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4.06 | 70 ratings | 2 reviews
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Album · 2005


1. Soldier Side (intro) (1:03)
2. B.Y.O.B. (4:15)
3. Revenga (3:48)
4. Cigaro (2:11)
5. Radio/Video (4:09)
6. This Cocaine Makes Me Feel Like I'm on This Song (2:08)
7. Violent Pornography (3:31)
8. Question! (3:20)
9. Sad Statue (3:25)
10. Old School Hollywood (2:56)
11. Lost in Hollywood (5:20)

Total Time: 36:11


- Serj Tankian / vocals, keyboards, guitars
- Daron Malakian / vocals, guitars, bass, keyboards
- Shavo Odadjian / bass
- John Dolmayan / drums

About this release

Digipak CD released in 2005 by Columbia Records (in the U.S.), American/Columbia (in the U.K.) and Sony Japan (in Japan).

Thanks to Pekka for the updates


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The Angry Scotsman
2005. It was a good time to be an angsty American teen!

The George W regime was at its zenith, the war in Iraq was at the boiling point here, and System of a Down was releasing new material! A double album to boot! The first half of which was "Mezmerize". Man did I spin the hell out of this album, quite literally. Back when the easiest way to listen to music was on a CD player.

"Mezmerize" has the SoaD staples: heavy guitar, wild stop and go song structures, overall whackiness and multi meaning (what exactly are they talking about) lyrics. However, while undeniably their sound, things have changed quite a bit.

This album has everything they've done, but amplified. A progression. The music is more melodic, more intense, more progressive and aggressive, often all in one song! It's truly frenetic and chaotic, while still lovably accessible. The album borders on prog metal, crammed into mostly sub 5 minute songs.

"Mezmerize" is a lot more intense than anything the band's done before, with lots of thrash metal riffing and drumming, (including a decent helping of double bass). It's also more melodic with almost every song featuring a subdued section. Any desperate cries of "ew nu metal" have to be thrown away by now. Even the heaviness of the album is not the caliber of heaviness from prior albums... That bottom string, first 3 fret sound.

The other thing that really stands out from previous albums, Daron has a much bigger role vocally. In fact, the singing is pretty much an even contribution. It's not just all harmonized either, Daron has plenty of stand alone singing. Really shows off his weird, high pitched singing style. I like it, and while it almost wants to border on annoying it never does. Serj is of course brilliant, and all over the place.

Right off the bat we start with an...acoustic song. A lone, clean guitar melody plays while Serj and Daron sing a wonderful duet. Beautifully somber.

Then we're hurled into "B.Y.O.B." a thrashy song with a starting riff not like anything System has done before. There are some mellow parts and some absolutely explosive parts. They blow up the quietness of the song like a bomb blowing up the quietness of an Iraqi desert. Ooooooooo System of a Down I see what you did there. Its anti Iraq war lyrics are as direct as SoaD will ever be.

"Revenga" has an awesome machine gun riff that alternates with a simple riff under soaring vocals. A more singing oriented song that also has some cool drumming and powerful build to an awesome finish.

"Cigaro" is a crazy thrashy song with some of the more ridiculous, WTF lyrics on the album. Some really cool moments (what an interlude) and epic moshing. First heard this song when it leaked and was shocked to hear John's double bass drumming at one point!

"Radio/Video" contrasts with a more subdued song. Lots of clean, Middle Eastern guitar work and pretty sweet vocals. A long, Arabian Polka interlude (I think) that really builds in intensity is the best part. As usual, the lyrics are up to interpretation, but I do think part of this song is certainly about the band making it big and feeling like sell outs.

"This Cocaine Makes Me Feel Like I'm on this song" well that is probably the best way to describe this one! A whacked out song with crazy melodies, riffs, vocals and lyrics that I won't even take a stab at. Fun, silly, crazy song.

"Violent Pornography" is a catchy song with a crazy vocal duet and crazier lyrics. My stab at this one is the general degradation of society, like a non stop disco (it's just too much fun!) and how sickening the media much as yeah, a violent pornography.

"Question!" is just an awesome song that is beautiful and powerful. The quiet sections are great and there is a great flow to the song, especially over the second half. Really moves.

"Sad Statue" is another thrashy, political song with some downright somber, bleak moments. Good music, but my god this is one of the most lyrically powerful songs I've hear. Early on I mentioned 2005 being the height of the Bush administration, and Iraq becoming a bitter taste and not just for fun. The whole album, but especially this song channels that time and feeling of anger so perfectly.

I took "Eloquence belongs to the conqueror" and "two pictures of time and space rearranged, in this little peace of typical tragedy" to mean that the reality of the War in Iraq (conquer)was twisted into a good thing (eloquence) to so many Americans. "Justified Candy" was the justification of taking candy from a kid...and that justified candy was "Brandy for the Nerves" so some could feel numb about it.

That, plus everything about the Bush administration and state of the countru, it will be known forever as a sad time for America. The line "You and me will all go down in history with a sad statue of liberty, and a generation that didn't agree" was always one that struck me hard.

"Old School Hollywood" has a dance feel mixed, (topped with some synth) mixed with its classic SoaD muddy feel. Another catchy song with a great structure and movement. It's about a celebrity baseball game Daron once attended and being a huge fan of baseball was just happy to hit around in the park, but realized he was with old school, washed up hollywood people and felt put off by their self absorbed, serious personalities. Leads perfectly into

"Lost in Hollywood" the most unique song made by System yet. Entirely clean, (yup not one heavy guitar note to be found), slow, melancholic and sung by Daron with Serj being the back up guy. A very mellow song musically, with Daron singing about Hollywood and how it's a dirty place that ruins people. A warning to the kids with dreams of being a star not to go, that they'll build you up and say nice things, just to use you and feed off you, as you slowly die. Like maggots would do.

To keep it SoaD style, some eye raising sillyness is thrown in "all you bitches put your hands in the air and wave em like you just dont care" which I know is a reference to some rap's awkward and unusual and that's how they like it.

Amazing way to end an amazing album. Still SoaD though a bit different from their earlier work, another great display of the bands almost progressive metal, punk fueled yet always accessible style. This album has been called "schizophrenic" and there's no better way to describe it. Well, besides amazing.

Five Stars

On the day this album came out I took a bus to the store, came back home, laid down on my bed and listened through headphones. And laughed in awe for more or less the entire duration of the album. And put it on again straight away. And again...and again....and again...and again...and again...and again...and again...and again... until at the end of that same day I counted I had listened to it 19 or 20 times. Is that 100 words yet, I don't think I need to say more?

Oh well. Up to this point System of a Down had been loved by their fans and ignored by everyone else, but because of this album there started to be some division among the faithful. The main issue was of course the dramatically increased vocal input from Daron Malakian at the expense of the iconic voice of Serj Tankian. But the way I look at it, now we've got two great vocalists for the price of one, and a crapload of stunning vocal harmonies. People complain that Daron's voice is too whiny and they've got a point there, but imagine Serj crying "Tony Danza cuts in line!" with his mighty voice, and it just doesn't work. When Daron does it, it's absolutely hilarious, and the song Old School Hollywood one of the highlights of the album.

From an album chock full of excellent material I'd like to lift a couple of tracks that epitomize the perfection that System of a Down are capable of: the thrashy verses and disco party chorus of B.Y.O.B., the choking chics and sodomy set to a cheerful children's song melody in Violent Pornography, the complicated verse rhythms of Question! (which judging by one live video bassist Shavo Odadjian was completely unable to pull off live, Daron had played most of the album's bass parts in studio) and the emotional ballad of the perils of Hollywood, Lost in Hollywood.

After that first day of listening I kept a habit of about ten listens a day for some time and nowadays when I think of my favourite albums of all time, this is always either #1 or 2. Too bad I can only give five stars.

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