This metal alternative band from Los Angeles, California, USA, comprises three members of Armenian heritage, Serj Tankian (b. 1968, USA; vocals), Daron Malakian (b. 1976, USA; guitar) and Shavo Odadjian (bass), and John Dolmayan (drums). Tankian, Malakian and Odadjian first played together in 1993 as Soil, renaming themselves System Of A Down, from a poem by Malakian, in 1995.
Recruiting drummer Dolmayan they built up a following on the southern California circuit with their explosive live act. Rick Rubin, who, in September 1997, made the band the first new act on his American Recordings label, spotted them playing at Hollywood’s Viper Room. Their debut album, released in June 1998, was recorded at the Sound City studios with Rubin and Dave Sardy acting as producers.
The band’s heady fusion of alternative metal and programmed beats was augmented by subtle Eastern European influences, earning them comparisons to contemporary metal bands such as Korn and the Deftones. The band’s political agenda raised their aggro-metal to another level, however, with songs such as „P.L.U.C.K.“ („Politically, Lying, Unholy, Cowardly Killers“) and live favourite „War?‘ refusing to draw a veil over atrocities committed in their homeland.
The band subsequently enjoyed high-profile touring slots with Slayer and on summer 1998″s Ozzfest, and confirmed their status as one of the leading rock acts of the new millennium with the release of Toxicity.
System of a Down has confirmed that Disc One („Mezmerize“) from the band’s 2-disc set, „Mezmerize/Hypnotize,“ will be released on May 17, 2005. Disc Two („Hypnotize“) is expected to see a late fall release.
The first single from „Mezmerize/Hypnotize“ will be the track „B.Y.O.B.“ [Bring Your Own Bombs] which will hit the airwaves this month. The song, which questions a president’s involvement in the business of war, balances a near-R&B groove – „Everybody’s going to the party have a real good time/Dancing in the desert blowing up the sunshine“ – with the song’s recurring demand, „Why don’t presidents fight the war?/Why do they always send the poor?/Why do they always send the poor?“
System of a Down have relaunched their website – www.systemofadown.com. The revamped site will offer intriguing glimpses of the artwork for „Mezmerize/Hypnotize,“ much of which was designed and painted by Vartan Malakian, guitarist/producer Daron Malakian’s father.
System of a Down wrote some thirty tracks for „Mezmerize/Hypnotize“ and recorded them at producer Rick Rubin’s Laurel Canyon studio between June and November of 2004. The album was produced by Rubin and Daron Malakian and mixed by Andy Wallace, who also mixed „Toxicity“ and „Steal This Album!“ The new songs are more complex, more progressive, more unorthodox, and more experimental than ever, while retaining the idiosyncratic, ironic and schizophrenic qualities that make System of a Down so distinctive. Topics include relationships, the evils of television and corporate mind control, the mysteries of life and death, and a surreal experience at a celebrity baseball game. Some of the song titles are „Radio Video,“ „Old School Hollywood,“ „Cigaro,“ „Lost in Hollywood,“ „Question,“ „Vicinity of Obscenity“ and „Revenga.“ The decision to release the two discs six months apart was made simply to give fans time to get into and really live with the music from Disc One before plunging into Disc Two.
„Mezmerize /Hypnotize“ will be the follow-up to the nearly six-million-selling „Toxicity“ which was released in September 2001 and debuted in the Number One position on the Billboard/Soundscan charts. Of that album, Rolling Stone wrote, „‚Toxicity‘ resembles nothing else in contemporary hard rock,“ and the New York Times commented, „System of a Down is light years removed from the going trend in metal.“ „Toxicity“ generated four Top 10 singles, including the #1 smash „Aerials,“ and was named „2001’s Best Album of the Year“ by SPIN Magazine. Entertainment Weekly named „Mezmerize/Hypnotize“ the #1 (of 25) Most Anticipated Albums.