THE ALBUMS OF THE DAY ARE… SYSTEM OF A DOWN, MEZMERIZE & HYPNOTIZE
Seeing as I slacked again yesterday, I figured I’d continue with Tuesday’s theme and do another double album for today’s Album of the Day column. After a four year hiatus, everyone’s favorite Armenian political rock group System of a Down returned in 2005 with a doozy of an album, Mezmerize, and followed it up 6 months later with its conceptual counterpart Hypnotize. Guitarist Daron Malakian finds his true voice on this set, both figuratively in the major writing role he played and literally in that he often harmonizes his striking falsetto with Serj Tankian’s rich tenor. The result is an always interesting Armenian flavor that compliments the band’s already distinctly middle-eastern influenced sound. First single “B.Y.O.B” is a fierce, political attack as is “Cigaro” and Hypnotize‘s “Attack,” but even when the band slows things down they still manage to drive the point home in “Sad Statue” (“You and me / will all go down in history / with a sad statue of liberty / and a generation that didn’t agree”). Elsewhere System finds ways to comment on the state of our society as in “Radio/Video” and “Violent Pornography,” (“It’s a violent pornography / choking chicks and sodomy / the kind of shit you get on your TV”). Tankian even manages to slip in songs about celebrity baseball games and PCBs in our fish supply. In true concept album form, Mezmerize opens with the hauntingly clean-electric “Soldier Side (Intro)” and revisits the same musical theme with the last track on Hypnotize, bringing everything back home — when I first got to that last track my inner dork silently shouted “Fuck yes! They rule for doing this!” and I’m sure you will all agree.
Woah — did Vince Neilstein just write a record review that focuses mostly on lyrics? Uh oh. Daron Malakian’s guitar tone is killer, John Dolmayan is a SICK, sick drummer, and the arrangements and instrumentation are top-notch. There, that’s better. I don’t see System ever topping this set; it’s truly brilliant.