Newest Review: ... It's a track that has Daron on lead vocals and Serj backing, with both duetting the chorus. It's hard to imagine what the song is abou... more
Hypnotize the System
Hypnotize - System of a Down
Member Name: Jarisleif
Hypnotize - System of a Down
Advantages: Wonderful song writing
"Hypnotize" is the 5th studio album by US heavy metal band, System of a Down. It was released in 2005 on American Recordings and produced by Rick Rubin & Daron Malakian. The line-up for the album was Serj Tankian (vocals), Daron Malakian (guitar/vocals), Shavo Odadjian (bass) and John Dolmayan (drums).
The album comes six months after System of a Down released "Mezmerize" and was an instant success, reaching No.1 on the US Billboard Top 200. However, this album also comes with a down side in that it was the last album the band made before going on hiatus in 2006. Although written around the same time, "Mezmerize" and "Hypnotize" sound different from each other. They both have similar song structure but once you're read this review, hopefully you'll know what I mean.
"Attack" gets the album off to an energetic start with a political song about war. It's basically telling us how governments are always starting wars against their own people or super power countries begin wars in the name of oil, for example. It's a very heavy song at the beginning which moves into a quieter pre-verse before the heavy guitars return. For the thrash metal fan, there's plenty to keep you listening and fans of System of a Down in particular will love this song.
Serj's singing is on excellent form with "Dreaming", but it's the almost operatic arrangement between the vocalist and Daron that seals the deal for me. If an early classical music artist did heavy metal, this song is what they'd strive to come up with. It's a song that deals with the little things in life we take for granted which most impoverished people would do anything to have, like clean water and three meals a day.
"Kill Rock 'n Roll" is a catchy song with a great chorus that's guaranteed to have you singing along. It's a track that has Daron on lead vocals and Serj backing, with both duetting the chorus. It's hard to imagine what the song is about because System of a Down has a habit of changing things around in their lyrics, but I think it could be a dig at radio stations that refuse to play real music these days; instead opting to churn out manufactured rubbish hour after hour.
"Hypnotize" is the title track and it's a poignantly political song which deals with the differences between waiting for something to happen and actually doing something about it to make it happen. The first line of the song is in reference to Tiananmen Square in China where students protested against the government while the rest of the world watched as an unknown amount of people were massacred. It's a slower song but has some great vocal harmonies on it with a bridge of Middle Eastern influences.
"Stealing Society" takes us back to the heavier roots of System of a Down with some heavy riffs and intense drumming. The mainstay of the lyrics focuses on the issue of drugs and the strange effects you can get from taking them as well as how they can ruin your life. The narrator is on a one-man crusade to do as many drugs as he can and if he dies, he dies. I like the interaction in part of this song with Daron singing and Serj doing vocal scales in the background.
"Tentative" is one of the best songs on the album and that's due to the perfect delivery of Serj's vocals. I've always been a fan of his singing but it's on this song where he really shines, and the lyrics are just stunning. It's written from a political view of wars - specifically the war in Iraq - and it's told from the eyes of the Iraqi people. When Serj sings the line "Where do you expect us to go when the bombs fall?" it cannot fail to tug at the heartstrings and it's that one line that makes you wonder if it was all worth it.
I don't condone drug use in any way but I have to say without them, you wouldn't have a lot of really good songs that artists have written over the years. I refer to artists such as the Doors, Jefferson Airplane, Jimi Hendrix and even the Beatles. Then along comes System of a Down to write "U-Fig". It's a furious song with the catchiest insane lyrics I think I've ever heard. It does have its serious side, though, as it's really about so-called patriotism and that people are happy to wave flags but if they're asked to fight, they'll shun it as a bad idea. U-Fig = You Flag-waving Ignorant Geek.
"Holy Mountains" is the best song on the album for me, and quite possibly one of the best songs the band has ever written and recorded. It has tones of "Aerials" off of the band's 2001 album "Toxicity" and is just as epic with some really good guitar work and vocal harmonies. It's a song about Mount Araat between Armenia and Turkey and the people that have died fighting over them. There is some orchestral parts in the song on the chorus and it's arranged beautifully.
"Vicinity of Obscenity" is another tongue-in-cheek song which is this time about sex. I'll not bore you with the details but I'm sure you can figure it out with the line "Banana banana banana banana terracotta banana terracotta terracotta pie". I love this song because System of a Down seem to make silly lyrics sound so good, and the guitar playing is also very heavy.
"She's Like Heroin" is a song about a girl who feels she has no alternative but to turn to prostitution to feed her drug habit. The narrator is trying to help her and wants others to help, but in the end he gives in and ends up doing the same thing because he's now addicted to heroin. It's a strange song with odd progression but it completely works as a System of a Down song. I don't think any other band could pull it off like these guys do, which is what makes it unique.
"Lonely Day" is the slowest song on the album but one that's very heart-felt with its lyrics. Daron sings it really well with Serj backing up on the chorus, but it's definitely Daron's song. I don't think it's personal, but I do think it's something to do with war. The narrator is a soldier who's been left out in the battlefield, hoping for someone to come along and save him and his comrade whose life is hanging in the balance. In the end he says that if his comrade dies, he wants to die with him.
"Soldier Side" ends the "Mezmerize / Hypnotize" connection as it began but this time you get the full version of the song instead of the intro that began it all. It's a song about all aspects of war, ranging from the parents of soldiers waving their sons off to war, knowing that they're never coming back home, to the soldier himself stood on the field of battle just waiting for the bullet that will kill him. The chorus is absolutely stunning and a very poignant reminder that war is hell.
In summary, this is one of the best albums I've ever heard. It's brilliantly written and wonderfully arranged in an almost classical composition with an uncanny mix of heaviness and soft playing. System of a Down was at their best here and shortly afterwards the band went on hiatus which lasted until 2010 when they played a few shows. At the time of writing there were no plans for the band to record a new album but I live in hope that this will one day happen, and definitely hope to see them live again.
3. Kill Rock 'n Roll
5. Stealing Society
8. Holy Mountains
9. Vicinity of Obscenity
10. She's Like Heroin
11. Lonely Day
12. Soldier Side
My rating: 9/10
Summary: The end of System of a Down... for now.