CD review: Mezmerize – System of a Down

Stuff.co.nz, New Zealand
May 29 2005

CD review: Mezmerize – System of a Down
30 May 2005
By CHRIS SCHULZ

****
You can always count on System of a Down to be different. The
Armenian-American metal quartet threw out the rulebook with their
multi-million selling album Toxicity, then, just as they were set to
stride into the big league, released a stop-gap B-sides album and
went into hiding.

They came out of their cave to play the Big Day Out this year, but
defied belief with a bizarre performance that included vocoders,
between-song tirades against George W. Bush, a handful of new songs
and a Dire Straits cover. It was patchy and, at times,
incomprehensible.

Now, just to be difficult, System are releasing two albums. The first
of these, the Rick Rubin-produced Mezmerize, goes some way towards
explaining that BDO performance, thanks to its scatterbrain
mentality.

Featuring frenzied guitar riffs, brutal heavy metal outbursts, and
hyperactive rants against war, Hollywood and, er, Tony Danza, it is
at once brilliant and absurd. Take, for example, first single
B.Y.O.B, an acid-fuelled version of Toxicity’s Chop Suey! complete
with a Backstreet Boys chorus. You’ll be singing along in no time.

Equally mind-bending is Cigaro’s opening line which will ensure it
will never be played on mainstream radio, and the nonsensical Violent
Pornography. But the madness is balanced out with moments of pure
beauty, like the truly affecting closing ballad Lost In Hollywood.

So expect Mezmerize to take a few listens to sink in, but once it
does prepare to be blown away. System of a Down have once again
raised the bar for a genre seemingly bereft of ideas. The companion,
Hypnotize, expected by the end of the year, will have plenty of work
to do to keep up this pace.

Mezmerize is out now through Columbia Records/Sony.

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