Review Summary: System of a Down finally release an album that cannot be wholeheartedly recommended.
Throughout their lengthy careers, System of a Down managed to avoid falling into certain ruts. They were almost never plagued by bland lyrics, poor songwriting, and uninteresting vocals. This all changed, unfortunately, with the release of their final album, 2005’s Hypnotize
which did little, if anything, to stand out among System of a Down’s other, superior albums.
System of a Down began playing experimental and strange music, as seen on their debut album, System of a Down
. After this, however, they gradually changed their sound, making it more melodic and accessible, without significantly decreasing in quality. Their use of Armenian melodies became much more frequent, and guitarist Daron Malakian began to sing more and more often in his unspectacular voice. This worked to the band’s benefit on the album Mesmerize
, where the increased focus on melody seemed natural, and Daron’s voice fit well with Serj’s.
, however, shows this nu-metal titan slipping into mediocrity, with a majority of the music becoming forgettable drivel. Their lyrics descended from being a melting pot of biting commentary of the current world, harrowing tales of the Armenian Genocide, and witty and quirky nonsense to dull nonsense. Nevertheless, Hypnotize
still contains some songs that are able to stand among the band’s past material.
The most interesting composition on this album is undoubtedly the monumental Holy Mountains
. The song jumps from furious screams of
LIAR! KILLER! DEMON!
to restrained, acoustic passages with a string accompaniment. Serj’s voice is haunting and foreboding throughout the whole song, Daron wild screams and chugging riffs are fantastic, and the lyrics are arguably the band’s most profound of their entire career.
None of the other songs reach the height of Holy Mountains
, but some manage to come close. Notable is the melodic and mournful Soldier Side
, which laments over the deaths of soldiers, particularly during the Iraq War. Stealing Society
is a fast, fun romp featuring punk-esque guitar riffs, some imposing vocals from Serj, and a hilarious performance from Daron (probably his best with System of a Down). This is definitely one of System of a Down’s most entertaining songs, if not their most interesting.
Aside from these aforementioned songs and the decent Dreaming
, Kill Rock 'N' Roll
, and Attack
, the rest of the album is nearly worthless. Recycled melodies and riffs pervade through the album. Poor vocals are frequent. The lyrics frequently become nauseating. The best example of this is definitely the atrocious Lonely Day
. This song does nothing at all to distinguish itself from the average Boulevard of Broken Dreams
clone. A simple melody is sung over slow chords. The only break is a half-decent, but incredibly cheesy, guitar solo. While the song is musically boring, it is the painful lyrics that make Lonely Day
so repulsive. Lines such as
The most loneliest day of my life
sung in Daron’s sappiest voice are cringe inducing, to say the least. The rest of the songs fare better, but not by much.
contains some of System of a Down’s strongest material. However, these songs are few and between them lies an ocean of filler that brings the album down. I can’t recommend this album to anyone but huge System of a Down fans.