Sound — 10
SOAD has always had a very unique sound, which for a long time has been wrongly classified as nu-metal. I understand that nu-metal covers a large spectrum of music - most of which happens to be horrible and whiny, in truth. But System Of A Down's soundscapes have become too complex and unusual to fit into that category. This album takes their style to a whole new level, on which the instruments are handled with much more care than previously, and there's more detail in the various layers of it. Not to say they've gone prog. or taken some odd Emperor-ish route; they've just evolved into a more "complete" band, sound-wise. The guitaring especially has improved drastically from the previous albums, and it actually sounds like Daron is a pretty good player on this one, whereas he could've been replaced by anyone on the other ones. I could do without so much of his voice - it doesn't hurt much on the album, but everybody can see that Serj is the most talented of the two, and on every live recording I've come by he's failed to hit the correct note.
Lyrics — 10
Odd and political as usually. They're not the most eloquent users of the English language, and though their lyrics seem to have matured more since previous releases, they're still not as "sophisticated" as, say, Tool. However, this is the way it works for SOAD, and the metaphors, words and themes are all worth a listen in spite o' all that. I'd even go as far as to say they're excellent when it comes to lyrics, just as Serj is when it comes to singing. Daron is far from a grade-A vocalist, but he's pretty good on this album, and his presence multiplies the amount of weird images the listener should get in his mind.
Overall Impression — 10
If it were "losted"? Wtf? Definitely worth a buy. Well-written, played and sung, and just overall entertaining. A little short, but with top-notch quality. "This Cocaine Makes Me Feel Like I'm On This Song" is worth a mention; not because of it's unparalelled greatness, but rather because of the energetic outburst it unleashes in only 2 minutes and 8 seconds. Serj sounds very Mike Patton-ish on it, which gives a definite thumbs up. However, first single "Byob" is probably the standout of the album, incorporating impressive tempo-changes, twin-vocal utilization, a fun chorus, some unusual screaming stuff by Daron, and a cool sarcastic lyrical side. The album doesn't have anything offensive though, and generally keeps a standard that fellow mislabelled noisemakers Mudvayne weren't able to keep on their newest release. It's also better than Naglfar's new CD, but that's a different story.