Sound — 10
'Hypnotize' is the second half of 'System Of A Down's' two-halved album, 'Mezmerize/Hypnotize'. System released 'Hypnotize' on the 22nd of November 2005. Between the albums, there are 23 tracks, (Mezmerize (11), Hypnotize (12)). The album, according to System, is meant to be one complete piece - hence the matching names, artwork and packaging. So, the musical history lesson (I'll keep it brief and as interesting as possible; ). System formed in 1995. They are a four piece Thrash/Metal/Nu Metal for America with Armenian origin - this explains Serj and Daron's (Lead and Backing Singers respectively) unique and of course superb vocal skills. Their first album was the self-titled 'System Of A Down' in 1998. The first 2 singles charted above the 200 spot, 'Suite-Pee' and 'Sugar'. From their first album alone it was clear that System were a clever four-piece who would thrive from their creativity and primeraly their originality. System's second album would produce 4 singles, an album #1 spot in the US and UK, and Billboard's Top Album of 2001. 'Toxicity' topped the US and UK charts. The four singles, 'Chop Suey', 'Toxicity', 'Psycho' and 'Aerials' were almost as successful all earning Top 40 spots in both the US and UK. 'Chop Suey' hit #2 in the UK, thrusting them immediatly onto the large scale scene in the UK. Toxicity remains to be one of the most popular albums of the last 5 years. During this album, Daron's voice was introduced, and System were shining with even more creativity and a lot of variety. Toxicity featured a fifth member, Arto, who played anything from his bare chest to a single drum. You can here his chanting in the interlude of 'Science'. 'Steal This Album' was the real gap between 'Toxicity' and 2005's 'Mezmerize'. All the songs were the remains of recording from the 'Toxicity' recording sessions. 'Innervision' and 'Fuck The System' were released from this 16 track album but not on a large scale. 'Steal This Album's' penultimate song, 'Roulette' really summed up a change in 'System Of A Down' and it shows an important message, a metal band can be as melodic as ANY other band and succeed in doing so. So, for 3 years nothing was heard from System. In 2004 the track 'Cigaro' was leaked purposely by the band - this was to be the 4th track from 'Mezmerize'. It was a unique and refreshing sound - the song featured such insane lyrics as 'My cock is much bigger than yours' and 'Cool, in denial, we're the cruel regulators smoking Cigaro, Cigaro, Cigar!' 'Mezmerize' was released in mid-2005. 'Mezmerize' was a completely new sound and no-one could deny the change System had gone through. Mezmerize hit #2 in the UK and really bought System onto the major rock scene. 'Mezmerize' bought back the very middle eastern feel that System are renowned for. 'Soldier Side' and 'Question' show this. The drum kit they record with also appears to give a very African sound, listen to the song 'Toxicity' for a perfect example. 'Radio Video' was the first single from the Mezmerize, followed by the hugely successful 'BYOB (Bring Your Own Bombs) arguably their best song up until the released of Hypnotize. 'Question' with a very middle eastern feel was the final single from 'Mezmerize'. Both BYOB and Question! were accompanied with videos although they did not get an awful lot of television airplay. And so to November and the release of the insane 'Hypnotize'.
Lyrics — 9
Serj (generally) tackles the heavier, harder, shoutier parts of System's songs, although during Hypnotize, Daron sings in harmony with Serj through almost the whole album, something we have watched change over the years considerably within System. Serj loves to tackle politics in his music, as we hear from endless amounts of songs, the titles give away the message - "War," "PLUCK," "Prison Song," "Deer Dance," "American Dream Disorder," "BYOB," "Cigaro," "Violent Pornography," "Sad Statue" are all strongly political. And from 'Hypnotize', "Attack," "Hypnotize," "Stealing Society," "Tentative," "Holy Mountain" and "Soldier Side" all have a political or war-related message. Daron is personally my favourite vocalist of all time and he is a huge asset to the band (as of course is Serj). Daron is also the guitarist in System Of A Down. His voice was barely existent during the first album, and since then he has become a more and more important part to the band. As Serj's voice has changed very little from the first album, and even from the demos as early as '96 (My opinion alone), Daron's has changed considerably, listening to the interlude to "Needles" from Toxicity and then the interlude to "Dreaming" on 'Hypnotize', I was truly astonished at the change. Daron has also tackled some aggressive vocal parts like Serj, most noticeably the screaming in "Attack" from 'Hypnotize', and the "Where the Fuck are you?" part from "B. Y. O. B", ('Mezmerize'). I must mention 'Lonely Day'. Hundreds of people will be as much as shocked at 'the poor lyrics' in Lonely Day, but the simplicity of the lyrics in 'Lonely Day' is intentional and is effective in my eyes. It hits home to anyone lonely with such simple lyrics. It helps to make the song ever more powerful. I am personally a little dissapointed with 'She's Like Heroin'. To get some amusement I would much rather listen to the end of 'Stealing Society'. Both songs are related to drugs, and Daron plays the most important part in both. but I am dissapointed at the singing in 'She's Like Heroin' and the continous repetition of the chorus at the end. This is something System will usually avoid. I'm not sure what happened here. I think the singing is too high even for Daron to handle at the end of 'She's Like Heroin'. It's still an awesome song, just by far the worst on the album.
Overall Impression — 10
As with most music, on first listening to this album, I was surprised and slightly dissapointed, I thought System had been too ambitious with 'Hypnotize', but I was wrong. Throughout the album they return to their classic characteristics -and take them to extremes in many places. I will take this track by track to give a general overview of the album. 01. Attack - this first song seems to sum up everything that System Of A Down is, even in the first 30 seconds. "Attack" rises and falls between fast, heavy, thrash-classic riffs. Within 20 seconds tones down, 'Breathing, each others lives. Holding, this in mind'. As an opening song to the album this is superb. 02. Dreaming - one of System's best songs ever in my opinion. "Dreaming" races between complexity, with 3 layers of vocals at several points, to pure simplicity with one guitar. Daron's singing is absolutely insane in this song. System Of A Down making this the next single would be justified for this outstanding song. I would buy the album JUST for this song! 03. Kill Rock N' Roll - anyone who had heard the agressive live version of this song would think the album version is a half-hearted effort. The toning down is clearly intentional, but this song deserves to be agressive. Yes, it is different and experimental but I just don't think it is effective. I will occasionaly skip this song. I rarely do that with a System album. 04. Hypnotize - I heard this first on System's website on the week before it's release as the first single from 'Hypnotize'. Since then, I have grown bored of this song. At first it was my favourite System song of all time, it certainly has an outstanding chorus, but something about this song doesn't excite anymore. 05. Stealing Society - this song is under 3 minutes long, but you could almost seperate it into 2 parts, Serj tackles the first half, Daron the second half. As per usual I prefer Daron's part. Throughout the first one and a half minutes Serj repeats "Two suns, watching it all fading" and varies the lyrics each time. Then Daron suddenly breaks into semi-rap, this is one of the best parts of the album. Absolutely superb. The song concludes with the words "Lookin' for a mother that will get me high, Just a stupid motherfucker if I die, I, I". This song is insanely good. 06. Tentative - another outstanding song, again varying considerably throughout in 'aggressiveness'. This song stands out as very moving and 'war-related', however a slight letdown, this song sounds incredibly similar to 'Dreaming' especially the almost identical chorus melody and pace. However, a very good listen despite. 07. U-Fig - this is the probably the only song on the album that could compete with 'Dreaming' as the best song on the album. It is very agressive from start to finish with the exception of a really, really, really unusual guitar solo in the interlude, followed the agressive chorus line, this is the most ingenious and innovative piece of music System have ever written in my opinion! 08. Holy Mountain - a very eerie song, which reminds me an awful lot of 'Aerials' from Toxicity, especially the guitar style at the start, (as a guitarist, I can say it is actually almost identical and involves the same notes). This is an outstanding song that, I believe is about the Armenian Genocide, it's an incredibly powerful song, again with quite an eastern feel. 09. Vicinity Of Obscenity - you may be shocked that I have only given an 6 for this song if you have heard it. I find it does get boring, I find it seems to meaningless and insane for even me to handle (trust me, I'm insane). Then again, rather like 'Chop Suey' I would probably appreciate this song more if I knew what It meant. Lyrics from this stupid song include screaming "Liar" endlessly, and Serj chanting "Banana, Banana, Terracotta Pie?" 10. She's Like Heroin - tracks 9, 10 and 11 are the only slight letdowns for me. I don't like this song because of the overtly repetitive chorus. It's needs a remix and some fresh lyrics at the end. System usually manage to avoid tedious repetition in their songs but failed this time unfortunately. Daron doesn't seem to quite handle the high singing in this song in my opinion. 11. Lonely Day - this is the most melodic System song yet, along with the superb "Roulette" from 'Steal This Album!' In this song Daron sings of his own emotions through simple lyrics that may hit home for many people. This slightly moving song isn't brilliant but is a refreshing maturity for System. Maybe they delibrately placed this after 'She's Like Heroin' to emphasise this? This song does create a good buildup to Soldier Side, the final song and the most moving. 12. Soldier Side - this song has bought a tear to the eye of anyone I know who has listened to it closely. Here's some of the lyrics "Dead men lying on the bottom of their graves, Wondering when saviour comes, When are they gonna be saved?" "They were crying when their sons left, All young men must go, God's gone so far to find the truth he's never going home" I was simply stunned at the final song of the album, I couldn't help but wonder how a terrorist or militant would react to this song. Soldier Side, along with U-Fig and Dreaming, contends as the best song on the album, as with 'Mesmerize', "Lost In Hollywood" was my personal favourite. If I lost my copy of 'Hypnotize' I would definetly go to the effort of getting a new copy. I have the Dualdisc 'Mezmerize/Hypnotize', and if I lost the whole package, and only had 10 quid, I would most definetly buy 'Hypnotize'. It is The best album of all time.