Hypnotize by System of a Down

First published by Morning Star, 26th November 2005

Rock Band Stands Up Against Inhuman Politics

A review of System of A Down’s album Hypnotize.

This week, System of a Down are releasing their fifth studio album, Hypnotize, following on from their summer album Mezmerize. The two albums dovetail together effortlessly.

Hypnotize maintains the same complexity of their other works, moving seamlessly between the operatic heights climbed by singer Serj Tankian, the foreboding darkness thrashed out by bassist Shavo Odadjian and the metronome-like accuracy of drummer John Dolmayan, as always all under the watchful gaze of lead guitarist Daron Malakian.

The crystal-clear production of Rick Rubin and Malakian makes Hypnotize a pleasure to listen to.

The band have always taken a stand against the inhumanity of modern politics and imperialist foreign policies. Few fans could forget the video to Boom, filmed at the anti-war protest of February 15 2003.

And, equally, this new album doesn’t disappoint. Reading through the lyrics of Hypnotize as you listen to it, the bluntness, the humour, the political depth and the humanity couldn’t be clearer.

Track Holy Mountain is a heart-rending cry for recognition of the Armenian genocide, while She’s Like Heroin brings the horrors closer to home.

For some, true art shouldn’t be like flipping burgers for the McMusic industry. There needs to be something more. In short, the artists have to cut off an emotional ear – at the very least metaphorically.

Few people who listen to any of the System of a Down albums to date, including Hypnotize, could accuse them of churning out the same run-of-the-mill emotionless tat that infests the mainstream music industry. Every chord, note, beat and lyric feels like there is a damn important reason for it to be there.

System of a Down are, year on year, gaining wider acclaim, higher sales and they are even refining and getting better.

Hypnotize fits perfectly into a back catalogue that already makes a best of album impossible. How could you choose what to leave off?