System of a Down releases new music for the first time in 15 years


Creative Commons (Kieran Krud Photography)

System of a Down Creative Commons (Kieran Krud Photography)

The Armenian American metal band System of a Down has released two new songs, their first release since the two albums released in 2005, titled “Mezmerize” and “Hypnotize.”

The two new songs, “Protect the Land” and “Genocidal Humanoidz,” were recorded in October and released on Nov. 6, but “Genocidal Humanoidz” was written by guitarist and second singer Daron Malakian in 2016 or 2017.

The goal of releasing these songs is to raise awareness of the 2020 Nagorno-Karabakh War, which lasted a month and a half, from Sept. 27 to Nov. 10. Armenia and the unrecognized Republic of Artsakh fought against Azerbaijan because Azerbaijan wants to claim the land that Artsakh currently occupies.

To my surprise, “Protect the Land” is a catchy, radio-friendly, somewhat mellow song. It’s much closer to “Lonely Day” than “Chop Suey,” but the lyrics clearly convey the struggles in Armenia and Artsakh, and harkens back to the 1915 Armenian Genocide, especially with the lines “Some were forced to foreign lands. / Some would lay dead on the sand.”

The opening verse of “Protect the Land” sets the tone for the rest of the song and establishes an us-against-them, good versus evil mentality. “The big gun tells you what your life is worth. / What do we deserve before we end the Earth? / If they will try to push you far away, / Would you stay and take a stand? / Would you stay with gun in hand?”

“Genocidal Humanoidz” hits heavier musically than “Protect the Land” and definitely amps up the good versus evil rhetoric, with the determined lyrics of the verse: “You, me, us, them / Beating the devil. / We never run from the devil. / We never summoned the devil. / We never hide from the devil.”

The song also refers to the opposition in a number of negative ways, including: “terrorists,” “prostitutes who prosecute,” “genocidal humanoids” (as the song title suggests, of course) and “bastards.”

I think it works in the band’s favor that lyrically the songs aren’t too specific. That makes them more versatile and gives them the potential to be applicable to other situations and regions that deal with similar issues. For example, I could see people in Israel and Pakistan relating to this song as much as the people in the region the song is about might relate to it.

It’s a bold move to support Artsakh and the band has received death threats for taking the side of Artsakh. 

Lead singer and guitarist Serj Tankien’s grandfather lived through the Armenian Genocide, so Tankien takes the conflicts that occur in the region very seriously and fears there may be another genocide in the future.

New Musical Express (better known as NME) and several other music news outlets have reported that Malakian said he doesn’t anticipate any new System of a Down music in the near future. The situation in their former home country of Armenia united the band members, but other than that, they are stagnated by creative differences and have not found a way forward.

Kelsey Ogle can be reached at [email protected]