Boy Hits Car
Tracklist01. Soldier 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
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Read any Rock publication, browse any alternative music website, absorb any real rock criticism, and you'll see we're in the midst of a nu-metal revival.
Of course we all know about Wes Borland re-joing Limp Bizkit, which, sadly, didn't seem to have any positive effect on their music; their new album (surprise!) sucks. Deftones have a new one coming out this summer, the follow up to their horrible and disappointing self-titled release. Mudvayne just released a new one, but as with all of their releases, it has no substance. And Trent Reznor's NIN (though known for being more industrious than nu-metal, though some elements of the style do exist) recently released With Teeth which debuted at number one on billboard, despite receiving a lot negative press.
And now System of a Down, who, mind you, have always been different than their respective peers, have released Mezmerize, the first in a series of two coinciding/like records. The other album, Hypnotize, is due out later this fall. So far this year, Mezmerize is the most important and essential rock record you will buy.
And the timing couldn't be more perfect for System. President Bush's war in Iraq is rapidly getting worse, and by most accounts, mainstream America, as well as mainstream music, lack voices speaking out about it. Serj Tankian lyrics on this album are his most angry and his most insightful yet. Rather than rehashing recycled anti-war and anti-consumerism lyrical rhetoric, he objectively sees America how he wants to see it: as a country misled by a President out for power; as a nation consumed by consumerism, at the mercy of aggressive advertising. And depending on your own personal beliefs, such messages will either inspire you or leave you rolling your eyes with disgust.
The brilliant thing about System, illustrated and executed perfectly on this album, is their ability to not take themselves one hundred percent serious one hundred percent of the time. "My cock is much bigger than yours...can't you see I love my cock/can't you see you love my cock?" is one example which can be found on "Cigaro." (This song also has one of the catchiest refrains you'll find on the album.) "Radio/Video," a playful song, likely to be the band's next single, is also an example, beginning with, "Hey man lookin' at me rockin' out! I'm on the radio!" before entering a melody stolen straight from an early Final Fantasy game. "Violent Pornography" sounds as comical as the title might suggest with it's sing-a-long, playground style chants: "Everybody, everybody, everybody fucks/it's a violent pornography/choking chicks and sodomy/the kinda shit you see on your T.V." Mezmermize will both make you laugh and make you think.
Areas of the album deal strictly with the Iraq war : "Why do they always send the poor?" heard on B.Y.O.B which the band recently performed (without editing out vulgarity) on Saturday Night Live. Perhaps the most sensitive and, dare it be said, poetic moment can be found on "Sad Statue:" You and me will all go down in history/with a sad statue of liberty/and a generation that didn't agree." The harmonies on this song (and on most of the album) between Tankian and guitarist Daron Malakian, are flawless.
The production on Mezmerize is also perfect. Highs and lows normally heard only in headphones are distinctly noticeable. Sonically the album carries very well allowing System to succeed in not being just another heavy band; they sound just as good distorted as they do clean. Mezmerize is without question some of Rick Rubin's (producer) and Andy Wallace's (mixer) best work.
So would it be inappropriate to declare Mezmerize as System's best album yet? I think it is. I also think that given the current state of our country, as well as our current state of pop music, mainstream America needs System of a Down more than System of a Down needs it.
-Brent Steven White