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Thread: Featured CD - System Of A Down : Hypnotize / Mezmerise

  1. #1
    Moderator Duncan Glenday's Avatar
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    Featured CD - System Of A Down : Hypnotize / Mezmerise



    The twin albums (not quite a double-CD)

    Progressive? Not? I think they are...

    Per Allmusic:
    Mezmerize :

    Adjectives like "ambitious," "jagged," and "startling" have always defined System of a Down, and their third official full-length is no different. Prerelease, the band described Mezmerize as being the first part -- the first side -- of what's essentially a double album. The records' packaging would even slot together, making the eventual Mezmerize/Hypnotize whole. Appropriately then, there's an intro to System's first new material since 2001's brilliant Toxicity. On "Soldier Side" Daron Malakian and Serj Tankian harmonize as they do throughout the record, and Malakian's guitar has a mournful, Eastern air. But it's just a lull before "B.Y.O.B.," a thrash assault pierced with rabid and incredulous screams. "Why do they always send the poor?" Suddenly the gears switch, and the song stomps in crunchy half-time as its lyrics riff with a sick grin on cultural ignorance. The government's lying, System's saying, but "Blast off!/It's party time." The vocal exploration between Tankian and Malakian on Mezmerize is a thrill -- they spur each other on like a two-headed hardcore hero. Their intermingling voices make "Cigaro" more aggressive, frantic, operatic, and totally bananas; they'd be triumphant over the break in "Violent Pornography" if they weren't spitting out lines like "Choking chicks and sodomy." The fantastic "Pornography" is a rusty shiv of absurdity, another example of System's ability to effectively skewer society with little more than hyper guitar, blistering percussion, and weird turns of phrase. Their volatile mix of righteousness, wordiness, odd meters, and thrash has balanced System's activism since their self-titled debut, making them "unique heavy music" over the much more problematic "unique, heavily political music." And Mezmerize doesn't fail to be unique. "Old School Hollywood" essays the bizarre experience of a celebrity baseball game ("Tony Danza cuts in line!") over keyboard effects from "Beat It" and a brutally simplistic rhythm, "This Cocaine Makes Me Feel Like I'm on This Song" is more twisted-tongue histrionics and explosive playing, and Tankian and Malakian's harmonies are the catalyst (again!) for making "Revenga" a truly feral epic. System of a Down -- what's another adjective for "awesome"?

    Hypnotize :

    It wasn't a lie when System of a Down said the packaging for Mezmerize and Hypnotize would slot together. Released in November 2005, roughly six months after its counterpart, Hypnotize does indeed feature a tri-fold design. But the extra cardboard slotting's a little extraneous, as are some of the sonic parts on both albums. Truth is the motor for System's spazzy, modernist thrash. It drives the boiling rage in Hypnotize's "Attack," "Stealing Society," and "U-Fig"; on "Holy Mountain," it inspires SOAD to transform the sad facts of genocide into the album's most vicious, powerful, and arresting moment. Of course, truth also drives SOAD to make passionate, if slightly screwy, decisions: Serj Tankian's ADD sputter of "eat 'em eat 'em eat 'em eat 'em" and "banana banana banana terracotta" on Hypnotize; Mezmerize's detour into celebrity baseball game outtakes on "Old School Hollywood." These moments are head-scratchers, no doubt, but they're integral to the experience -- System of a Down confound and irritate even as they rock. And it's precisely because of that weird aggression/aggravation dynamic that Mezmerize/Hypnotize is as strong a concept/double album as metal can offer in 2005.
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    Member Phlakaton's Avatar
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    They opened for Primus on a tour I saw in Las Vegas... these guys were terrible. Not sure what happened... the studio must be their friend. I saw an article in Rolling Stone comparing them to Zappa. Ok then. Rolling Stone... silly rag.

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    Member zravkapt's Avatar
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    Too bad they haven't released anything since. If they kept going in that direction they would probably be considered 'prog metal' right now.
    The truth will set you free, but first it will piss you off

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    Member Just Eric's Avatar
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    I've seen them three times, twice in arena, where they aren't so hot, and once in a smaller club where they absolutely tore the roof off the place. I love these albums and definitely classify them as Prog (ish). Most of the material they've released since, either Serj solo or other members' Scars on Broadway, are not nearly as creative as the SOAD material.

    I highly recommend SOAD for anyone looking for interesting take on Punk/Metal.
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  5. #5
    I liked them more right when they came out, but I still like these albums (even if some of the songs now sound goofier and somewhat more cheesey than they did then). And although I'd always welcome more good music by any band, I don't think this was a bad place for them to call it quits. Their trajectory had been moving ever more into the mainstream, and this is about as mainstream as I'd want this band. Yet they couldn't stay loud and angry, because the bar keeps getting raised - if you're going to *stay* loud and angry, you need to keep having better reasons for doing so, or or eventually it sounds cliched and phoned-in; you can only write "Attack," once and probably credibly rip it off only once more before it just sounds silly.

  6. #6
    Insect Overlord Progatron's Avatar
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    Some nice riffs here and there and an interesting approach, but I absolutely cannot stand those melodramatic, "everything in life is terrible and I cannot be consoled" harmonies. They come across to me as whiny teenagers in grown men's bodies. And when they aren't doing that, they're doing ridiculous songs about pogo sticks and the pepperoni pizza in their fridge. I may be a tad biased against them though, since a co-worker played them over and over and over again, for YEARS.

    They weren't all bad though. I like the song "Toxicity" a lot, and the main singer was good, but that guitarist's third-rate vocals ruin them for me.
    www.velvetthunder.co.uk - From the ashes of the Classic Rock Society rises Velvet Thunder!

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    Member zravkapt's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Progatron View Post
    I may be a tad biased against them though, since a co-worker played them over and over and over again, for YEARS.
    To be completely honest, as much as I like them and respect them I have no interest in listening to them again in the near future; friends played their CDs so much it was complete overkill.
    The truth will set you free, but first it will piss you off

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    Subterranean Tapir Hobo Chang Ba's Avatar
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    Surprised to see this here.

    I much prefer their first two, and don't really listen to these two anymore.
    No humor please, we're skittish.

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    Quote Originally Posted by zravkapt View Post
    Too bad they haven't released anything since. If they kept going in that direction they would probably be considered 'prog metal' right now.
    I read an interview with Serj Tankian at the time 'Mesmerize' was released (I can't recall which magazine it was, it might have been Classic Rock magazine) and he said System of a Down's music could be described as "progressive pop".

    Regarding the albums, I liked the first 'Mesmerize' very much but didn't care for the second that much. Their previous 'Toxicity' was a fantastic record, imho. For some reason, I always thought that what they do isn't that far removed to what Pain of Salvation does, but that's just me.

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    Member Just Eric's Avatar
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    A few of my favorites:


    30 million views!!!

    This video was my introduction to them and it still rocks!

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    I like about half of both of these albums. If you took the best tracks from both it would have made one great one, but as it is they are very up and down to my ears. I don’t have anything else by this band so can’t really compare this album to others. One say I will say is these guys are certainly unique. I don’t like everything they do, but no one else sounds like them.

    Steve Sly

  12. #12
    Member Joe F.'s Avatar
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    I love both of these albums (which is in fact one double album released 6 or so months apart due to them thinking that their listening public couldn't handle this much music at one time).

    For me this is their peak. I'll be in the minority and say that I prefer Daron's vocals over Serj. High energy, musical, goofy...

    I'd like to see them try and top it someday.

    YMMV.
    Last edited by Joe F.; 11-27-2013 at 11:03 PM.

  13. #13
    "Bun-ina bun-ina bun-ina terra-cotta / bun-ina terra-cotta terra-cotta pie!"

    "Selling ass for heroin!"

    I had a fantasy where I performed the "Terra Cotta Pie" song on a show like American Idol...just go out there and whip it out perfectly, the band being forced to kick ass on the music. Imagine the jaws dropping! Fun stuff

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Werbinox View Post
    "Bun-ina bun-ina bun-ina terra-cotta / bun-ina terra-cotta terra-cotta pie!"

    "Selling ass for heroin!"

    I had a fantasy where I performed the "Terra Cotta Pie" song on a show like American Idol...just go out there and whip it out perfectly, the band being forced to kick ass on the music. Imagine the jaws dropping! Fun stuff
    Dude, I would pay big money to see that........and you of all people could pull it off!

  15. #15
    Oh No! Bass Solo! klothos's Avatar
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    System of a Down "Toxicity", to me, is "If Zappa played Modern Metal"

    I really do like them but I reside where zravkapt is: My peers wore me out/ buddy overkill

  16. #16
    Kristi
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    Quote Originally Posted by Phlakaton View Post
    They opened for Primus on a tour I saw in Las Vegas... these guys were terrible. Not sure what happened... the studio must be their friend. I saw an article in Rolling Stone comparing them to Zappa. Ok then. Rolling Stone... silly rag.
    I saw them in an arena last summer and they were great. I was not sure what to expect to be honest and it was a very upbeat, positive show. They played well and an excellent set of songs. I know bands can have off nights and even the best of them can either kick ass or tank. Glad I saw a good show.

    As for these albums. Prog? Eh, maybe. I consider them more of a guilty pleasure, although I can't seem to listen to them as much lately- when any of these songs come up on my ipod I tend to skip them. I do like that they can be serious and have fun, and not take themselves too seriously. If that makes sense.

  17. #17
    Member mnprogger's Avatar
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    Tony Danza cuts in line....



    Mesmerize is my favorite/I feel their best. Hypnotize, not so much. Would love to see them record something new, as Serj's solo stuff is a bit too overtly political.

    They also should do a tour with Faith No More.

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