System of a Down released two new songs earlier this month, the first music they’ve put out in over 15 years. No, the band weren’t able to overcome the “creative differences” that’ve kept them from writing and recording new music together all that time; they were simply able to put those differences aside in the name of raising money for their Armenian countrymen in Artsakh, a long-disputed territory which was in the midst of a bloody takeover by Azerbaijan.
Fans naturally want to know whether the recent reconciliation means more new System music is on the way, but given the unique nature of the recent collaboration the answer is a predictable “no,” according to guitarist/vocalist Daron Malakian.
Speaking with Guitar World, Malakian, who produced and primarily wrote both new System tracks, said that it’s unlikely the band regroup for new music any time soon, in effect a return to their status quo:
“Look, I never say never. We didn’t even know this was going to happen. I was on my way to releasing these songs with my other band Scars on Broadway. Then the situation in Armenia happened and put our differences aside. And our differences are only within the band.
“Personally and outside of the band, everybody gets along reasonably well. There is no hate for each other in System of a Down. We’re like a family. A lot of people think, ‘Oh, Serj and Daron don’t get along!’ and no, that’s not true. Serj and Daron get along just fine. But Serj and Daron, or Shavo and Serj, different people in the band will have a different idea of how they want the band to move forward. That’s kinda where our disagreements are at.”
That’s unfortunate news but shouldn’t come as any surprise to those closely following this saga over the years.
In a 2018 interview with Kerrang!, Malakian placed the blame for no new SoaD music squarely on the shoulders of frontman Serj Tankian, saying:
“I have material for a new System album. Right now, if everyone got together and was ready to play ball, I have an album ready. If it was up to me, System would have never gone on hiatus.”
“I realize that it’s not me. We’ve had so many meetings about it. I don’t want to throw Serj under the bus—he’s my friend and he’s someone that I care about—but I don’t know how to change his mind.
“We’ve all sat down and we’ve had meetings, and he’s totally set in his way of thinking. Serj was never really a heavy metal or a rock guy. I don’t know if he has the same love for this kind of music as I do.”
Shortly thereafter, Tankian issued a lengthy statement of his own. In that statement, the singer i) admitted that he is responsible for the band’s long hiatus after the Mezmerize/Hypnotize cycle, ii) confirmed stories that he didn’t even want to make those records in the first place, iii) alleged that by the time those albums were produced, Malakian “controll[ed] both the creative process and [made] the lion’s share of publishing, not to mention wanting to be the only one to do press,” and that Serj wanted equal creative input and financial reward for all four members of the band if SOAD were going to move forward, and iv) that Malakian’s latest Scars on Broadway album largely consisted of material that Tankian “didn’t consider applicable to SOAD.”
Earlier this summer, Tankian and drummer John Dolmayan, whose politics are diametrically opposed, got into a public war of words. Dolmayan is a vocal Trump-supporting conservative prone to disseminating conspiracy theories and racist misinformation while Tankian called any Trump lovers in his band’s fanbase “hypocrites.” Dolmayan later said that he welcomes all System of a Down fans regardless of their politics, prompting Tankian to say he respects Dolmayan despite their differing views. The two men also happen to be brothers-in-law.