To mark the band’s triumphant comeback earlier this month, take a look back at the story behind their last two studio albums.
On this day back in 2005, Metal legends, System Of A Down released what would come to be their last release in over a decade. Widely considered to be two halves of the same album, Mezmerize and Hypnotize, in many ways, signified the band’s best work whilst also revealed them to be falling apart from the seams.
With both albums rife with extensive musical influences and commercial success, it was little known that, behind closed doors, volumes of conflict between the members signified that the end was nigh for System Of A Down.
Now, to celebrate the band’s recent comeback and mark fifteen years today since the debut of Hypnotize, take a look at the hidden history behind the band’s last two studio albums!
One of the most commercially prolific releases throughout their career, Hypnotize, the highly anticipated follow-up album to its predecessor, Mezmerize, accelerated up the charts from the day of its release. Debuting at number 1 on the Billboard 200 Album Charts and selling over 320,000 copies in its first week, the album immediately marked System Of A Down as one of the biggest bands of the 2000s- going on to sell over 8 million copies globally.
Yet, despite the extensive commercial success and critical acclaim, the writing and recording process behind the two albums marked the inescapable decline of System Of A Down, with tensions mounting and inner conflict between the members escalating.
Recorded at the iconic recording studio, The Mansion, then owned by the band’s producer, Rick Rubin, the band initially arrived withholding enough new material for three new albums- with guitarist Daron Malakian having written the vast majority.
Inspired by an extensive array of musical influences, spanning from Black Metal to British Punk and Motown girl groups, System Of A Down initially were just looking to create one album upon entering the studio. Yet, after struggling to narrow down the list of songs they wanted on the album and with growing concerns that their intense, prog-influenced sound would become off-putting in large doses, the band collectively agreed to split the release into two.
Although a highly prosperous and prolific time when it came to generating new material, inner conflicts arose as financial matters began to escalate. Guitarist, Daron Malakian became more involved with vocals than ever seen before; responsible for nearly half of them on the albums. This input led to both creative differences and a difficulty splitting financial revenue between the members, with frontman, Serj Tankian, unofficially exiting the band at this point.
Similarly, whilst being considered to be at their prime during this time, with their single ‘BYOB’ earning the band a Grammy Award for the Best Hard Rock Performance, few know that a huge extent of the bass throughout the two albums was not recorded by the band’s bassist, Shavo Odadjian.
Criticised amongst the other members for not taking his role as the bassist seriously enough, Odadjian was replaced multiple times by the band’s guitarist during the recording process. Seemingly more guitar-orientated, having taken up the bass at a later stage in life, Odadjian was accused by the other members of slacking off on his duties in the time since the band’s last album, Steal This Album– leading to wider tension amongst the members.
Following the release of both albums, the band established a four-year hiatus due to the tensions and didn’t record together for more than a decade after.
Now, having released two surprise singles earlier this month to bring awareness to the tragic circumstances in Artsakh and Armenia, the band are back. However, as to the relationship between the band, fans shouldn’t hold their breath for an upcoming album, with Malakian recently confirming that the two releases were just a ‘one-off’ and that the band are not currently working on any new material for the indefinite future.
For now, though, System Of A Down’s most recent albums continue to influence the music scene and inspire generations of musicians for years to come. Capturing a unique blend of Nu Metal alongside influences of Black Metal, Motown and Punk, both Mezmerize and Hypnotize deliver the unmistakable sound of the band… inextricably changing the course of the metal scene from then onwards.
How many of these facts did you know? Let us know via the comment section!