SYSTEM OF A DOWN
Easily one of the most visionary rock groups to receive worldwide recognition and sell platinum in America, the latest 12 tracks released by spastically metallic juggernaut System of a Down both dazzles and confounds. The second installment from the twin disc from this left of center Armenian outfit employs a plethora of devices found on the first installment MESMERIZE, only with seemingly sharper focus, a tad heavier all around, and emblazoned with a more prominent vocal role by Daron Malakian. HYPNOTIZE starts off with “Attack”, a bombastic old school metal riff where Malakian’s love of black metal’s driving guitars becomes clearer than ever. “Kill Rock ‘N Roll” juxtaposes punk rock pretense and System’s unique viewpoint about the vacuous wasteland better known as Hollywood, almost mocking other bands for buying into the plan. The title track displays the shimmering guitar lines and Eastern influences that usually raise the ire of metal enthusiasts who disqualify System’s brand of heavy as pertinent, but the very next song “Stealing Society”, decked out with adeptly precise speed metal riffs and a headbangingly jarring rhythm, rivals any metal on today’s front in terms of sonic riffaging and powerhouse percussion. Always presenting contradiction and never short on controversy, “U-Fig” questions blind patriotism with a tongue in cheek cheerleader-esque refrain that many will undoubtedly misinterpret the same way they did Cobain’s inner turmoil before his untimely demise. “Holy Mountains”, a track about the Armenian genocide that delves into System’s ancestry more overtly than ever, is laden with System’s infamous politically charged fervor, and is epic in every sense of the word. Despite its redundancy and odd length for a SOAD tune (clocking over 5 minutes), it manages to retain an aura of elegance unlike anything else on the disc. Then there’s “Victims of Obscenity”, a track with the band’s most nonsensical lyrics to date, backed by a vicious thrash metal assault yielding to a funky wah-wah chorus that sound like it belongs from a ‘80s television show theme song. System of A Down raises awareness levels as much as heightens musical expectations like never before on HYPNOTIZE, so while the somber “Lonely Day” may fail some listeners on both fronts, it serves as a simplistic yet impassioned reminiscence of the paranoia filled world which enabled the band to create this mammoth endeavor in the first place. Where other bands pander and cater, System bucks and pushes, striving to incite both riots and righteousness in a realm struggling to contain and repress. HYPNOTIZE is another intense offering by one of the most enthralling bands in heavy music in the last three decades, emitting both raw power and ambitious musicianship unlike anything in 2005.