It’s been almost three years since SOAD released an album and they are making up for it with what will be two completely excellent cds, Mezmerize and the forthcoming companion piece Hypnotize.
Spastic, frenetic, insane, rapidly changing tempos, all of these words can describe SOAD at their best. I can’t think of another band out there right now doing the same things. Nor can I think of a band that can go from a screaming rock directly to a polka. SOAD does this and pulls it off, creating original music that is enjoyable to listen to. Where most music is static, songs like the single BYOB and basically every song on this cd are constantly changing. They go from screaming fits, gutteral cries, to catchy refrains and yes even polka. But before you get comfortable with whatever sound they are giving you, they switch it up. This is music to listen to, dynamic, changing, exciting.
Whether they are critiquing the current war (“Why don’t presidents fight their wars/why do they always send the poor?”) to Hollywood in the songs Old School Hollywood and Lost in Hollywood where they sing about Hollywood eating people up and spitting them back out, they are unapologetically brazen. Unlike some bands that have a political eye but use it only as a theme and don’t directly discuss it, SOAD is brave enough to paint the picture of whatever problems they see. Also, unlike some music, their songs never feel bogged down by their political persuasion.
On some of their previous albums, there have been songs that seemed to not be as focused as I would like. That is no longer the case on Mezmerize. Each song is more driven and remind me of the excellence found on their previous cds, like Aerials, Toxicity, Chop Suey, Sugar etc. Truth be told, I think Toxicity has some better songs like the aforementioned Chop Suey, Aerials etc than Mezmerize. BUT overall I enjoyed Mezmerize better. As a whole album, I think it’s better. Individually, I enjoyed some of the earlier songs more.
In a move that is bitter sweet, the cd is only about 35 minutes long. What that means is that there really aren’t any filler songs. Each song is a standout and unique in their own way. It’s a cd you should listen front to back and not skip songs. For the entire 35 minutes your senses will be assaulted by some of the best songs I have heard in a long time. The downside to it being only 35 minutes is of course it leaves you wanting more. More of the originality, more of the crazy lyrics that really do make sense if you just think about them, more of the spastic and frenetic speeds and constantly changing time signatures. It is excellent.
Like I said earlier, overall it’s their best so far. And if you, like me, want more, Hypnotize is just around the corner ready for release in the fall. I agree with my fellow reviewers that Hypnotize might end up being a much bigger album. You get the feeling, listening to this album that it will be a tasty appetizer to what will probably be the best album of 05. Who knows. Either way, thanks, System of a Down, for bringing originality and freshness back to music.