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System of a Down - Mezmerize

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  • System of a Down - Mezmerize
    June 14 2005

    System of a Down - Mezmerize
    Posted by El Bicho on June 14, 2005 02:03 AM (See all posts by El
    Filed under: Music - Scroll down to read comments on this story
    and/or add one of your own.

    System of a Down
    Music from Sony
    Release date: 17 May, 2005

    System of a Down returns with a new album Mezmerize, or maybe that
    should read "part of a new album" since this is the first disc in a
    two-disc set that will be completed when the Hypnotize disc comes out
    this fall.

    The sound of Mezmerize is slightly different from previous albums. It
    is still immediately recognizable as SOAD, but guitarist/songwriter
    Daron Malakian takes a more prominent role with the vocals, including
    lead on a few tracks. The disc packs quite a wallop into 36 minutes
    with its thought-provoking lyrics and its angry, relentless assault
    on the injustices of the world.

    Mezmerize opens with the slow, acoustic "Soldier Side - Intro" a play
    on the suffix "cide." Then the album descends into the sonic madness
    that is their first single "B.Y.O.B." This anti-war song is chaotic
    and schizophrenic, constantly changing tempos and styles, going from
    speed metal to funky, dance floor groove to a punk rock mosh pit.
    Daron shrieks at the beginning "Why do they always send the poor?"
    and this question is repeated maniacally throughout so the war isn't
    forgotten when "Everybody's going to the party".

    Other strong songs include "This Cocaine Makes Me Feel Like I'm On
    This Song", which captures the rush and agitation brought on by the
    drug, and "Radio/Video", which brings to the forefront the Armenian
    roots of the band. It begins hard, fast and loud like most of their
    others, but after the first chorus, Middle Eastern rhythms play under
    the second chorus. The first and second choruses along with their
    musical styles are repeated; then the bridge increases the tempo of
    the Middle Eastern rhythms. It would be perfect for whirling

    The quality of the music even makes up for the times when I don't
    comprehend the story behind the lyrics. In my defense, a lot of the
    songs' lyrics are long, repeated choruses with no verses that could
    provide extra information. If you don't know what the song is about,
    it might be tough to decipher the story unless you read an interview
    where Daron and Serj explain themselves.

    For example, "Violent Pornography" rails against "the kinda of shit
    you get on your TV", but the only example of the "shit" is "choking
    chicks and sodomy", which is more prevalent on the Internet. The
    remedy they offer is "Turn off your TV", but if television is the
    problem, there other ills they could point to as well.

    I don't need my hand held when it comes to lyrics, but some clues to
    point me in the right direction are always helpful. It's not a knock
    against the band because there's plenty of rock 'n' roll with
    indecipherable lyrics that I have sung along to because of how good
    the music was. I only bring up the point because some of their songs
    have very intriguing lyrics, like the well-written line, "Eloquence
    belongs to the conqueror" from "Sad Statue," which make me want to
    understand a song's story.

    The only major misfire is "Old School Hollywood." It opens with
    keyboards, a vocoder and Daron singing about playing in a celebrity
    baseball game at Dodger Stadium. All I could think about, other than
    it's too bad Dr. Demento radio show isn't around anymore, is who the
    hell cares? This album is filled with serious political tracks that
    provide food for thought, making this mocking look at a show business
    event that Daron took part in completely incongruous. Some old guys
    didn't know who he was. Boo freakin' hoo! You're a rock star. I don't
    know how I'm supposed to connect with this. Besides, the song is not
    even controversial. Daron calls out Tony Danza who "cuts in line" in
    front of him by calling him "washed-up." *****h, that'll show 'em.

    The album closes with an acoustic ballad "Lost in Hollywood," a song
    that covers some very familiar subject matter about how tough
    Hollywood is because a lot of people who come out to realize their
    dreams get used up and spit out. The music has a nice melody and
    shows a potential musical direction for the band even though the
    lyrics are cliched.

    Even though the album ends weakly after starting so strong, Mezmerize
    has me curious to hear what Hypnotize has to offer this fall, but it
    better be over 44 minutes or fans might wonder why the need two
    albums. They might get turned off and see it as being similar to the
    marketing scam of that split the horrendous Kill Bill into Volumes 1
    and 2.