[8/10] Us longtime 'Deth bangers have stood by Dave Mustaine through thick and thin, always keeping up the hope he will rekindle the fire of his glory days. Those glory days saw a string of epic thrash albums that ran circles around the metal community thanks in no part to Mustaine's riff writing brilliance and unbridled fury. Commercial success, family life, and a drug free life style have perhaps contributed to Mustaine's lack of anger and have led many to believe his best years are behind him. Considering Mustaine's track record over the last 5 years-2 subpar albums and a breakup, The System Has Failed comes across as a warm return, one that that fails to recapture thrash glory, but succeeds in being a solid, reliable metal album.
The System Has Failed is not thrash du jour like so many have pined for. Perhaps this is the most disappointing aspect of this album, the total lack of any thrash burners or Mustaine's trademark rampant riffing style. Instead, we have a mix of Youthanasia, Cryptic Writings and a hint of So Far, So Good, So What! Mustaine is still very much intent on writing immediate, catchy songs that rely on big choruses as opposed employing songs that have a plethora of riff and time changes. There is nothing at all inherently wrong with this, for it worked quite well on Youthanasia, and it works here.
Vocally, Mustaine is as strong as ever, not getting in the way of things, but still sounding very much unique and inimitable. Production is crisp and clear, yet not as commercial as Youthanasia or as overly polished as Cryptic Writings. Former 'Deth shredder Chris Poland makes several appearances and still proves to be a heady, yet unrestrained player that always brings something new to every solo.
Opener ‘Blackmail The Universe’ is a strong song that features some nimble rhythm work and some memorable soloing by Poland. ‘Kick The Chair’ is easily the most old school song here, with a verse riff that would fit right in on Rust In Peace. The more melodic, radio friendly songs-‘Tears In A Vial’, ‘Die Dead Enough’ and ‘Something I'm Not’ are passable tunes that won't please any old fans, but will have a shot at going to radio. Album highlight ‘Back In The Day’ is the most inspired moment here, thanks to some great retrospective lyrics and some uptempo riffing.
Not a remarkable comeback by any means, but certainly something to take hold of, The System Has Failed is like welcoming an old friend back home and realizing how much that person has changed. If there could be one person to light a fire under the ass of the metal scene, it is Dave Mustaine. With the ever reliable Nick Menza back in the fold and an impending tour, here's hoping Mustaine will bust out some thrash classics (‘Take No Prisoners!’) and proceed to set the scene on fire once again.