Sound — 9
System Of A Down have made another very cool album, and a concept album at that! This is the first part of a double-album concept that takes System Of A Down into progressive-thinking territory. They continue to bridge the gap between metal and nu-metal, and manage to do it in an entertaining and different way. This album is a change of pace for them, with slow, melodic bridges and interludes that are reminicent of eastern-European ballad-type music. But don't be fooled, they still have that grinding metal edge to lots of their songs that old-school System fans will rejoice over. All in all, this new sound seems to suit System very well, which might come as a shock to some anti-metalheads out there.
Lyrics — 10
Serj Tankian generally writes good, meaningful songs. He is known for his politically-involved lyrics as well as his hillarious vocal bag of tricks. On many songs on this album, he demonstrates his range by following drop Db guitar lines note-by-note with his voice. An impressive feat, since Db below low C is a note out of reach for many singers in today's generally unskilled music industry. He also makes the listener laugh quite a bit with his strange voicings and actually quite challenging sound effects on some tracks.
Overall Impression — 9
This is definitely a good album by any standards, as well as one of System's best. It's nice to see some bands nowadays aren't afraid to change their sound a little, lest they lose a hardcore fan base. All the songs are good, and they've really made an effort to make all the songs different. It's not one of those CD's where a listener can get lost in track numbers. You always know once you've changed songs. If lost, I would for sure buy this album again. It's really cool, and I look forward to the second part of this dual-release.