Sound — 10
After hearing Mezmerize (one of the best albums I have ever heard), I couldn't wait for Hypnotize. The hype was that it was going to be SOAD more chilled out, taking a softer approach. These accusations were rapidly thrown from my mind as Attack took over the stereo. After that comes Dreaming, an incredibly multi-tracked song, yet with one word I would call it genius. The middle section Daron takes over the lead vocals, which has been very controversial among SOAD fans. Some hate Daron's voice, some think he is great. I personally think his voice is very different, especially on this album, and when he and Serj join forces with vocals, their voices compliment eachothers perfectly, allowing a variation in sound yet very powerful vocals, and better yet, a new SOAD sound, lots of harmonising. Dreaming is no different, especially when talking about powerful vocals. Kill Rock 'N' Roll is not the greatest track on the album, but a very exhilirating song and a great middle section with great vocals from Serj in the background. Hypnotize is a great track, I would say the guitar lines are similar to that of Radio/Video on their previous album, and John's drumming is very solid, allowing a powerful rhythm section. Stealing society is a brilliant song, with a new style of vocals introduced by Daron, a sort of singing/Rapping style, with Serj providing backing vocals. Again this song contains a lot of harmonising and great singing. Tentative possibly being one of the best tracks on the album, almost bringing two different songs together, creating a great contrast. U-Fig is not the best track system have produced, but worthy of making the album, and the chorus providing a great opportunity to show some classic SOAD fun. I started off by hating Holy Mountains, but now I maintain it is one of the best songs system have done. Quite obviously about the Armenian genocide SOAD often protest about, the song does justice in making it an epic story. Viscinity of obscenity is pure brilliance. Again, SOAD bring out the fun with this song, making wah-funk the focus of this song and pull it off brilliantly. She's like heroine is again a fun song with crazy vocals from Daron, nifty guitar lines and cool drum beats. Lonely day provides an interesting blend of chords in the verse, with serj taking on a larger role with keyboard playing, and again backing vocals. Daron pulls off I think his first fast solo, finally showing off his talents on the guitar, yet is cleverly not used in a 'lets shred because we can' way. Although it must be said, the solo contains many effects like delay and small reverb, it is still pretty fast, and also melodic. The final track Soldier Side is one hell of an phenominal song. Many guitar tracks, incredible singing, booming bass and powerful drum lines make it an epic song. Plainly an anti-war song 'They were crying when their sons left, all young men must go, he's gone so far to find the truth, he's never going home' and also, the tail end of the album here is the beginning of the joint album Mezmerize, and the lyrics and guitar etc. are incredibly linked, so well together I cant explain in words how brilliant I think it is. Overall, the sound is very new SOAD, and reminds me of Steal this album in many ways, which I will talk about later. Darons singing, new guitar lines, new tunings, new drum appraoch all make a newer SOAD and if its even possible, a more incredible SOAD.
Lyrics — 10
SOAD's lyrics have always been to me something else. Many people will say SOADs lyrics aren't that impressive, yet I feel their mix of politics and fun is balanced perfectly to make them a great lyric writing band. The lyrics on this album are focused on politics on songs such as Soldier side, Tentative etc., and they have their fun with Kill Rock 'N' Roll, Viscinity of Obscenity etc. I think most of the lyrics on this album are great, some songs stronger than others, however I feel there are a couple of songs that are disappointing. This is because I feel they have tried to rhyme for the sake of rhyming (he wants nothing less, but to wear a little dress), rather than thoughtful or spiritual lyrics like the soad we know. As we all know, Daron has taken over a more central singing role, which has pleased and angered people. I think his input in this album makes it different to the rest and a new system, however I think Serj is the lead singer, and maybe Daron should take just a smaller role, and do the backing vocals more often whilst serj does the main lyrics. I remain confident in saying that Daron's singing is a choice made by the band, but I think he should just tone it down a little. As I said, he has a great voice, and goes very well with serj's, but maybe just tone it down a little. By the way, Daron Malakian is my idol, I idolise him in many ways, so I think my opinion is a fair one.
Overall Impression — 10
The best songs on the album for me are Stealing society, Soldier side, Holy mountains and Dreaming. The variation in these songs contributes to an amazing album and sound. I think in some ways SOAD have made their best album to date, some parts of the album I just think are generally great. I said I think it resembles Steal This Album. This is because Daron sings quite a bit on steal this album, the guitar lines become more tremelo, one string notes, the balance of lyrics is the same, and the general sound, to me, is very similar. Here are how I think the performances on the album are: Serj - obviously a phenominal singer, being able to scream, sing, sing high, sing low, write lyrics and write orchestra, piano and other music makes him totally essential to SOAD, obviously! His preformance on this album is possibly his best yet, with the introduction of more piano, great lyrics and brilliant vocals. Daron - a great guitar performance, possibly too much singing but his voice certainly is essential the the sound of this album. His lyrics possibly lack the power or originality of Serj's but he has done a good job overall, and its good to see the guitar with a bit more variation, and also a new tuning cant hurt, can it (Even though it is the same as Mezmerize, it's still new)? Shavo - unfortunately there is never really anything to majorly compliment the bass, as it is mainly just root not of the chord, and next to never an improvisation or no exploring the neck. However, the bass has a good, strong solid sound and gives SOAD the heavy feeling even though taking a more treble sound with the guitar. John - I stand by saying Jon Dolmayan is one of the best drummers in the world. In this album, his bass pedal and cymbal usage has decreased, moving away from all previous SOAD and allowing a very powerful, strong rhythm sound. Overall, I think SOAD are responsible for creating one of the best albums this decade has seen (along with their other albums). I think the change in sound for System is ideal as their old sound would not last much longer without it all being the same, so their change is definately for the best. I can't say I hate anything about this album, or even slightly dislike, partly because I love it to fucking much! If someone stole this album from me, I would cry very much, then pay as much as I needed to to buy it again. I would shoot or kill the thief, because 1. it is against SOAD's morals, and 2. listening to that album would make that crook a better person.