It’s been awhile since System of a Down has come out with a new album. “Toxicity” is still one of my favorite albums that I listen to over and over again, and I was wondering how they could even top that. Well, they came out with a great new album, “Mezmerize,” which definitely shows us that this band still has what it takes. The album brings you a variety of haunting, melodic and hyperactive songs that are bound to stay stuck in your head. It’s not without its flaws, but the album still delivers.
Basically, if you have heard System of a Down before, then you know what to expect. Crazy and political-driven lyrics that can be hard to decipher at times, although this time around it seems a little easier to tell what each song is about. Songs like “B.Y.O.B.” “revenga,” “cigaro” and “violent pornography will give you an instant dose of road rage should you play them in your car, while there are other songs like “sad statue,” “question!” and “lost in hollywood” that are a little slower and more melodic. The songs are emotional, powerful and sometimes even funny. All of the songs sound different and you’re never feeling like you’re hearing the same song again once you go to the next tune.
While this is a great album… it could’ve been an EXCELLENT album. What’s the problem? Simple. Daron, one of the other vocalists in the group and who is also credited to a bunch of the songs (musically and lyrically) gets WAY too much singing time on this album. I don’t have a problem with his voice, but in my opinion he does not have what it takes to carry an entire song or a MAJORITY of a song. Leave that to Serj, please. Serj can turn anything into gold. Daron is good for hooks and backing up Serj, and I don’t mind him having more air time on a song here and there, but when you get the feeling that he has more vocal time than Serj… something just isn’t right. I was really disappointed by that, but it still doesn’t make this album awful. It still delivers as being a great new release from the group.
You may want to listen to “Mezmerize” a few times before you give a verdict on it. I know for me it usually takes me a few listens to fully absorb a System of a Down album. They never immediately get me going, “Oh, this is the greatest!” but that’s okay. It’s more power to them that they make me want to listen to it more and more until I finally get a great grasp onto what the album really is. Not too many other bands I know can do that. You either love them right away or you hate them immediately. The album length is shorter than their previous releases, but you have to remember that “Toxicity” isn’t that long of an album, either. They’re always fast paced with a few slow songs to help balance everything out.
Favorite songs are, “B.Y.O.B,” “revenga,” “violent pornography,” “question!” “sad statue” and “lost in hollywood.” I really enjoy listening to the album in whole, but those are the standout tracks to me.
“Mezmerize” isn’t perfect, and if Serj had gotten more air time it would’ve been an outstanding release. Still, it is a great album that shows that the band hasn’t lost their touch. If you’re a fan of their previous albums, then chances are you will like this, too. I can’t wait for the new album next year, and I hope Daron will be more in the background this time around and allow Serj do what he does best. Not perfect, but still a top-notch album with addicting tunes. -Michael Crane