"Hypnotize" (Columbia; 2005)

Reviewed by Mike SOS


Easily one of the most visionary rock groups to receive worldwide recognition and sell platinum in America, the latest twelve tracks released by spastically metallic juggernaut System of a Down both dazzle and confound. 

The second installment of the twin disc set from this left of center Armenian outfit employs a plethora of devices found on the first installment, "Mezmerize," only with seemingly sharper focus, a tad heavier all around, and emblazoned with a more prominent vocal role by Daron Malakian. 

"Hynpotize" starts off with "Attack," a bombastic old school metal riff where Malakian's love of black metal's driving guitars becomes clearer than ever. "Kill Rock 'N Roll" juxtaposes punk rock pretense and System's unique viewpoint about the vacuous wasteland better known as Hollywood, almost mocking other bands for buying into the plan. The title track displays the shimmering guitar lines and Eastern influences that usually raise the ire of metal enthusiasts who disqualify System's brand of heavy as pertinent. But the very next song, "Stealing Society" (decked out with adeptly precise speed metal riffs and a headbangingly jarring rhythm) rivals any metal on today's front in terms of sonic riffaging and powerhouse percussion. 

Always presenting contradiction and never short on controversy, "U-Fig" questions blind patriotism with a tongue in cheek cheerleader-esque refrain that many will undoubtedly be misinterpreted the same way they did Cobain's inner turmoil before his untimely demise. "Holy Mountains," a track about the Armenian genocide that delves into System's ancestry more overtly than ever, is laden with System's infamous politically charged fervor, and is epic in every sense of the word. Despite its redundancy and odd length for a SOAD tune (clocking over five minutes), "Holy Mountains" manages to retain an aura of elegance unlike anything else on the disc. Then there's "Victims of Obscenity," a track with the band's most nonsensical lyrics to date, backed by a vicious thrash metal assault yielding to a funky wah-wah chorus that sounds like it came from a '80s television show theme.

System of A Down raises awareness levels as much as heightens musical expectations like never before on "Hypnotize" so, while the somber "Lonely Day" may fail some listeners on both fronts, it serves as a simplistic yet impassioned reminiscence of the paranoid world which enabled the band to create this mammoth endeavor in the first place. 

Where other bands pander and cater, System bucks and pushes, striving to incite both riots and righteousness in a realm struggling to contain and repress. "Hypnotize" is another intense offering by one of the most enthralling bands in heavy music in the last three decades, emitting both raw power and ambitious musicianship unlike anything else in 2005.

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"Mezmerize" (Columbia; 2005)

Reviewed by Snidermann


In its barest form, musical expression is the purest type of communication known to man. An artists releases music as a way to communicate and each and everyone of us will perceive that music as we see fit, for better or for worse.

Before System of a Down's "Mezmerize," I gave previous CDs high marks. I found the band's way of looking at life and the world around them bold and interesting. However, after a few years of listening to this band and their later works, I found "Mesmerize" to be depressing and hard to listen to. 

It may just be me. Perhaps I have simply grown away from SOAD's particular style of musical storytelling. To me, "Mezmerize" is abrasive, boorish and overblown. That being said, I highly suggest that everyone listen to this release on their own and make their own judgement. 

I may have tired of System of a Down, but I will forever protect their right to say anything they want to say, anyway they want to say it.

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"Steal This Album!" (American; 2002)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton


Depending on your point of view, it's either the best time or the worst time to review a System of a Down album. That being said, I'm not the best person to be reviewing SOAD, a band that revels in social and political commentary. Bands like U2 and Rage Against the Machine don't do anything for me. I don't mind a little social commentary but bands like these are so heavy-handed. I get enough politics from my day job (to see what I mean, check out my boss's webpage at I like to rock'n'roll all nite and party every day. If I want political commentary, there's always Bill O'Reilly, Rush Limbaugh, Michael Moore, Al Franken or Burt Rosen.

Okay, now that the stage is set, let's talk about "Steal This Album!" First, if you're unlike me and you like serious rock'n'roll, you're gonna get a dose full with "Steal This Album!" The CD, which contains previously unreleased music from the band's career dating from the mid-90s to 2001, is nothing if not political. In fact, although I suppose you can listen without doing so, I would heartily suggest you find the lyrics for each song before you give "Steal This Album!" a spin. You'll want to know what's being said. Unlike other bands, with SOAD, it's very important to know what's going on.

The music is as one might expect from the band - a harder-edged alternative sound than the Red Hot Chili Peppers but along the same vein. "Steal This Album!" rocks solidly throughout. The band made a point of saying that the CD was not a collection of B-sides and I can agree with that. The tracks hereon are solid, well-written, thoughtful rockers. They're just not my cup of tea. With your kind permission, I'm going back to my Rob Zombie records now.

System Of A Down: Serj Tankian - vocals; Shavo Odadjian - bass; Daron Malakian - guitar; John Dolmayan - drums.  

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"Toxicity" (American; 2001)

Reviewed by Snidermann


System Of A Down’s latest release on American Records, "Toxicity," is nothing short of brilliant. This highly anticipated follow-up to their 1998 self-titled release shows a more confident, tighter, more refined musical style, one that literally explodes with thunderous fire from the CD.  

The band's songwriting ability has blossomed into a eruption of topics such at the U.S. prison system, death from drugs, to K.I.T.T., the car David Hasselhoff used in the quirky 1980’s TV series "Knight Rider" and a myriad of other highly structured songs thrown in.  

System of a Down sites influences such as Slayer, Iron Maiden, Jane’s Addiction and lighter bands like The Beatles and Depeche Mode and you can hear a little of each of them in this release. 

"Toxicity" is produced by the legendary Rick Rubin, who has produced such acts as Slayer, Red Hot Chili Peppers and Macy Gray

This heavy metal dish is one best served hot and let me tell you this shit is hard and it is fresh.  TURN IT UP AND PASS THE WORD!!!

System Of A Down: Serj Tankian - vocals; Shavo Odadjian - bass; Daron Malakian - guitar; John Dolmayan - drums.  

Check out the bitchin’ web site at for a completely System experience. 

"System of a Down" (American; 1998)

Reviewed by Snidermann

A friend of mine told me that he knew of a band that really rocked and he loaned me "System of a Down." After spinning it once, I went right out and bought it. This CD was like none other I have listened to in quite a while. SOAD combines twisted, light hearted lyrics with a heavy metal/punk mix that is quite interesting, to say the least. The entire musical experience is both rich and fulfilling like nothing I have ever heard.  This LA band is fresh, easy to listen to and frankly speaking, one of the very best band I have had the pleasure to review.

System Of A Down is: Serj Tankian vocals; Daron Malakian, guitars; Shavo Odadjian, bass and John Dolmayan, drums.

Rating Guide:

A classic. This record will kick your ass.

Killer. Not a classic but it will rock your world.

So-so. You've heard better.

Pretty bad. Might make a nice coaster.

Self explanatory. Just the sight of the cover makes you wanna hurl.


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