Since the release of their self titled album in 1998, System of a Down has enjoyed being one of the most loved and prominent faces in metal for years. For many fans, System has always struck a nerve. Darting between lyrics about political warfare and the effects of drug abuse, the band touches on a broad range of subjects, leaving almost no lyrical stone unturned.
Unfortunately for both fans and casual listeners alike, System has been on a very, very long hiatus. The cold gap of 2006 to 2010 that left the world without System music was eventually closed over when System returned to touring in 2010 and people were ecstatic to see their favourite band back in action, but even the excitement of the band’s undeniably overwhelming presence being back on stages couldn’t cover the lack of the one thing everyone wanted; new music.
Now, in the craziest and most unpredictable year, many of us have ever seen, System has listened to our pleas and came back to the music scene with a duo of two incredible new songs; Protect The Land and Genocidal Humanoidz.
“Our war on those tyrants who’ve committed war crimes has just begun”
- Serj Tankian
Lead singer Serj Tankian has always been very vocal on politics, social injustices and the treatment of those deemed ‘lower class’, with poignant lyrics coming from some of the band's biggest hits, such as the opening line to 2005’s ‘Hypnotize’. “Our war on those tyrants who’ve committed war crimes has just begun. They will not live in freedom’s enough to enjoy what they may consider their spoils,” he recently said via his Twitter account. In another post, he said: “During these difficult times of the war, it is supremely important to stand by our leadership so the corrupt dictatorial enemy knows what a strong democracy with a strong diaspora looks like. We’re with you.” These new songs prove the band has no problem using their platform and the power their voices bring to attract both media and people’s attention to issues that may not be seen as important or prioritised over any other current world event.
‘Protect The Land’ is the first track on System’s new single, written by guitarist Daron Malakian. The song focuses on the current war happening in the band’s homeland, Armenia. On September 27, 2020, the combined forces of Azerbaijan, Turkey and ISIS terrorists from Syria attacked the Republic of Nagorno Karabakh, which Armenians dub Artsakh, leaving many without families and homes, and citizens of all ages stuck in makeshift shelters scattered throughout the country. “I want to help the innocent people currently caught in Azerbaijan’s ceasefire violations against the Republic of Artsakh and prevent another genocide against Armenians,” Malakian said, speaking to The Armenian Mirror Spectator in 2018
. Though this type of pain and suffering isn’t new to the country, with lyrics like ‘Some were forced to foreign lands, some would lay dead on the sand’ referring to the 1915 Armenian genocide that left 1.5 Armenians dead. Serj Tankian has touched on this subject previously on his successful solo album ‘Elect the Dead’
After the hard-hitting lyrics and familiar sound of ‘Protect The Land’, we are greeted with the second and final song of the single ‘Genocidal Humanoidz’. The opening line asks ‘Can you see us, beating the devil?’ with lyricist Malakian asking if the world is aware of the genocide on his homeland or if the media is successfully covering it up with events such as COVID and American presidential elections? ‘Genocidal Humanoidz’ takes on the view of someone who’s trying to alert other humans to the death and destruction they are facing but to no avail, their cries are unheard and they are left to deal with a war they never asked for. Deeper into the song, Malakian touches briefly on the hatred instilled into Azerbaijani children from an early age, with the innocent and unknowing children being bred to hate those who have never harmed them.
Speaking to Loudwire back in 2018
, Malakian expressed his concern with the lack of teachings regarding Armenian history. “I grew up going to an Armenian school, so at the Armenian elementary school, I did hear a lot and learn a lot about Armenian history and also the Armenian genocide. Then somewhere around seventh grade, I went to public school and there was nothing in the history books about Armenians, Armenian genocide, Armenian history. There was no mention of Armenia at all. I realized that it was something the American history books had completely ignored.”
Unlike ‘Protect The Land’, ‘Genocidal Humanoidz’ has a more vulnerable feel to it, almost as if to capture the feelings the band has towards the destruction of their country and people and give us the smallest taster of the pain they feel for 3 minutes. Though of course, with the signature System sound, it doesn’t entirely feel vulnerable, but like many more of Systems’ beloved and legendary songs, the power is in their words and showing their vulnerability in their strengths.
With the undoubtedly eye-opening and hard-hitting lines of System’s brand new music, it’s hard to feel like you can help in these trying times, but thankfully, by simply purchasing their new songs, you directly contribute to a fund for those struggling in Armenia. There are also multiple links, petitions, emails and funds you can access. Together in music, we are united. Together, we can bring attention and hope to the people of Armenia.
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