After the demise of Rage Against the Machine in 2000, Southern California metal band System of a Down essentially inherited the status of the most political band in mainstream alternative rock. The band solidified this role with its smash hit 2001 album Toxicity, an album laden with extreme political lyrics. It has been almost four years since the release of Toxicity, the last proper studio album from SOAD, not including 2002’s Steal This Album!, which was mostly a collection of b-sides and throwaways. The band is back with the short and sweet Mezmerize, the first of two new albums that SOAD will release this year. And while Mezmerize is no new rock classic, it is a surprisingly catchy album and quite an enjoyable listen.
Mezmerize starts off with the short one minute intro song “Soldier Side/Intro.” This song is a complete waste of time and really isn’t worth listening to more than once or twice. The opening track lulls you almost to sleep before the band unleashes the powerful and politically charged first single “B.Y.O.B.,” short for Bring Your Own Bomb. This is a crushing track that contains verses so fast paced that it might make you feel like you are repeatedly being punched in the face. The song also contains a very catchy hook that will be sure to stay in your head the rest of the day. “B.Y.O.B.” not only opens the album quite well, but it also demonstrates a new addition to SOAD’s sound evident throughout the rest of the disc. While lead singer Serj Tankian still takes care of main vocal duties, he gets quite a bit of help on Mezmerize from guitarist Daron Malakian. Malakian really adds a new dimension to SOAD’s sound and his vocals compliment Tankian’s quite well. After “B.Y.O.B.,” the band maintains the torrid pace of its sound on the next four tracks “Revenga,” “Cigaro,” “Radio/Video,” and “This Cocaine Makes Me Feel Like I’m On This Song.” All four songs are pretty solid and they all contain lyrics that might have you laughing out loud, especially Tankian and Malakian’s comical verses in “Cigaro” where they declare “my cock is much bigger than yours, my cock can walk right through the door…”
The band takes it down a notch on track seven, the equally comical but at the same time serious “Violent Pornography.” Aside from “B.Y.O.B.” this was my favorite song on Mezmerize as it contains a very catchy chorus that you wouldn’t want to start singing out loud in public. Perhaps the album’s weakest song comes at track eight, the song “Question!.” While the song isn’t horrible, it’s just a bit too much of the same. The band finishes up the album quite well with “Sad Statue,” “Old School Hollywood,” and “Lost In Hollywood.” “Old School Hollywood” displays well the vocal talents of Malakian and he is mostly what makes the song work.
All in all, Mezmerize is a surprisingly satisfying listen. It contains at least a handful of solid songs and even the weaker tracks are half decent. The album really does not contain one bad song, although some of the later tracks, with the exception of “Violent Pornography” aren’t quite up to par with the first part of Mezmerize. If you have never been a big fan of System of a Down, Mezmerize is perhaps the best introduction to the band’s sound and message. The album is intensely political, but at the same time it’s a pretty easy and quick listen, clocking in at just over thirty-six minutes in length. If you’re looking for a decent album to rock out to, then Mezmerize is definitely an album to pick up. [ END ]
01. Soldeir Side – Intro
06. This Cocaine Makes Me Feel Like I’m on This Song
07. Violent Pornography
09. Sad Statue
10. Old School Hollywood
11. Lost in Hollywood
Run Time: 36:06