Megadeth – The World Needs A Hero + The System Has Failed (Re-issues)


“Megadeth are over.” [2000]

Following the loss of the ’second-golden-era’ 90s partnership of Marty Friedman (guitar) and Nick Menza (drums) who drove the world-conquering ‘Countdown To Extinction’ and the critically-acclaimed ‘Youthanasia’…then the ‘not-bad, but’ opus ‘Cryptic Writings’…then the more or less total failure of ‘Risk’, one could be forgiven for believing that the ‘Dave and David’ show were destined to sink into obscurity by the turn of this century.

A last gasp was taken with 2001’s The World Needs A Hero (featuring rock royal Jimmy DeGrasso on drums and one-record wonder Al Pitrelli on guitar), and was followed up, possibly under record company duress, with The System Has Failed in 2004, minus founding bassist David Ellefson.

Few can claim to know exactly what was going on in the Megadeth camp in the early part of the millennium, but it can be confidently predicted that it was a long way from sunshine and roses.

And now these latter two albums are being reissued, a cynical mind might say for a last payday from a band past their prime, one more accepting might say to re-introduce Megadeth’s overlooked output to a new audience.

Worth having? Let’s find out.

The World Needs A Hero is, frankly, incredibly hit-and-miss. Lead single ‘Moto Psycho’ takes some of the best of old-school ‘deth and blends it with more modern production to make a must-listen; for the old-school fans there’s the likes of ‘Return To Hanger’ and ‘Dread And The Fugitive Mind’; there’s even some low-tempo balladry on ’Promises’ and ’Silent Scorn’ which, while absolutely not typical, have a little merit.

There’s too much crap on this record, though. Balladry aside (and closer ‘Coming Home’ will take some putting aside for its sheer awfulness), there’s so many songs that hint at a bar band trying to do something heavy, or of Mustaine working through some stuff lyrically that he could have left to simmer before a re-write.

So that one? No. If you want a Megadeth undiscovered gem, go for the other one.

The System Has Failed apparently only came about because Mustaine owed Sancturary another record under the Megadeth name, so it’s a hotchpotch of session players and former stalwarts including Chris Poland (‘deth lead guitar in their 80s heyday).

Obviously written in the environment of uncertain US action in foreign lands (opener ‘Blackmail The Universe’, ‘The Scorpion’), uncertainty of domestic policy (‘Kick The Chair’),  and general disquiet with the world order (‘Of Mice And Men’), The System Has Failed hasn’t just aged incredibly well, it could have been written this year. Mustaine’s trademark lyrical fire is front-and-centre, and it doesn’t matter who the studio musicians are, they’re holding their own.

Of course it has its skippable tracks; no album produced under duress wouldn’t… but there are few, and the ‘bonus’ live ones are prime suspects. They’re fine, but they won’t set the world afire.

As re-issues go, if you have these already you won’t buy them. If you lost track of Megadeth in the 90s, get The System Has Failed, and you’ll find a band not yet ready to resign themselves to nostalgia.

Review by Ian Savage 

The World Needs A Hero:

  1. Disconnect
  2. The World Needs A Hero
  3. Moto Psycho
  4. 1000 Times Goodbye
  5. Burning Bridges
  6. Promises
  7. Recipe For Hate…Warhorse
  8. Losing My Senses
  9. Dread And The Fugitive Mind
  10. Silent Scorn
  11. Return to Hangar
  12. When
  13. Coming Home

The System Has Failed:

  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
  12. My Kingdom
  13. Time / Use The Man (live)
  14. Conjuring (live)