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First of all, I'd like to just warn you all that I am better at doing critical appreciation than reviews, so bear with me a bit, this is my first one.
Released in Late November of 2005, Hypnotize is the 5th Album by System of a Down, whose sharp and often-on-the-mark socio-political commentary has dominated many of their previous albums. Hypnotize is a bit of a departure for the band for a couple of different reasons, the first being that this album is the continuation of its predecessor, Mezmerize. Second, the socio-political commentary that usually permeates the band's music is conspicuously absent, at least from what I could tell in the few times I listened to the album before this review went to press. Feel free to correct me on this point. Third, Hypnotize seems to feature a higher percentage of what I call the "silly tracks", those that have no apparent meaning or inspire more than a few chuckles due to the sounds/lyrics involved. Popular examples include "Bounce!", "Sugar", and "This Cocaine Makes Me Feel Like I'm On This Song" (From Toxicity, System of a Down, and Mezmerize, respectively).
These departures, ultimately, do little to detract from the overall quality of the album and it seems System of a Down have learned from some of the mistakes of Mezmerize.
1. Attack - A fairly standard opening song for System of a Down, there's not much to say about this one except that Daron Malakian's guitar work is reminiscent of Sad Statue, from Mezmerize, and Serj Tankian most certainly performs up to standard.
2. Dreaming - A bit more frantic than the previous track. One of the chief criticisms of the previous album was that Daron had too much singing time compared to Serj, but from this song, I think that the two singers seem to have found a compromise somewhere and their voices blend into a nice harmony that will carry on for the rest of the album.
3. Kill Rock 'N Roll - This is the first of the silly tracks for Hypnotize, in my opinion. It just strikes me as incredibly funny when Daron comes out of the blue and says "So I felt like the biggest a**hole/When I killed your Rock 'N Roll". I can find no meaning behind this song and, as far as I'm concerned, it doesn't really need one. The sheer novelty comes from that one line, and then there's the one about "eat all the grass that you want". If you had any doubts before that some songwriters use mind altering substances before writing songs (in the positive sense), they will be gone after you listen to this song. Once again, Daron's and Serj's voices blend into a good harmony.
4. Hypnotize - Something we haven't seen for awhile from System of a Down, a title track. A more mellow tone than the previous tracks and I actually heard some of their usual political commentary when I was typing this up. With the reference to Tiananmen Square, I can only assume that they were talking about the government or somesuch thing, I will have to listen to it a bit more closely. The one thing that stood out about Mezmerize was that Daron sang with more clarity and skill on the more mellow tracks and it really shows here. He can certainly afford to have some distinct solos of his own on this track.
5. Stealing Society - There is only one word I can use to describe this track and that word is "catchy". Nevermind that this word is usually reserved for trashy pop songs that happen to permeate the American charts like Tyranids. This song is catchy and I mean that in the most positive way. Once again, the lyrics seem to imply some sort of social or political commentary, but if it was there I didn't hear it. See? This is what critical appreciation is for .
6. Tentative - Again, I get the feeling that I've heard that opening riff somewhere before... Anyway, as I listen to the album and type out this review, I realise that more evidence is beginning to arise that potentially refutes my original statement about there being no socio-political commentary on Hypnotize. Screw that - it's all socio-political commentary in some way, shape, or form. This song is also quite typical of System of a Down and in some ways a return to Toxicity.
7. U-Fig - This is another silly track. Besides the very short and sudden intervals of gibberish (you'll have to listen to the track to understand what I'm talking about) I can see the message that this song is trying to put across. While Serj's vocals in this song are not unusual in terms of style, Daron seems to have brought some new guitar riffs to the table. Not neglecting the other members of the band, both Shavo and John both definitely perform up to standard. After all, the 'catchiness' of Stealing Society is mostly due to John's drum beats anyway.
8. Holy Mountains - I am not quite sure what this song is supposed to be talking about, but I do so love to sing along, especially the parts where everyone shouts out "Liar! Killer! Demon!" I do so love that part. Yes, I do see the irony that it is the longest track on the album and I have little to say about it. A whopping 5 minutes as opposed to the other 3 minute tracks.
9. Vicinity of Obscenity - This song fulfills the dual role of catchy and silly at the same time. Yes, it is fun to start chirping along "banana, banana, banana, terracotta, terracotta pie" but once again, I do not understand the deeper meaning behind this song and it is incredibly amusing to hear Serj alternating between falsettos and growls. The guitar riffs and drum beats are different from what I am accustomed to hearing from System of a Down but, overall, are quite enoyable.
10. She's Like Heroin - Okay, this is the last silly song on the album. Whew! 4 silly songs? Anyway, this seems to fulfill System's quota for one song about drugs per album, except that this one is twisted in a way that none of their other songs were. This is especially true after spending some time on mIRC in the chat amongst fellow LO-goers and the fine denizens (yeah, right) of Druchii.net - one tends to notice these things after a couple of months in late night chat.
11. Lonely Day - I really think that this is a song for lonely days or rainy days. It's just something I could imagine singing along to while sipping some tea and staring out the window. Because of the limited vocal range used, it makes an ideal singalong or a song to do on Karaoke night, assuming you can find some way to rip the lyrics out and leave the instrumental intact. Once again, Daron and Serj demonstrate a good harmony and one will easily recognize the train-like whining sound effect that serves as a bridge into...
12. Soldier Side (Reprise) - In all honesty, this is my favorite track and a very good ending to an epic two-part album. Some might label this track as being very "emo", but I don't think so. It's just a good old anti-war protest that may or may not make you question your faith and also make you wonder - you can be with liberal democracy or with the terrorists, but who's with the soldiers? Does anyone think of the common man out there on the battlefield fighting? Not really, apparently.
With Hypnotize, System of a Down closes the book on another epic piece of work. They've learned from their mistakes, reinvented their style, and come a long way since their self-titled debut. I will have to take back my earlier statement that they have shied away from doing much social and political commentary on this album, but other than that, I'd say it was a job well done. There are many people who say that Hypnotize, not Mezmerize, is the true successor to Toxicity and even though I liked Mezmerize a lot, I'd have to agree.
Final Verdict - 4.5/5
Pros - Slight reinvention and improvements in style, Daron has found a good compromise with Serj over who gets to sing more
Cons - Short, may be a bit too much silliness for more serious System of a Down fans
I also loved this CD, vicinity of obcenety may sound strange, but is a funny and great song!!
i need to find something interesting to put here
Ok Scotty, jokes over... NOW BEAM UP MY CLOTHES!
I struggle with myself over whether Hypnotize or mesmerize is my favorite album. I loved both a lot, they had tons of great songs. Great review!
Six months after Mesmerize was released, System Of A Down give us the second half of the Mesmerize/Hyptonize package. It's not much different than Mesmerize as far as quality goes, probably not quite as good though. At first I didn't like it that much, but I listened to it more and it definitely grew on me. "Attack" is a pretty cool song, a good way to start off the album. "Soldier Side" is a good one as well, definitely one of the best on the album. Of course, there are some undeniable flaws with this album. For one thing, Daron should NOT be singing, AT ALL! Seriously, his voice is annoying as ****, he can't sing for ****. I actually like the way him and Serj will harmonize together in some songs, but on his own, his voice is just horrible. There are also some really annoying songs here, such as "Lonely Day"(I can't believe this became a single) and "She's Like Heroin", but in the end the album is still an OK offering, even if not great or anything. System might not be as good as they use to be, but they're still one of the most original bands around today, and one of the best.
MEAT IS MURDER
I think i know the hidden meaning of Vicinity of Obscenity but it is a little mature.
It is about sex, pure and simple (what do you think the banna stands for:shifty After that look closely at the terrcoata pie).
"Will we all, learn defeat, from the [*****s], with bad feet, beat the meat, treat the feet, to the sweet, [milky seed]".
Two other things.
Sorry if I spoiled anything for anyone.......
"Heresy is like a garden weed, it won't stop feeding until you... BURN THE WHOLE DAMN GARDEN WITH A FLAMER, BURN IT, BURN IT TO HELL!!!!!" "Is there a wittle puppy in the garden? ITS A DAEMON! BURN IT!"
wow. maye at te time i was listening to the news a lot, or i just absorb useless info all the time, but to me a lot of those songs have actual meanings behind them.
and yes, even on the silly songs there is socio-political commentary.
wow. now that was interesting
This is a part where i'm ment to 'big up' my clubs forum-
Marvel at its brilliance
Marvel at its sheer scale
Marvel at the 6 core posters