Mezmerize

Studio Album by released in 2005
Mezmerize's tracklist:
Soldier Side (intro)
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B.Y.O.B.
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Revenga
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Cigaro
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Radio/Video
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This Cocaine Makes Me Feel Like I'm on This Song
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Violent Pornography
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Question!
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Sad Statue
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Old School Hollywood
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Lost in Hollywood
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Mezmerize review

Just when you thought there was nothing left to be done with rock along came System Of A Down. Adjectives like "ambitious," "jagged," and "startling" have always defined them, and their third official full-length is no different. Mezmerize is the first of two related albums from Armenian metallurgists; Hypnotize is due in the fall. Compared to this infuriated, intricately detailed delirium, System Of A Down's previous album, 2001's Toxicity, was classicist-metal insurgence. Mezmerize is thrilling confrontation, a graphic reflection of a nation tearing itself apart in anger, fear and guilt. It's a brilliant and dynamic musical painting of heavy metal, world music of various ethnicities, freewheeling circus keyboards, operatic-to-cookie-monster vocals (from both Serj Tankian and guitarist Daron Malakian), and even disco.

On Soldier Side Malakian and Tankian harmonize as they do throughout the record, and Malakian's guitar has a mournful, Eastern air. But it's just a lull before B.Y.O.B., a thrash assault pierced with rabid and incredulous screams. On a hellfire-protest B.Y.O.B. bumblebee guitars lay on a bed of anti-war lyrics. The Zappa-schizophrenia and lyrical acumen also flows freely through Cigaro, Violent Pornography and the outrageous This Cocaine Makes Me Feel Like I'm On This Song. They haven't lost one iota of their political fearlessness or sense of humor, and that makes them all the more intriguing when compared to much of their so-called hard-rock brethren. Sad Statue is a straight, breathless race through hammered-note guitar heaven that suddenly breaks into a half-time blackened-pop chorus, a brief but striking upfront burst of the disappointment and surrender lurking deep inside even heavy artillery like Violent Pornography and Revenga. Mezmerize closes with the nearest thing in System Of A Down's playbook to sympathy Lost in Hollywood, a requiem for a runaway with rainy-gray-treble guitars and gilded with monastic-prayer harmonies. It is an unexpected, affecting way to end a record of otherwise pure psychosis. But even this most conventional song is a monster, a chugging and mesmerizing dark tale of a dark place.

The L.A. band's music is forceful, sensitive, intelligent, exciting and palatable — and light years beyond most. Mezmerize delivers even further frenzied shifts in direction and sudden outbursts in tempo and atmosphere, largely without warning. East European vocal melodies from a bunch of American Armenians, socio-political anger, fiendishly complex song structures, heavy crunching guitars and sing along choruses back to back with breakneck speedfreak verses split up with complex fills. This is a music so complex — yet somehow will be arriving at number one in the worldwide album charts. Guitarist Daron Malakian seems to be the System Of A Down man who is pushing the band this time out, not only playing six fingered guitars, but also doing loads of the vocals as well. He might not have the sheer vocal gymnastics of vocalist Serj Tankian, but he gives the album even more color, even more variety. This is, perhaps, System Of A Down’s most artistic and intelligent album. Whereas Toxicity was pure math/prog metal craziness (with a dash of brains), Mezmerize is quick, witty, and something rarely seen in modern music: creative and actually smart.