine and company! I mentioned the word return because at first, I did not like the band’s 1999 studio album called Risk but The System Has Failed still has that musical heaviness but it is a more modern album.

Even so, The System Has Failed is not as good as Metallica’s Death Magnetic. Megadeth’s comeback album cannot beat Death Magnetic. Whatever Dave did for this album works out decently but if he was hoping to get the better of his former band mates musically, he did not do it with this album. As much as I have been critical of Dave’s personal choices, his musical talent was never in question. He had to find a way to redeem himself and the band does it with this 2004 album. Songs such as Back in the Day that have that Iron Maiden feel to it are good as well. If you have the album The System Has Failed, consider yourself fortunate because there are some darn good songs on it for the situation that the band was in at the time.

This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.

© 2016 Ara Vahanian


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