System of a Down - Mesmerize
Posted by fire on Fri, 04 Nov 2005.
Daron Malakian - Guitars, Vocals
Serj Tankian - Vocals, Piano, Guitar
Shavarsh Odadjian - Bass Guitar
John Dolomayan - Drums
When System Of A Down unleashed ‘Toxicity’ upon the globe in 2003, people were left thinking just who these Armenian-Americans were, their mix of outrageous instrumentals and twisted lyrics made it the Metal album to have. The first half of a double album, Mezmerize sees the band continue their fantastic nonsense, twisting and contorting their way through 10 tracks of total musical genius…
Co-produced by Lead guitarist Daron Malakian, ‘Mezmerize’ depicts a group that don’t care to be alike, don’t want to be alike, and simply, have the goal of delivering a stiff middle finger to corporate music. Intriguingly enough, the albums great artwork, resembling the work of Salvador Dali, was created by Daron’s father, Vartan…. The main single ‘B.Y.O.B’ (Bring you own bombs) crashes along like a freight train, manic vocals, twisted instrumentals and pure insanity. They’re a band that have never been afraid to state their opinions on the US political front, and in Mezmerize, the band voice their concerns on multiple occasions.
‘Revenga’ incorporates the singing talents of guitarist Malakian, as well as lead singer Serj Tankian - and whilst the vocals are standard SOAD - the song itself upholds the manic theme of the album, with one of the most intricate pieces of guitar work you could ask for, but what Malakian adds to the band, in terms of singing, is a difference. Admittedly his voice doesn’t quite carry the variety that Tankian does, but it gives them the chance to mix two completely different pitches into one blended sound - a sound that well defines System Of A Down, and Mezmerize in particular. Some may well say that ‘Cigaro’ just takes things a little bit too far on terms of lyrics, but musically the track carries all the punch of what’s come previously.
‘Radio/Video’, for me one of the best tracks is also the one most likely to appeal to the mainstream music market. The band deters from the total mayhem that marks their music and delivers the catchiest song on the record to date. Mezmerize, and it’s absolute off the wall vibe, has grabbed me in a way no other album has done since Iron Maiden’s “Number of the Beast”, and that’s a testament to a band that aren’t afraid to be different - and chances are, if you dislike first single ‘B.Y.O.B’, then you’ll totally love the rest of the album, as they are none alike.
“I can't see your souls through your eyes, The crying walls of sliding architecture, Kidnapped by the likes of pure conjecture, Upholstery loving men all dwelling in the wells, Kidnapped by the likes of pure conjecture” - ‘This Cocaine Makes Me Feel Like I’m On This Song’ is the only track I’d be likely to pass. Whilst the guitar work is once again to top notch, the vocals seem somehow forced here.
‘Violent Pornography’ gives the album it’s punch - constantly repeated verse backed by a basic, what some will see as blatantly offensive lyrics, others will see as daring to be different, and parents... their is a ‘parental advisory’ label on it, not that they have any great effect on sales these days….
‘Question’, strummed acoustic intro and all, is a power explosion to the mind, one so typical of Toxicity album…
Both ‘Sad Statue’ and Old School Hollywood fit along with everything that’s come before has done, delivering that certain power that places System Of A Down above their peers. The albums highlight is undoubtedly closer ‘Lost In Hollywood’, an eerie tune, sung almost exclusively by guitarist Malakian about the state of America’s media industry. It’s an honest point that makes for a spectacular song.
Mezmerize is ‘the’ album of this millennium - it experiments to no end, it pushes the listener past new barriers, and most essentially…. it rocks. The guitar work is amazing, and as for the second part of this double disc release: bring it on!