One New System Album Done, One To Go

System Of A Down premiered "Mezmerize," the first of two new albums it will release this year, for journalists last night (April 13) in New York. Due May 17 via American Recordings/Columbia, the set p

System Of A Down premiered "Mezmerize," the first of two new albums it will release this year, for journalists last night (April 13) in New York. Due May 17 via American Recordings/Columbia, the set picks right up where 2002's "Toxicity" left off, with SOAD's unique brand of metal instantly familiar and intact.

This is the shortest album of the band's career, clocking in at just over 37 minutes. However, what it lacks in length, it makes up for in intensity. "Mezmerize" begins with an acoustic intro, "Soldier Side," and ends with the melodic "Lost in Hollywood." In between, much of the album unspools at a jackhammer pace, zig-zagging between tempos and genres from thrash metal to punk to SOAD's Armenian roots.

Most System fans have by now heard two of the 11 tracks: first single "B.Y.O.B." and the widely leaked "Cigaro." After the intro, "Mezmerize" jumps right into the war-bashing "B.Y.O.B.," which is No. 13 on both Billboard's Modern and Mainstream Rock Tracks chart. It's the most political song on the album, asking "Why don't presidents fight the war? Why do they always send the poor?"

"Revenga" begins with frontman Serj Tankian frantically spitting lyrics before easing into a chorus with the lyrics "my sweet revenge will be yours for the taking, it's in the making."

"Radio/Video" starts out with Tankian proclaiming, "Hey man look at me rockin' out, I'm on the radio, hey man look at me rocking out, I'm in the video," then briefly flirts with an Armenian tempo. "This Cocaine Makes Me Feel Like I'm on This Song" is a straight-ahead thrasher that wouldn't sound out of place on any of the band's previous albums.

"Sad Statue" appears to be a song indirectly written about the Iraq war, containing the chorus "you and me, we'll all go down in history, with a sad Statue of Liberty, and a generation that didn't agree."

"Mezmerize" reaches its peak on the last two songs, both of which are about the vacancy and sadness of Hollywood. "Old School Hollywood" is the most uncharacteristic song here, and also one of the most compelling, thanks to a techno beat, vocoder and electronic effects. The lyrics were inspired by a celebrity baseball game in which guitarist Daron Malakian participated and name check celebrities such as Tony Danza and Frankie Avalon.

SOAD is planning a series of surprise shows in support of "Mezmerize." The only North American date confirmed at deadline is the April 24 Souls benefit at Los Angeles' Universal Amphitheatre. A European tour begins May 27 in Lisbon.

Here is the track list for "Mesmerize":

"Soldier Side"
"B.Y.O.B."
"Revenga"
"Cigaro"
"Radio/Video"
"This Cocaine Makes Me Feel Like I'm on This Song"
"Violent Pornography"
"Question!"
"Sad Statue"
"Old School Hollywood"
"Lost in Hollywood"