Mezmerize

Mezmerize

4.1 43
by System of a Down
     
 

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These Armenian-American agitators have, over the past several years, brought difficult listening further into the mainstream than practically any band in rock history. With this, the first of two discs to detonate this year, SOAD continue down that road, taking listeners on a ride dominated by more hairpin turns and sudden jolts than a day's worth of roller-coaster… See more details below

Overview

These Armenian-American agitators have, over the past several years, brought difficult listening further into the mainstream than practically any band in rock history. With this, the first of two discs to detonate this year, SOAD continue down that road, taking listeners on a ride dominated by more hairpin turns and sudden jolts than a day's worth of roller-coaster rides. The disc's lead single, "B.Y.O.B.," sets the tone both musically -- with its crazy-quilt mix of Balkan thrash and slinky disco -- and politically. Not surprisingly, Mezmerize is largely given over to screeds of social commentary in which songwriters Serj Tankian and Daron Malakian take on both the military-industrial complex, as on the feral "Cigaro," and the pop culture cult of personality -- hit most effectively on "Lost in Hollywood," which layers ethereal guitar lines with vocals straight out of a Byzantine church. SOAD set the experimentation bar plenty high with Toxicity, but manage to clear it with regularity here, particularly on the dizzyingly layered "This Cocaine Makes Me Feel Like I'm in This Song" and the purposefully ugly "Violent Pornography," which jerks along on waves of anguished guitar contortions. Packing 11 songs into 36 minutes, Mezmerize doesn't offer much in the way of a breather, but it's a stimulating and effective way to build up listening stamina.

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Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Johnny Loftus
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"?
Rolling Stone - David Fricke
1/2 Everything on Mezmerize hits and splits with viciously honed purpose.

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Product Details

Release Date:
05/17/2005
Label:
Sony
UPC:
0827969064825
catalogNumber:
90648
Rank:
2374

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