I know there has been too many reviews on Hypnotize, but hey, there were around five reviews on Mezmerize before I could get my review out. Why did I decide to review later when I could've done it on the release date? Simple. I wanted to wait until there was official news about what the second single on Hypnotize would be before I could really show my opinion on the album. Anyway, Hypnotize is Mezmerize's sequel and out of the two albums, this is more worth getting. Why? More effort has been put on it than its predecessor and the music doesn't seem completely commercialized. My best friend ever thinks it's the worst album System of a Down have made in their complete works, but that's only because he has listened to a few songs off of it. Unlike Mezmerize, Hypnotize is hard to digest by only a few songs and is only a good album in its entirety. If this album had a mathematical equation it would be "Hypnotize = Mezmerize to the power of -1 (Mezmerize inverted)". However, I will still do a track by track analysis to show the high points and the low points of the album, because it's a tradition I have been keeping for many reviews.
System of a Down are:
Serj Tankian: Vocals/Keyboard
Daron Malakian: Vocals/Guitar
Shavo Odadjian: Bass
John Dolmayan: Drums
After listening to "Lost In Hollywood" on Mezmerize, you would think that Hypnotize would start soft as well. Wrong! System of a Down wanted to suprize people with the album opener by replacing the soft instrumental known as "Hezze" with this hard edged track. Sure, Daron Malakian's vocals might make this song relaxing after the heavy guitar riffing at the beginning, but when Serj Tankian comes in, the fun really starts. Serj's vocals and lyrics make the song sound like a more political Iron Maiden. The chorus is kind of confusing ("We attack/Attack, attack your fetal servitude/We attack/Attack, attack, attack with pesticide/We attack/All the years of propaganda/WE SHALL ATTACK!!!"), but it helps to give the track its heaviness. Overall, "Attack" is only good as an album opener and as an anthem for if you want to attack something.
After the album opener, we get to the track that really draws in the themes of Hypnotize. "Dreaming" starts off almost as hard as "Attack", but Serj's lyrics are more confusing than what he said in the chorus of the previous track ("We're the prophetic generation of bottled water, bottled water"), yet nonsensical lyrics are something to expect from System of a Down, so that doesn't detract from the brilliance of the song. Serj Tankian's vocals match "Attack" as well in these verses. However, he makes his voice stack on top of another set of his vocals, as if a massive tower was only built with his vocal chords. When the chorus kicks in, the song becomes softer and more depressing. My favourite part though is the bridge, in which Daron Malakian does his lines (you know you like a song off of System of a Down's recent work if you like what Daron's singing does to the song as well). The bridge he sings out is the best part of the song lyrically ("Dreaming of screaming/Someone kick me out of my mind/I hate these thoughts I can't deny") and I like the na-na-na-na-na-na-na's that come out later in the track. The song ends the same way it started and this is definitely one of Hypnotize's highlights. Too bad this wasn't the second single.
03. Kill Rock 'N Roll
Remember "Cigaro" on Mezmerize, the crazy song all about cocks? Well, this is the "Cigaro" on Hypnotize, a song about assholes. No, I don't mean the body part, I mean the people who feel like assholes for doing something wrong. The something wrong of course is killing rock 'n roll. I don't mean the music, I mean the bunny rabbit Daron ran over that inspired this song. Confused? So was I when I first went over the lyrical content. I didn't know what the lines "Eat all the grass that you want/Accidents happen in the dark" had to do with the music of rock 'n roll until I realized the meaning had nothing to do with that at all. As for the song's instrumentation and vocal interplay, it's the same as "Cigaro" except a little slower and a little softer. Anyway, the band managed to do a lot of neat things for the shortest song on this album and if you want a good song to mosh to, check this out.
Ah, the title track and the first single off the album. I still have the feelings I've had from it when I first heard it that it feels like yesterday. After some typical Middle Eastern powerchords on the guitar, Serj Tankian starts singing and at that split second the guitar, bass, and drums get heavier than before. After a few lines, Daron Malakian balances them out with some lines of his own that respond to Serj's. It's like a couple people have been talking to each other musically. Both vocalists sing the simple-minded chorus of "I'm just sitting in my car/And waiting for my girl" and by the time you get to it, it's sung so beautifully with the softer tone that returns. A solo comes in as well and it's a more twisted version of the Middle Eastern guitar play at the beginning. If you haven't heard the song before, give it a try. This was perfect material for the first single.
05. Stealing Society
Almost every album has its low points and "Stealing Society" is one of them. Sure, the music is energetic and Serj does a good job lyrically and vocally with lines like "Two skies/Watching it all, fading/Two skies/Living it all, fading/Two skies/Watching it all, fading/Two skies fading/One's abating", but all of a sudden, Daron kills the song by rapping. His rhymes sound like they were written by some mainstream rapper like 50 Cent ("Crack pipes, needles, PCP and fast cars/Kind of mix really well in a dead movie star"). If Daron didn't rap or sing in this song at all, this would have been a better song, but he just had to murder it somehow. However, he makes up for it with the "I'm a midnight fistfight" line.
There's rapping on this song too. However, it's done by Serj and his style of rhyming and the instrumentation in the verses seem almost the same as the chorus of "Sugar". The chorus of this song though is beautiful and makes the track what it is, even though the political lyrics are standard stuff for a band like System of a Down to come up with ("We're going down in a spiral to the ground/No one, no one's gonna save us now/Not even God, no one saved us/No one's gonna save us/Where do you expect us to go when the bombs fall?"). Other than that, not much I could say about this song except that it would have been average as the second single, which it is not.
The track starts off with a guitar riff that's very similar to the riff of Toxicity's title track, except faster. Serj Tankian and some heavier guitar then jump in at the same time (just like Hypnotize's title track) and Serj says some pretty strange statements ("Melt in the sun/Melt in the sun/Who wants to come with me and melt in the sun?/Hide in the sky/Hide in the sky/Who wants to come with me and hide in the sky?"). In the verses of this crazy song, Serj is pretending to be Jesus, because melting in the sun and hiding in the sky were some of the son of God's lesser known powers. What's stranger though is the chorus of "You and me/Should go outside and beat 'em beat 'em beat 'em, beat 'em beat 'em beat 'em/All pathetic flag waving ignorant geeks/And we'll eat 'em eat 'em eat 'em, eat 'em eat 'em eat 'em". Even though the chorus sounds almost the same as the chorus of Toxicity's title track, I was suprised on both the fact that Jesus would want to cannibalize and the fact that Serj Tankian could go really fast with his vocal abilities. Another song that's typical of the band, but like the song suggests, "It'll show your mind/That you have a mind".
08. Holy Mountains
It's a good thing that a mind was obtained from listening to "U-Fig", because a long song like "Holy Mountains" needs a lot of thought. Religious matters were touched on the two previous tracks and these matters really get explored here. The holy mountains of the song are within Turkey, but Armenians like the members of System of a Down have been trying to get it back for years and that's why this song is written. With words like "Liar, Killer, Demon/Back to the river Aras/Someone's blank stare deemed it warfare/Liar, Killer, Demon/Back to the river Aras/Freedom, Freedom, Free, Free", where can you go wrong? The bass, guitar, and drums are everything you would ever want from a lengthy metal track and it shows. Even though no long song from the band could ever top off the power of "Mind", "Holy Mountains" is still worthy of your time and thought and it shows.
09. Vicinity of Obscenity
This is the weirdest track on the album. How strange is it? More strange than any song from Frank Zappa, Primus, and Ween put together. "Vicinity of Obscenity" is the closest song to filler here, because most of the lyrics are either the word "banana" or the words "terracotta pie". However, this is probably the best filler song ever written, because Serj Tankian does most of the vocals and the way he goes through the words helps with the weirdness within the track. Just like "Dreaming", my favourite part of the song is the bridge. At this part, the guitar gets incredibly funky and Serj asks the crazy question "Do we all learn defeat/From the whores with bad feet?". I recommend this song for anyone who likes either old school System of a Down, crazy nonsensical songs, or listening to music while getting high.
10. She's Like Heroin
If "Stealing Society" only consisted of Daron Malakian's vocals, you would get "She's Like Heroin", System of a Down's attempt at trying to make a really scary track. And this band just don't do a good job at it. I find it really stupid that the scary subject of the song is visiting a haunted whore house to save a girl who decides to become a prostitute and when I read through the idiotic words of the song, I was thinking to myself "What is this crap?" ("She's like heroin/Sipping through a little glass/I'm looking for some help/I need someone to save her ass/Chinese tricks in rooms/With ghosts of hooker girlie dudes/Me and heroin maybe we can make some cash/Selling ass/Selling ass for heroin"). Daron's vocals are lame here and sound similar to his performance on "Old School Hollywood" and sometimes the word "ass" is said in such a raspy way that you can't stand it running through your head. Out of every track on Hypnotize, beware of this one. This is probably the worst System of a Down song in existance.
11. Lonely Day
This my friends is the second single that I've been talking about. You want proof that this is the second single? Go to the official web site of the band. They always play their most recent single whenever you go to the site. Anyway, "Lonely Day" is probably the most underrated song of the band's repetoire. Daron Malakian wrote this off as a joke song, but then Serj Tankian heard what was going on and told Daron that he liked it and it should be put on an album. "Lonely Day" was originally going to be the last song on Mezmerize, but it was cut off at the last minute and later became the second last song on Hypnotize. I thought that was a good move, because "Lost In Hollywood" was the better choice to finish Mezmerize with. Acoustic guitar plays in the verses, the rest of the band join in at the chorus, and there's a brilliant Hispanic sounding solo after the bridge. Daron does a good job carrying his voice in the song, but the only flaw is the very bland and grammatically incorrect lyrics ("Such a lonely day/And it's mine/The most loneliest day of my life/Such a lonely day/Should be banned/It's a day that I can't stand"). If System of a Down really wanted to show off Daron's vocal abilities to the mainstream audience, they should've made "Lost In Hollywood" the second single off Mezmerize instead of "Question!", but hey, "Lonely Day" is still a good pic for a second single, because it's a song almost anyone can relate to. The song ends the same way that "Soldier Side - Intro" on Mezmerize ends, which leads into...
12. Soldier Side
Forget every other song that System of a Down have ended an album with. This song knocks the rest right out of the ring. I thought this continuation of the intro on Mezmerize was also going to be acoustic, but when the electric guitar came in at the first second of the song, I was amazed. I knew the war theme abounded from what I heard from the intro, but the words in the song reach some religious themes along with "Tentative", "U-Fig", and "Holy Mountains" ("They were crying when their sons left/God is wearing black/He's gone so far to find no hope/He's never coming back /They were crying when their sons left/All young men must go/He's come so far to find the truth/He's never going home"). After yet another Middle Eastern guitar solo, what was sung in the intro gets sung to the electric guitar and the song ends the same way the intro ended before the bomb dropping effect. From where the song ends, you could play Mezmerize again and the double album set will feel like a continuous loop. Overall, I like the "Soldier Side - Intro"/"Soldier Side" concept of the double album and if it wasn't there, I would've given both albums much lower ratings.
Track By Track Rating:
01. Attack 
02. Dreaming [4.5]
03. Kill Rock 'N Roll [4.5]
04. Hypnotize 
05. Stealing Society 
06. Tentative 
07. U-Fig [3.5]
08. Holy Mountains [4.5]
09. Vicinity of Obscenity [4.5]
10. She's Like Heroin 
11. Lonely Day 
12. Soldier Side [4.5]
Content Rating: Clean (Except for "Stealing Society")