Review Summary: Quite possibly the pinnacle of System Of A Down's musical career, Mezmerize is an experience not to be missed by lovers of all rock music.
System Of A Down. Quite possibly the most unlikely success story in music that there ever has been. 4 guys influenced by their roots from the tiny Eastern Euorpean country of Armenia with an incredibly unique sound and lyrics which defy belief at times. But somehow they've managed to acquire a fan base spanning millions of people across the globe, and why? Well Mezmerize is that answer in a nutshell basically. It's a shade over 36 minutes of absolute carnage, and quite possibly the most fun you will ever have listening to an album.
And yes, while this carnage does bring about some totally unlistenable songs, the overall experience is something that will leave you breathless and wanting more and more System. This album definetly shows a progression from their earlier work, as rightly or wrongly Daron Malakian has taken over a considerable percentage of the vocals when compared to previous work, but also Mezmerize shows a definte progression in his guitar work as well, which is certainly a plus for the band. This is shown in a number of songs, but most noticeably in the single 'B.Y.O.B' where is thrash-metal style riff is certainly something to behold.
Track By Track Breakdown
1. Soldier Side - Intro - 1:08
- Not really too much to say on this song. Clocking in at just over 1 minute it lets the reader settle in, but hardly prepares them for the insanity that's to follow. (2 out of 5)
2. B.Y.O.B. - 4:15
- Without doubt this is the best song off the album and alongside Chop Suey the best song System have ever recorded. 'B.Y.O.B.' incorparates everything that is good about the band as firstly it shows off Malakian's much technically improved guitar riffing (as mentioned earlier) and also is the best use of his voice throughout the entire album as his screaming of 'Why Do They Always send the poor?' is something to behold and is generally a lot better than his nasily singing. And as well as that, 'B.Y.O.B.' also has decent lyrics, something which is unusual for System. 'Why dont Presidents fight the war, Why do they always send the poor' is not exactly groundbreaking but it does show they've at least thought about putting something meaningful into their music (5 out of 5)
3. Revenga - 3:48
- After the blitz from 'B.Y.O.B.' its straight into another frantically paced tune. And again Malakian's voice is more evident than it ever was in Toxicity or Steal This Album! And again they just about get away with it as his voice fits in well with the song and his wails of 'I saw her laugh, then she said go away' are filled with emotion, something usually unasscoiated with SOAD. (4.5 out of 5)
4. Cigaro - 2:11
- The first song of three which probably come under the category of 'unlistenable.' Why on earth they feeld the need to talk about the size of their cocks is beyond me. And this is certainly one of those times that Malakian's voice is impossible to listen to without wanting to smack him in the face, its just that bad and annoying. Tankian does his best to rescue the song but its all too little too late in the end. (2 out of 5)
5. Radio/Video - 4:09
- Another very weak song that we really could've done without and at this point I was left thinking that 'Revenga' and 'B.Y.O.B.' were one offs rather than setting the tone for the rest of the album. This time Malakian's voice is no longer annoying and is replaced my something much worse. It's weak, and lacks any real passion or desire unlike the earlier mentioned tracks, and unfortuantely Tankian seems to have suffered the same fate. Meaning this song has no appeal to me whatsoever and sounds like it belongs in a low budget circus rather than a high quality album. (1.5 out of 5)
6. This Cocaine Makes Me Feel Like I'm On This Song - 2:08
- Finally we get back to what I had been hoping for from the get go. This song is really System in a nutshell. Its basically Serj Tankian singing extremely quickly and making no sense whatsoever, while Malakian backs him up with more lighting fast guitar work. The lyrics on the this song are awful. 'I hope your stepson doesnt eat the fish' is just one example, but you know what I don't care, It's why I love System Of A Down. The fact that they can write songs like this and still sound unbelievable while performing them. (4.5 out of 5)
7. Violent Pornography - 3:31
- Another classic from Mezmerize. This song is very, very catchy and Malakian once again goes back to sounding almost cool on this song and the hatred that I had built up from 'Cigaro' and 'Radio/Video' has disappeared completely because you can't help but laugh when he sings 'It's a violent pornography, Choking Chicks and Sodomy.' Maybe not a one for all you feminists out there, but I absolutely love it! (4.5 out of 5)
8 Question! - 3:20
- One of the slower (if you can call it that) songs on the album and it's another gem. Rather thankfully it's sung mostly by Tankian, and while the lyrics are once again terrible: 'Sweet berries ready for two ghosts are no different than you' it really doesn't matter as once again Malakian's excellent axe work is magnificent, especially towards the end and Tankian's burst of 'Lalalalalalala' gives the song much needed energy and ensures the album doesn't run out of steam after the brilliance of the last 2 songs. (4 out of 5)
9. Sad Statue - 3:25
- I'm a little bit torn with this song. While I loved it for the first couple of plays i've started to grow a little tiresome of it as firstly it sounds a bit too similar to 'Question!' directly before it and the chrous is quite weak. It's not a bad song by any means, but given what's gone before it, it is just a little but disappointing. (3.5 out of 5)
10. Old School Hollywood - 2:56
- I think the less I write about this song the better to be honest. It's moments like this when I think 'Why exactly do I like these guys?' I just don't get this song at all, and once again I feel like smacking Malakian square in the mouth for his attempts at 'singing about baseball, and thats all I have to say on the matter. I would strongly advise against listening to this (1 out of 5)
11. Lost In Hollywood - 5:20
- A bit of an odd choice of song really, especially from what has gone before. It's a very slow song sang entirely by Malakian and from what I can gather is a slur about all of the Hollywood 'fags' out there. While this song should be a complete disaster it isn't and to a certain degree it works as Malakian's vocals are sincere and it's obvious he has a problem with 'All you maggots smoking fags on Hollywood Boulevard.' It does drag on for about a minute too long, but it's a nice, relaxing change from the carnage that has come beforehand. (3.5 out of 5)
So, all in all Mezmerize is very nearly the perfect album, and despite a couple of rather obvious flaws it is without doubt a must listen to album and quite possibly the best that Sytem Of A Down will ever release.
This Cocaine Makes Me Feel Like I'm On This Song
Old School Hollywood