Last November, 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.
Speaking to Guitar World, bassist Shavo Odadjian stated about returning to the studio with his SYSTEM bandmates: "I miss playing with those guys; I really do. Those two days we jammed were amazing. It's like I got to eat my cake, as they say. I wish it could have gone on longer. I miss those guys and love them so much. When we connect, there's an undeniable bond. No one in the band or out of the band can say it's not special. We will always have it. I mean, we took 15 years off and it all came out the same exact way it used to. That shit's not going away. It's not just the writing, it's the playing and energy that comes together when we are in the same room."
On the topic of the songwriting process for SYSTEM OF A DOWN's latest tracks, Shavo said: "Daron is a maniac; he's amazing. We have many different ways of writing. I've brought in parts that get arranged. Also, Serj [Tankian, vocals] brings stuff in like 'Question!', 'Shimmy', 'Vicinity Of Obscenity' and these other beautiful songs. And then there are times where Daron comes in with everything written — vocals and everything — because he's a singer-songwriter. How can we say no? He's in our band and that's the beauty of the sound we've developed. And that's how these two were.
"'Genocidal Humanoidz', though, he wrote and then we developed together at his house in 2017. We're about to shoot the video for that. I'm directing again. For 'Protect The Land', we teamed up with some other people, it was a team effort — no one took a directing credit. We all did it. For 'Genocidal Humanoidz', I took some time to develop the concept. It's a two-and-a-half-minute song, but there's a lot I can explain there because there's a lot being said. I came up with the idea with my directing partner, Adam Mason, who did the 'Die For The Pic' video. I hope we get to do it as soon as I hope. I don't want to promise anything and can't say when or how… but it's coming."
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.
"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 Odadjian, Malakian and drummer John Dolmayan convened for a jam session that produced several songs, only to abandon them when Tankian wouldn't commit to an album.
Within a week of their release, "Protect The Land" and "Genocidal Humanoidz" landed at positions No. 1 and No. 2, respectively, on Billboard's Hot Hard Rock Songs chart.
Photo credit: Clemente Ruiz