Get ‘Mezmerize’d by the System

For all of the “drearies” and “normals,” System of a Down may be too much to handle, but for die-hard fans its music is euphony. The Los Angeles based Armenian American metal band made its debut in 1998 with its self-titled album System of a Down. Rock fans were introduced to a sound that was raw and innovative.

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By Griffith Fuller

By Griffith Fuller

For all of the “drearies” and “normals,” System of a Down may be too much to handle, but for die-hard fans its music is euphony.

The Los Angeles based Armenian American metal band made its debut in 1998 with its self-titled album System of a Down. Rock fans were introduced to a sound that was raw and innovative.

In 2001 the band released “Toxicity,” an album packed with political and social issues, but recorded before 9/11 and released 11 days before 9/11. In 2003 the band released Steal This Album! an album comprised of unreleased left-over material recorded for the Toxicity album.

Seven years after its debut, the band released Mezmerize (the first part of a double disk project; Hypnotize is due to be released later this year) on May 17. Mezmerize has little elements here and there from its debut self-titled album. It has the spirit of Toxicity and the rebellious voice of Steal This Album!

The album opens with a slow melodic track called “Soldier Side” about 1 minute long. It then kicks into its first released single off of the album, “B.Y.O.B.” (which stands for Bring Your Own Bomb).

Vocalist/writer Serj Tainkan uses a party as a metaphor for the battlefield. “Everybody’s going to the party/have a real good time. Dancing in the desert blowing up the sunshine.”

Lines like “You depend on our protection/Yet you feed us lies from the tablecloth,” and “Why don’t presidents fight the war?/Why do they always send the poor?” states how the band really feels about the current war. But what seems to be many fans favorite line is when guitarist Daron Malakian shouts “Blast off/It’s party time/And we don’t live in a fascist nation.”

Some people say that they don’t want to listen to music that “preaches to them” or that’s “drenched with politics.” But System of a Down presents the problem (usually in an informative satirical manner) and make people think.

Those quick to condemn the band for its outspoken political beliefs should question why they listen to the music they listen to. Music with lyrics is meant to say something. No matter what the artist is saying, it’s still something that you are going to hear.

If you become fond of a certain band and its lyrics, no matter what the artist is talking about, you are participating in listening to the voice of the artist. It’s quite hypocritical to condemn the band on that basis alone; free speech is free speech. If an artists message is that annoying, maybe instrumental music will serve as a remedy.

“Cigaro” is a fan favorite, but might not be released as a single becuase of its provocative language.

If you ever wanted to know what System of a Down sounds like playing reggae or ska, listen to “Radio/Video.” System of a Down is known for a very distinctive manic or chaotic sound that its fans adore.

Its first album carries that in nearly every track. “This Cocaine makes Me Feel Like I’m On The Song” has that familiar chaotic sound. System of a Down’s psychotic sound establishes originality, in the creation of something so unconventional. Unlike most metal bands, it doesn’t heavily fixate on subjects such as death destruction and murder without a real cause. The only death, destruction and murder that it mention is in the form of a political socially conscience awakening.

One of the more outstanding songs on the album that really makes listeners stop and think is “Sad Statue.” One of the best lines off of the whole album that really hits a soft spot in the heart is “You and me/We’ll all go down in history/With a sad Statue of Liberty/And a generation that didn’t agree.” And indeed from recent polls we can infer that this generation, this youth don’t agree with the imperialistic motives of the Bush administration.

The conclusion of the album is greeted with “Lost In Hollywood,” the acoustic ballad. System of the Down is probably the only rock band that actually uses the word “fag” in its literal definition. Malakian sings “All you maggots/Smoking fags on Santa Monica Blvd.” The song takes on domestic issues about the surrounding area where the band resides. It is System of a Down’s “The Crystal Ship” in comparison to The Doors.Overall “Mezmerize” is an excellent album, and certainly will meet the expectation of System of Down fans.

Although the entire album is socially conscience, only about three songs speak blatantly about opposition to the War in Iraq (B.Y.O.B., Soldier Side-Intro, and Sad Statue).

This band is the real thing. It don’t whine about issues, it speak out and inform people about them. That is something most people don’t have the courage to do. It plays benefit concerts, constantly bring awareness to the Armenian genocide of 1915, and protest out on Sunset Blvd with other activist. Its website, systemofadown.com, has a “global action” page that provides an abundance of news articles on things that the government don’t want you to know.

“Mezmerize” is an audio revolution that you can’t refuse to listen to. Living in America is political, so those that don’t like the band’s message can get over it. This is a voice worth listening to.

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