Sound — 9
I don't know if it's a widely common preference or if I get it from having choir shoved down my throat since first grade, but the harmonies that Serj and Daron do on both Mezmerize and Hypnotize are amazing. I found it brings something new to the song every time, even after listening to it to an annoying point. System Of A Down took a different turn with Mesmerize and Hypnotize, not making it as "metal" as it was before. It might just be because I heard these albums before their previous ones, but I think I prefer their newer style. Especially for Hypnotize. They have an amazing overall sound, but the only overall complaint that I would have is possibly Serj's diction in a lot of the songs. This does not apply to every one of his songs, but Tentative, for example, is much harder to understand in the verses. Very nice song, but hard to understand. Daron's parts are a bit easier to understand, but Tentative as a whole seems to just be hard to understand without looking in the lyric book. Their lyrics are in a class all their own, but it really would be a lot better for the individual songs if they made certain parts more coherent.
Lyrics — 10
System Of A Down is famous for the obscure lyrics and even after years of their music being a satire about world events, people still don't get it. Take Lonely Day for example. A direct quote from the song is The most loneliest day of my life. Far too often is it misconstrued as an emo song for this reason. If I were in the band, I'd almost consider it an insult if it didn't make the person who made the accusation of being it being emo look like an idiot. Most Loneliest. Think about it. That's a redundant form of wording that we are supposed to overcome in kindergarten. System wouldn't suddenly go emo with these sorts of lyrics. It's mocking emo and basic song structure. Not many see it as such. This is common in a lot of songs. Vicinity of Obscenity is another good example. I'm not sure if there's any right meaning to this song, but from what I've seen, the lyrics seem to basically say that prostitution is pretty much earning certain individuals money and degrading those who purchase them. That was my own general impression, anyway. I've heard similar theories. Their lyrics all attempt to satire some form of world crisis today. Soldier Side, Tentative, and Dreaming have amazing takes on the war and how it affects people today. They have a lot of random references, some that maybe have some private meaning between the band, but if thought about long enough, you can find the deeper meaning in their lyrics.
Overall Impression — 9
I think System is a pretty good medium between rock and metal at this point. Sure, they'll always have Serj randomly doing his metal growl in songs where appropriate, but they also took a turn to a new genre and I think were pretty successful. Daron's lyrics will always stand out as some of my favorite pieces of music material. The same is true of Serj's voice. These coupled with the harmonies make for an amazing sound, but most of the issues with this band just happen to be they can be hard to understand. This goes for diction wise as well as lyrical wise. Once this band has you addicted, and you probably will be if you listen to any one song enough times, you can get past the little nitpicks and look at the bigger picture. I'm definitely getting their next album when it comes out, if, or hopefully when, that happens.