I honestly don't know if anyone rightfully expected a great Megadeth album in 2004. After all, their previous releases (Risk & The World Needs A Hero) were hardly awe-inspiring. It could be argued that Megadeth hadn't made a "real" metal album since 1990's Rust In Peace. Now we had this weird story about Megadeth breaking up due to Mustaine's nerve injury, a proposed solo album, and an aborted reunion where Menza wasn't up to snuff and Ellefson was trashing Mustaine in the press.
So, forgive me for being skeptical, I was not expecting much with The System Has Failed. However, I was soon blown away. What we have here started as a solo album with a backing band consisting of Jimmy Sloas and Vinny Coluito on bass and drums respectively. The icing on the cake, for me, was guitar solos by ex-Megadeth maestro Chris Poland. Wow. Poland's virtuoso jazzy off-kilter runs perfectly compliment this platter of metal perfection. Poland is the star of the show to this listener.
There aren't really any weak numbers on this CD. However, if you hate Dave's politics or Dave's religion, you will hate this album. Mustaine, a born-again Christian, is not shy about it. It's about time we had a metal band like Megadeth who aren't shy about their faith, and the lyrics are strong but not preachy. Dave's snarl is in ample supply, and when he goes toe-to-toe with Poland in the guitar solo department, it is pretty awe-inspiring.
The System Has Failed combines the sound of '92 Megadeth (Countdown
) with nods and winks to the more melodic '97 Megadeth (Cryptic
) combined with the heaviness of the 80's Megadeth. As such, this sounds like an album made for the fans. Anybody who's ever enjoyed a Megadeth album will find something to love here.