A week ago, SYSTEM OF A DOWN released "Protect The Land" and "Genocidal Humanoidz", the band's first new songs in 15 years. The tracks were motivated by the recently erupted conflict between Artsakh and Azerbaijan, the latter aided by Turkey and accountable for the greatest violence the region has endured in 26 years. Produced by guitarist/vocalist Daron Malakian, who also wrote the music and lyrics, both songs are streaming now on all DSPs and are available for purchase on Bandcamp with band royalties earmarked for the Armenia Fund.
In a new interview with BBC Sounds, Malakian stated about the fan response to the new SYSTEM OF A DOWN songs: "We hadn't put out music for 15 years, so for people to still give a damn, it's really flattering — it really is. I've been hearing through the years so much from the fans, 'Please, new album. New album. New album.' No matter what we post or what we do or what other projects we have, it's always, 'New album. New album.' It's not a new album, but it's two news songs to the catalog that I'm very proud of that I feel stand up well with anything else that we've ever put out. And I feel like the fans have accepted it that way as well. It wasn't, like, 'Oh, yeah, new songs, but ah, they're horrible,' or anything like that. Fifteen years later, that can happen."
Asked if the making of the two new songs opened the doors to the possibility of SYSTEM OF A DOWN recording more music in the not-too-distant future, Daron said: "It's not that simple, I guess. I wish it was. It should be; it should be. But it gets a little bit more complicated than that. I don't wanna get into, like, 'Well, it's this person and that person.' We did this for a noble reason, and we did this for the right reasons. We didn't make any money off this — everything we've made from these songs we've donated straight into Armenia Fund. So it wasn't like a money grab; it wasn't trying to get fame and attention, and, 'Hey, we're gonna break the Internet,' or nothing like that. It was totally for the noble reason of our country needs us, and that was really the driving force and the motivation for this — it wasn't really about, 'Wow, we're so excited to do a new SYSTEM OF A DOWN record again.' But the fact that it happened so smoothly and everything like that, I personally do walk away and say it's a shame that certain things can't come together to make that happen, let's just say. 'Cause we did do these two songs in a really comfortable, smooth [way]. Everyone got along."
"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, drummer John Dolmayan and bassist Shavo Odadjian convened for a jam session that produced several songs, only to abandon them when singer Serj Tankian wouldn't commit to an album.
The music video for "Protect The Land" incorporates recent footage of the protests and on-the-ground fighting in Artsakh, but in a very personal and aesthetic way. As he did for all previous SYSTEM OF A DOWN releases, Odadjian executive-produced the music video and curated the cover and brand art for the project.
In 2018, Malakian publicly accused Tankian of not wanting to record, with Tankian responding that creative and financial issues with Malakian led to the stalemate. In a message on Facebook, Tankian wrote that Malakian wanted to control SYSTEM's creative process, take more of the publishing money and be the only band member to speak to the press.
Photo credit: Clemente Ruiz