The System Has Failed

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The System Has Failed
Studio album by Megadeth
Released September 14, 2004 (2004-09-14)
Recorded Oceanway and Emerald Entertainment in Nashville, Tennessee; additional recording at Phase Four Studios in Tempe, Arizona
Genre Heavy metal, thrash metal
Length 48:24
Label Sanctuary
Producer Dave Mustaine, Jeff Balding
Megadeth chronology
  • The System Has Failed
  • (2004)
Alternative cover

The System Has Failed is the tenth studio album by American thrash metal band Megadeth. Released on September 14, 2004, it was the band's second and final studio album distributed by Sanctuary Records. The System Has Failed was the first of three Megadeth records not to include original bassist and co-founder David Ellefson. Instead, the album features session players, including former Megadeth guitarist Chris Poland on lead guitar. However, Poland only provided lead guitar parts and solos on a contractual basis and did not rejoin the band.

The System Has Failed received positive reception from critics and managed to debut at number 18 on the Billboard 200. The album was generally thought of as being a return to form for the band, after the release of more commercially accessible albums through the 1990s. "Die Dead Enough" and "Of Mice and Men" were released as singles.

Background and production[edit]

In 2002, frontman Dave Mustaine announced that he was disbanding Megadeth due to an arm injury that rendered him unable to play guitar.[1] In a statement published on April 3, 2002, he stated that doctors expected that it would take about a year before he would recover from the injury. However, it was uncertain as to how complete of a recovery it would be. Mustaine stated his hopes to regain the ability to play guitar.[2] He subsequently recovered following months of physical therapy.[3]

The album was recorded at Oceanway and Emerald Entertainment in Nashville, Tennessee and at Phase Four Studios in Tempe, Arizona.[4] In a promotional statement from Megadeth's then-label Sanctuary Records, Mustaine clarified that recording the album had been "liberating", due to having more control over the record than he had had since the first two Megadeth records. Mustaine also noted that he initially took a casual approach to the album, starting out working three hours a night, four days a week.[5]

Originally intended to be a solo album by Mustaine, the record was re-branded with the Megadeth name as a result of contractual obligations owed to Mustaine's publishing company.[6] Mustaine co-produced the record with Jeff Balding, who had previously engineered Cryptic Writings and Risk.[5] Upon restarting Megadeth, Mustaine contacted bassist and founding member David Ellefson about resuming bass guitar duties for the band. Those efforts were ultimately fruitless, however. Ellefson claimed that Mustaine was not financially willing to pick up "where it was when [the band] broke up" and did not return to Megadeth.[7]

Artwork[edit]

The cover art was designed by Mike Learn, and features Vic Rattlehead at a podium in front of the United States Supreme Court building selling a not-guilty verdict to then U.S. President George W. Bush. Saluting is Hillary Clinton, next to former President Bill Clinton. Behind President Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney holds a briefcase labeled "plan B". Behind Cheney are several other Bush Administration officials: Then National Security Advisor (and later Secretary of State) Condoleezza Rice, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Attorney General John Ashcroft. The $100 bills on the cover depict Vic Rattlehead's face rather than the one of Benjamin Franklin.[8]

Release and promotion[edit]

The System Has Failed was released on September 14, 2004 through Sanctuary Records.[9] Three days previously, on September 11, the album was made available for streaming on the VH1 website.[10] The album debuted at number 18 on the Billboard 200,[11] with 46,000 units sold in its first week.[12] By December 2005, The System Has Failed had sold 171,000 copies in the United States.[13] In addition, the album had managed to chart in the top 20 in several other countries, including Canada, Finland, and Sweden.[11]

Still needing a band with whom to tour, Mustaine hired longtime drummer Nick Menza, and newcomers James MacDonough (bass) and Glen Drover (guitar). However, just five days before the start of the tour, Menza was sent home.[14] His place was filled by Shawn Drover, brother of then-recently hired guitarist Glen Drover. The album's promotional tour, the Blackmail the Universe Tour, launched on October 23, 2004 in Reno, Nevada and featured Earshot as a supporting act.[15] This tour would also spawn the That One Night: Live in Buenos Aires double live album, released in 2007.

Two music videos were also made to help promote the album. The first was "Die Dead Enough",[16] which was directed by Thomas Mignone.[17] "Of Mice and Men" was selected as the second video from the album.[18] In this video, the then-new Megadeth lineup is shown performing. The majority of the video was filmed on January 20, 2005 in Los Angeles. Many fans turned up to be in the video through a contest held by Sanctuary Records.[17] A third video was made for "Back in the Day" in 2005, but was unreleased until September 2014, to celebrate ten years since the album's release.[19] "Back in the Day" was also featured in an episode of the Duck Dodgers TV series.[20] The episode which the song was featured in, "In Space, No One Can Hear You Rock", aired on November 4, 2005, after having been delayed a week.[21]

Songs[edit]

"Die Dead Enough" was the lead single from The System Has Failed.[9][22] Mustaine wrote it when he was asked to write a song for the movie Tomb Raider II, but the proposed budget for recording was too low and the deal fell through.[23] Later on, the song was supposed to be featured in the film Saw,[24] but ultimately was not for undisclosed reasons.[25] This was later followed by the release of "Of Mice and Men".[18] Additionally, "Kick the Chair" was released as a free promotional download via Megadeth's website in May 2004, several months prior to the album's release. This version of the song was described by Mustaine as being a final mix, but not the master that would appear on the record.[26] "Tears in a Vial" was written by Mustaine shortly after Megadeth disbanded in 2002 about a decision to trade success for happiness.[27] The next track on the album, "I Know Jack", is an instrumental featuring a sample of a sample of Texas Senator Lloyd Bentsen's famous response to Indiana Senator Dan Quayle during a 1988 vice-presidential debate. "Shadow of Deth" consists of Mustaine reciting Psalm 23. The Latin phrase heard at the beginning of the track, "Auxilium meum a Domino," translates to "My help comes from the Lord."[28]

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic 4/5 stars[29]
Blistering 8/10[30]
Brave Words & Bloody Knuckles 9/10[31]
Drowned in Sound 4/10[32]
KNAC 4/5 stars[33]
Metal Forces 8/10[34]
Revolver 4/5 stars[35]
Rock Hard 8.5/10[36]

The System Has Failed has received mainly positive reviews from critics, with some of them describing the album as a return to form. AllMusic's Jason Birchmeier commented that Megadeth hasn't sounded this vital since Countdown to Extinction, and called the album "damn near perfect".[29] Brave Words & Bloody Knuckles reviewer Martin Popoff described the album as a mix of several previous records, and praised a number of the album's tracks. Popoff acknowledged the fact that Mustaine only used hired session players on the album was the album's only low point.[31] Jeff Kerby of KNAC gave a positive, if at times slightly sarcastic review, as well as a detailed track-by-track commentary.[33] David E. Gehlke of Blistering said despite that Mustaine's best days were behind him, this record comes across as a "warm return"; although the album fails to recapture past glory, it succeeds in being a solid, reliable metal album. In addition, Gehlke noted that Mustaine's vocals were "as strong as ever", but panned the album for the lack of any "thrash burners".[30] Neil Arnold of Metal Forces had a slightly different opinion, and credited this album for putting Megadeth "back on track". He praised the album artwork, which reminded him of the 80's style of graphics.[34] Another positive review was posted on Entertainment Weekly. Reviewer Nancy Miller called The System Has Failed Megadeth's best since 1990's Rust in Peace and praised Mustaine's collaboration with Poland, calling the result "Righteous!"[37]

In spite of a largely positive reception, not all reaction was completely positive. Tom Day of musicOMH had a mixed reaction to the album. Day called "Die Dead Enough" a "slice of classic 'Deth", while noting its slightly more mainstream sound. Later in his review, however, he noted that with "Shadow of Deth", it seemed that Mustaine had run out of ideas.[38] Nick Lancaster from Drowned in Sound also reacted unenthusiastically towards the album, saying it was a "severe case of St. Anger syndrome". However, he added there were "occasional moments of the old magic, but they're few and far between".[32]

Track listing[edit]

All songs written and composed by Dave Mustaine

No. Title Length
1. "Blackmail the Universe"   4:33
2. "Die Dead Enough"   4:18
3. "Kick the Chair"   3:57
4. "The Scorpion"   5:59
5. "Tears in a Vial"   5:21
6. "I Know Jack"   0:40
7. "Back in the Day"   3:27
8. "Something That I'm Not"   5:07
9. "Truth Be Told"   5:40
10. "Of Mice and Men"   4:04
11. "Shadow of Deth" (lyrics: Psalm 23, credited to David) 2:15
12. "My Kingdom"   3:03
Total length:
48:24

[4]

Japanese edition bonus track
No. Title Length
13. "Die Dead Enough" (video)  

[39]

Personnel[edit]

Production and performance credits are adapted from the album liner notes.[4]

Megadeth
Session musicians
Additional performers
  • Tim Akers – keyboards
  • Darien Bennett – voice of the General on "Blackmail the Universe"
  • Eric Darken – percussion
  • Michael Davis – sound effects
  • Lance Dean – additional vocals
  • Scott Harrison – additional vocals
  • Charlie Judge – keyboards
  • Celeste Amber Montague – voice of the Reporter on "Blackmail the Universe"
  • Justis Mustaine – background spoken part
  • Ralph Patlan – voice of the Politician on "Blackmail the Universe", additional vocals
  • Chris Rodriguezbackground vocals
  • Robert Venable – additional vocals
  • Jonathan Yudkin – strings, banjo
Production
  • Produced and recorded by Jeff Balding and Dave Mustaine
  • Mixed by Jeff Balding
  • Assisted by David Bryant, Ralph Patlan, Scott Kidd, Jesse Amend, Lance Dean, and Jed Hackett
  • Additional recording by David Bryant, Jed Hackett, and John Saylor
  • Mastered by Adam Ayan
  • Digital editing by Mark Hagen and Jed Hackett
  • Production coordination by Mike "Frog" Griffith
  • Cover art by Mike Learn, based on a concept by Dave Mustaine
  • Design by t42design

Chart performance[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "History (2002)". Megadeth.com. Retrieved December 30, 2013. 
  2. ^ "Injury Forces Mustaine To Disband Megadeth". Billboard. April 3, 2004. Retrieved October 17, 2013. 
  3. ^ "Dave Mustaine Talks About His Arm Injury". Blabbermouth.net. January 16, 2004. Retrieved October 6, 2012. 
  4. ^ a b c The System Has Failed liner notes. Sanctuary Records. 2004. p. 15. 
  5. ^ a b "Megadeth - Sanctuary Hypes Up The System Has Failed". Brave Words & Bloody Knuckles. July 27, 2004. Retrieved August 14, 2012. 
  6. ^ "Dave Mustaine: 'Anyone Who Says That Megadeth Isn't Me Is A Fool'". Blabbermouth.net. March 31, 2007. Retrieved October 6, 2012. 
  7. ^ "Former Megadeth Bassist David Ellefson Hopes To Work With Dave Mustaine Again". Blabbermouth.net. October 16, 2004. Retrieved October 23, 2011. 
  8. ^ "Megadeth - Mike Learn Set To Create Cover For The System Has Failed". Brave Words & Bloody Knuckles. July 5, 2004. Retrieved August 13, 2012. 
  9. ^ a b "Megadeth: New Single 'Die Dead Enough' To Arrive In July". Blabbermouth.net. June 19, 2004. Retrieved October 6, 2012. 
  10. ^ "Megadeth: Listen To Entire New Album Online". Blabbermouth.net. September 11, 2004. Retrieved October 6, 2012. 
  11. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k "Megadeth: 'The System Has Failed' Chart Positions Updated". Blabbermouth.net. September 24, 2004. Retrieved October 23, 2011. 
  12. ^ "Megadeth's 'System' Enters Billboard Album Chart At No. 18". Blabbermouth.net. September 22, 2004. Retrieved October 16, 2013. 
  13. ^ "Megadeth: Album Sales Update". Blabbermouth.net. December 16, 2005. Retrieved September 30, 2011. 
  14. ^ "Megadeth's Mustaine Says Nick Menza Wasn't Prepared To Tour With The Band". Blabbermouth.net. November 16, 2004. Retrieved March 17, 2010. 
  15. ^ "Megadeth Kill The Charts With The System Has Failed, Earshot To Support On Tour". Brave Words & Bloody Knuckles. September 24, 2004. Retrieved August 13, 2012. 
  16. ^ "Megadeth: 'Die Dead Enough' Video To Air On 'Headbanger's Ball', Tour To Kick Off In San Diego". Blabbermouth.net. September 11, 2004. Retrieved October 6, 2012. 
  17. ^ a b "Megadeth: Win Chance To Appear In 'Of Mice And Men' Video". Blabbermouth.net. January 15, 2005. Retrieved October 23, 2011. 
  18. ^ a b "Megadeth To Film 'Of Mice And Men' Video". Blabbermouth.net. January 4, 2005. Retrieved October 6, 2012. 
  19. ^ "Megadeth's Previously Unreleased Video for 'Back in the Day' Sees Light of Day". Blabbermouth.net. September 15, 2014. Retrieved September 16, 2014. 
  20. ^ "Megadeth To Become 'Cartoon Legends'". Blabbermouth.net. October 17, 2005. Retrieved October 6, 2012. 
  21. ^ "Megadeth - Appearance On Duck Dodgers Cartoon Show Pushed Back". Brave Words & Bloody Knuckles. October 30, 2004. Retrieved October 6, 2012. 
  22. ^ "Megadeth - Radio Dates Set For ‘Die Dead Enough’". Brave Words & Bloody Knuckles. July 2, 2004. Retrieved October 23, 2012. 
  23. ^ Pally, Robert (June 2004). "Interview with Dave Mustaine of Megadeth". Tripod.com. Retrieved October 16, 2013. 
  24. ^ "Megadeth: 'Die Dead Enough' Single To Be Featured In Upcoming Horror Film". Blabbermouth.net. July 26, 2004. Retrieved August 13, 2011. 
  25. ^ "Producer: Megadeth's 'Die Dead Enough' Not Featured In 'Saw' Movie". Blabbermouth.net. July 28, 2004. Retrieved August 13, 2011. 
  26. ^ "Megadeth: New Song Available For Download". Blabbermouth.net. May 7, 2004. Retrieved July 15, 2012. 
  27. ^ "The Scorpion". Megadeth.com. Retrieved October 5, 2012. 
  28. ^ "The Scorpion". Megadeth.com. March 24, 2008. Retrieved August 13, 2011. 
  29. ^ a b Birchmeier, Jason. "Megadeth: The System Has Failed". AllMusic. Retrieved October 17, 2013. 
  30. ^ a b Gehlke, David E. "Megadeth - The System Has Failed". Blistering. Retrieved October 17, 2013. 
  31. ^ a b Popoff, Martin (August 6, 2004). "Megadeth - The System Has Failed". Brave Words & Bloody Knuckles. Retrieved August 14, 2012. 
  32. ^ a b Lancaster, Nick (September 7, 2004). "Megadeth - The System Has Failed". Drowned in Sound. Retrieved August 28, 2012. 
  33. ^ a b Kerby, Jeff (September 14, 2004). "Reviews: Megadeth - The System Has Failed". KNAC. Retrieved August 15, 2012. 
  34. ^ a b Arnold, Neil. "Megadeth: The System Has Failed". Metal Forces. Retrieved August 8, 2013. 
  35. ^ "Megadeth: The System Has Failed". Revolver. Megadeth.com. Retrieved August 22, 2013. 
  36. ^ Stratmann, Holger. "Megadeth: The System Has Failed". Rock Hard. Retrieved May 22, 2013. 
  37. ^ Miller, Nancy (September 17, 2004). "The System Has Failed Review". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved November 11, 2012. 
  38. ^ Day, Tom (September 13, 2004). "Megadeth - The System Has Failed". musicOMH. Retrieved August 17, 2012. 
  39. ^ The System Has Failed back panel (Japan ed.). Marquee, Inc. 2004. 
  40. ^ a b "Megadeth: The System Has Failed". Hung Medien. Retrieved October 16, 2013. 
  41. ^ "Megadeth Enter The U.K. Top 100". Blabbermouth.net. September 20, 2004. Retrieved October 23, 2011. 
  42. ^ "Megadeth: Billboard Singles". AllMusic. Retrieved January 5, 2009. 

External links[edit]