Its been a solid 2 years since System of a Down released anything to the public, but their latest release, Mezmerize, was worth the wait. The thing is, its not worth it for the reasons you would think – and this isn’t the System of a Down you rocked out to 2 years ago.

Fact is, with the release of Toxicity in 2002, SOAD burst onto the mainstream scene, behind hits like ‘Chop Suey!’ and ‘Aerials’ – then, with the release of the aptly titled Steal This Album! they returned to their bizarre roots (for proof, see songs like ‘Chic n Stu’, ‘IEAIAIO’ or ‘Pictures’).

It would be easy to chuck new release Mezmerize in with Steal This Album under the heading of ‘Bizarre Heavy Metal’, but its just not as easy as that – Mezmerize surpasses both Steal This Album! and Toxicity in terms of sheer political statement, but also in terms of sheer entertainment and musical value.

Mezmerize is SOAD back at their insane best – guitarist/vocalist Daron Malakian is more involved vocally, and his guitar tracks have never sounded so refined; singer Serg Tankian is crazy as usual, his operatic but heavy metal sounding voice weaving in and out of each song; John Dolmayan and Shavo Odadjian thump along as strong as ever (with Dolmayan launching himself into the Pantheon of Fastest Ever Drummers Who Can Stop Suddenly).

The best thing (or at least my favourite thing) about Mezmerize is not the music, which is unequalled in its quality, or the message, which is unequalled in its clarity – its in the lyrics. On first listen, I had heaps of moments where I found myself just listening in pure delight, enjoying the craziness of the songs and the lyrics.

Hearing Serg and Daron singing lines like ‘Everybody’s going to the party, have a real good time’, ‘hey man! Look at me rocking out! I’m on the radio’ or ‘See you at the disco, bet you its Nabisco, bet ya didn’t know, yoo-hoo!’ was music to my ears and harkens back to the days of their debut album. Overall, Mezmerize is a great album, and one that I’ll be listening to more and more in the next little while. I give it a solid 9 out of 10 – a near perfect offering from a near perfect band.