By Bob Nalbandian


Hypnotize, the follow-up to last year's Mesmerize, has been out for a few months now and I've given this CD several spins in hopes that it will grow on me after every listen, but truthfully it has not. You probably know by now that I am a huge fan of System Of A Down and consider them to be the most talented and original new metal band of the millennium but I just don't feel the same impact off this album as I did from their previous releases. I wouldn't go as far as saying it's a disappointment by any means...there are certainly some magical moments on this disc...but I honestly feel that the System was empowered by the corporate label in their attempts to capitalize on a separately released double-disc. The tracks from both Mesmerized and Hypnotized were taken from the same recording session and guitarist/co-producer Daron Malakian had the grueling task of deciding which tracks would appear on each disc. I feel that this second installment contains more or less the "B-side" tracks whereas the songs on Mesmerize were much more potent and dynamic. Perhaps I would have been more satisfied if this album was labeled as such as was their brilliant Steal This Album disc which contained leftover tracks from the Toxicity sessions - tracks that I felt were far more effective and captivating than the songs on this current release. Although I can relate to the point the band makes justifying the release of Hypnotize six months after its counterpart, claiming that most record-buying fans find it difficult to consume 20+ songs all at once and by separating the discs it would hopefully give the fans a chance to better indulge in each album. But personally, I again feel this was more the strategy of the label trying to emulate the success of previous separately released double-discs like Guns & Roses Use Your Illusion I and II, (which, incidentally, I think was far more effective as both those discs were equally brilliant and diverse). Like Mesmerize, many of the songs off Hypnotize have guitarist Malakian sharing the vocal duties along with main vocalist Serj Tankian adding contrast and showing-off their brilliant harmonies on tracks such as "Kill Rock 'N' Roll," "Lonely Day" and the powerful title track. The opening two tracks, "Attack" and "Dreaming" exemplify standard SOAD patented thrash-metal exerting bone-crunching riffs and supremely powerful vocals from Tankian. I do admire the bands creativity and their audacious ability to add a sense of quirkiness and eccentricity to their music but songs like "Vicinity Of Obscenity" (what the f**k is a terracotta pie? One can only assume it's a dry, crusty...) and "She's Like Heroin" go beyond the realm of ridiculousness. But I guess if I was locked-up in Houdini's house for several months straight I too would be a sputtering spastic nonsense (I once lived off Laurel Canyon and have witnessed...but thankfully never experienced...the canyon hippy-drug whores. Not sure if that's what the lyrics are about but I just thought I'd throw that in.) On this release the band do show a wider spectrum of musical influence. Sure there's the usual traces of classic thrash and alt-metal...the band admittedly are big fans of both Slayer and Faith No More...but Hypnotize also shows traces of early '80s punk (particularly the end of "Stealing Society" where Daron sings like Jello Biaffra) and '70s prog-rock (listen to the closing epic "Soldier Side" and, believe it or not, you will hear a strong similarity to early Kansas!). Other noteworthy tracks include "U-Fig" and the Ararat classic "Holy Mountains." Bottom line: Hypnotize is a brilliant album but not quite as strong as SOAD's predecessors.

Shockwaves CD REVIEWS ISSUE 13 Page 2