SYSTEM OF A DOWN has released two new songs, “Protect The Land” and “Genocidal Humanoidz”. The tracks, which represent the group’s first new material in 15 years, were recorded to address the current crisis occurring in the bandmembers’ cultural homeland of Armenia and Artsakh.
SYSTEM OF A DOWN explained in a statement: “We as SYSTEM OF A DOWN have just released new music for the first time in 15 years. The time to do this is now, as together, the four of us have something extremely important to say as a unified voice. These two songs, ‘Protect The Land’ and ‘Genocidal Humanoidz’ both speak of a dire and serious war being perpetrated upon our cultural homelands of Artsakh and Armenia.
“On September 27, the combined forces of Azerbaijan and Turkey (along with Isis terrorists from Syria) attacked the Republic of Nagorno-Karabakh, which we as Armenians call Artsakh. For over the past month, civilians young and old have been awakened day and night by the frightful sights and sounds of rocket attacks, falling bombs, missiles, drones and terrorist attacks.
“They’ve had to find sanctuary in makeshift shelters, trying to avoid the fallout of outlawed cluster bombs raining down on their streets and homes, hospitals and places of worship. Their attackers have set their forests and endangered wildlife ablaze using white phosphorus, another banned weapon.
“Because over 30 years ago in 1988, the Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh (which at the time was an Autonomous Oblast within the USSR), were tired of being treated as second class citizens and decided to declare their rightful independence from the Azerbaijan Soviet Socialist Republic whose borders engulfed their own.
“This ultimately led to a war of self determination by Armenians in Karabakh against Azerbaijan that ended in a cease fire in 1994, with Armenians retaining control of their ancestral homelands and maintaining their independence to the present day. Our people have lived there for millennia, and for most families there, it’s the only home they and their forefathers and mothers have ever known. They just want to live in peace as they have for centuries.
“There is an immediate need for global citizens to urge their respective governments to not only condemn the actions of the corrupt regime leaders of Azerbaijan and Turkey, but to also insist world leaders act with urgency to bring peace to the region and rightfully recognize Artsakh as the independent nation it is.
“Most importantly and urgently, we humbly implore you to donate, in sums small or large to provide desperately needed aid and basic supplies for those adversely affected with what are ever growing accounts of crimes against humanity.
“We realize that for many of you, there are more convenient ways you like listening to music, so please consider the opportunity to download these songs as an act of charity above all else. The music and lyrics speak for themselves. We need you to speak for Artsakh.”
In a new interview with Rolling Stone, SYSTEM OF A DOWN drummer John Dolmayan said that he reached out to his bandmates a month ago with a view toward overcoming their creative differences and generating donations for the Armenia Fund and the continuous humanitarian aid provided to the war-torn region.
“I sent a text to the other three guys, and said, ‘Irrespective of your feelings for each other and the past, we have to put everything aside and get in the studio and create a song for our people to bring attention to the situation and galvanize the forces of good worldwide,'” he said. “And I got pretty positive responses.”
Vocalist Serj Tankian said of his involvement: “I’m not doing this as an artist for myself or for SYSTEM OF A DOWN or for any of the guys in the band; we’re all doing this for our people. So this is not a creative decision, this is not a business decision. This is a decision of activism, and that takes precedence over all other things for us.”
Guitarist/vocalist Daron Malakian stated: “If we don’t do this, there isn’t any other huge Armenian rock band out there that’s gonna do this. There aren’t that many big Armenian celebrities out there that are going to do this. It’s kind of a duty. We came together because our country needed us, not necessarily because we’re so amped to do a brand-new SYSTEM OF A DOWN song. Our people needed us to do this.”
“Protect The Land” a was originally written by Malakian for the next album by his other group, SCARS ON BROADWAY, while “Genocidal Humanoidz” was penned three or four years ago when Malakian, Dolmayan and bassist Shavo Odadjian convened for a jam session that produced several songs, only to abandon them when Tankian wouldn’t commit to an album.
Odadjian said: “This was something that was bigger than any issue we’ve ever had with SYSTEM. We had to put everything away and say, ‘We’ve got to get together because, when we speak after 15 years, people will listen.’ People will be like, ‘Whoa, these guys came back? For what?'”
For the time being, there are no plans for SYSTEM OF A DOWN to record any more new material.
“If it was up to me, we’d have a new album every three years,” Dolmayan said. “But things aren’t up to me. I’m at the mercy of my team, and although I fought for it for many years with band members, I’ve accepted that it is what it is. We do have five albums and [now] two songs. We’ve accomplished a lot in our careers. If it ends at that, so be it.”
Photo credit: Clemente Ruiz