System of a Down
Hypnotize


4.0
excellent

Review

by Pedro B. USER (316 Reviews)
May 14th, 2010 | 19 replies


Release Date: 2005 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Welcome to the Serious Side.

By the time they released the Mesmerize/Hypnotize combo in the late 2000’s, System Of A Down had long shed the mantle of “just another bunch of new metallers” and affirmed themselves as a valid band with very valid musical ideas. With two revered albums behind their back, as well as an admittedly bare-bones collection of B-Sides and Rarities, the band were established players in the genre, and the conceptually-driven duo of albums only increased their popularity among the thinking metal masses.

More importantly, however, Hypnotize was the album that finally broke my long-standing resistance to System Of A Down. For almost tem years, since the group’s millenial debut album, I had viewed SOAD’s music as weird for weird’s sake, and could not understand the Tool-level worship going on around the group, from fans and press alike. True, Spiders was awesome, but precious little else managed to excite or interest me. All that change the first time I gave Hypnotize a listen, in the record store, before buying it. From that moment on, I was on the SOAD train, for better or for worse.

Billed as a more serious counterpart to the playful Mesmerize, listening to Hypnotize can be compared to reading a really good spy novel, one by, say, Robert Ludlum: while there may be slightly duller descriptive passages, most of the time you’re hanging at every turn, waiting to see which twist is going to be thrown at you next. This album is no different, springing a new surprise around every corner, and most of them genuinely enthralling.

Take, for example, the very beginning of the album: as if to state their definitive separation from nu-metal, Attack starts with…a blastbeat. To be sure, it quickly descends into a calm, sung passage from Serj Tankian, but it plants extreme-metal roots which the group does not hesitate to explore in the following songs. In fact, the basis for the music here is closer to thrash metal than the downtuned alt-metal of yore, but just like before, that basic batter is then peppered with every possible ingredient imaginable. Armenian and Middle Eastern influences, while seriously diluted in relation to the past, remain there, not afraid to surface in songs such as She’s Like Heroin or the title track. Elsewhere, there are touches of straight-up rock’n’roll, jazz, folk, and even a direct citation to the acoustic guitar on House Of The Rising Sun (listen to Lonely Day,compare and contrast). The result is a melting pot as tasty as any Mr. Bungle ever had to offer.

To top it all off, most of the songs are of incredibly high quality. Sure, there’s the occasional duller moment (Kill Rock’n’Roll, Lonely Day), but very few of the songs fail to have at least one noteworthy detail, be it a purposefully silly lyric or an unexpected musical style blended into the mix. And, of course, the standouts here side with the best the genre(s) have to offer. Standing tallest among them is the unbelievable Tentative, certainly one of the most purely beautiful songs I’ve ever heard from a metal group, arguably from any group. Tankian’s plaintive intoning of ”where do you expect us to go when the bombs fall”, backed by female vocals and sorrowful, acoustic-driven music, is genuinely moving, and reminds us of why we like good music so much. This melancholy atmosphere is carried over onto the next track, U-Fig, which despite not working as well as its predecessor is a damn good song in its own right.

On the other side of the spectrum are the other two standouts. SOAD admitted that, just like Mesmerize had had a few “serious” songs strewn in, so had a few more playful songs seeped into Hypnotize. That statement justifies Tankian’s manic recitation of ”banana, banana, banana, terracotta, banana, terracotta, terracotta pie” before launching into semi-coherent shrieks (on Vicinity of Obscenity), or a song based around the phrase ”selling ass for heroin” which not only works, but is also a standout.

Still, this lighter, sillier side serves merely as a respite from an otherwise charged album (both lyrically and musically), pervaded most of the time by a strong, potentially dating anti-war sentiment, with many of the songs focusing on the victims of warfare, be they military or civilian. Yet, when taken out of the Bush-Iraq context, the lyrics are just universal enough to amount to more than just period pieces, instead complementing the also interesting musical side. By the time the album closes with the haunting Soldier Side – which also opened Mesmerize, bringing the two-piece set full circle – one has been enchanted, moved, amused, touched and entertained, barely noticing that 40 minutes have elapsed in the process. Not all of this album is top-notch, but a considerable amount of it is, making it commendable to all those who like to be surprised by their music and don’t mind a touch of schizophrenia in their rock’n’roll.

Recommended Tracks
Tentative
Vicinity Of Obscenity
She’s Like Heroin



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user ratings (4073)
3.5
great
other reviews of this album
1 of


Comments:Add a Comment 
Counterfeit
May 14th 2010


17837 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Beat the meat, treat the feet.

Prolapse
May 14th 2010


4374 Comments


Great review!

LepreCon
May 14th 2010


5471 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Great review as always, RtR

SowingSeason
Moderator
May 14th 2010


35813 Comments


didnt think this was as good as their other stuff, but a good review nonetheless

Digging: Deftones - Ohms

Poet
May 14th 2010


6083 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

review lacking Holy Mountains =(

XulOnerom
May 14th 2010


1818 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

For almost tem years, since the group’s millenial debut album




Other than that little mistake, great job. Pos'ed

fr33convict
May 14th 2010


11723 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Kill Rock N' Roll was one of my favorites and She's Like Heroin was my least favorite track.

Oh well, good review anyway.

vanderb0b
May 14th 2010


3473 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Great review, man. This is the only SOAD album I dislike.

maidenpmcc
May 14th 2010


1459 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

This is a good album but not as good as Mezmerize, no way.



Good review.

renegadestrings
May 14th 2010


1530 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

good review. i never understood why people disliked this album... i completely agree with the fact that it keeps you entertained all the way

maidenpmcc
May 14th 2010


1459 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Mezmerize just seems to be that bit better.

Ire
May 15th 2010


41945 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

album is kind of awful.

Ire
May 15th 2010


41945 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

I really couldn't read past the first paragraph.



By the time they released the Mesmerize/Hypnotize combo in the late 2000’s,




mid



System Of A Down had long shed the mantle of “just another bunch of new metallers”




They pretty much did the opposite with these dull albums.



the band were established players in the genre




A bit vague.

TRMshadow
May 15th 2010


4987 Comments


Nice review. Pos'd

I don't see why this album always gets so much hate, Hypnotize>Mezmerize IMO

Greggers
May 15th 2010


2375 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Great review; album gets way too much hate IMO.

Crymsonblaze
May 15th 2010


8232 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

The two you listed as dull are the only two I like on this album. Easily their worst.

Yazz_Flute
May 15th 2010


18964 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Holy Mountains is easily the best song.



Also She's Like Heroin sucks.

Digging: Caligula's Horse - Rise Radiant

Counterfeit
May 15th 2010


17837 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I love this album. It's a nice blend between their more serious songs and fun light hearted tunes.



Also, love She's Like Heroin.

O.J. Simpson
May 15th 2010


408 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

oh hey there aren't like 15 other reviews of this awesome. and 4 other 4 reviews.



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