A bit of a surprise for me. I was getting my music ready for my cycle ride to work a couple of days ago; I wanted to listen to my favourite handful of System Of A Down tunes: Suite-Pea, Chop Suey, Toxicity, Know & Sugar; I’d be cycling into my work’s carpark as Sugar was ending so it’s a great cycle of songs for the ride. When I clicked onto their Spotify page I saw that they had release two new songs. It’s taken me a few days to get around to it but I finally listened to them today.
This is the exact kind of politically-charged agitprop you’d a) expect & b) the world could do with right now. This feels particularly weird in the context of public clashes between frontman Serj Tankian & drummer John Dolmayan over the latter’s support for populist, far-right American president Donald Trump. Nevertheless, these songs – the bands first in fifteen years – are a breath of fresh air in 2020. An enraged call for justice against war crimes in Armenia and indeed all over the developing world & the global south. A polemical roar against western Imperialism.
The songs are about, & in response to, complicated situations in & around the band’s ancestral homeland Armenia. I personally don’t feel knowledgable enough about these events to discuss them in detail but the band released the following statement on their Bandcamp page:
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 dire and serious acts of aggression perpetrated upon our cultural homelands of Artsakh and Armenia.
We’re proud to share these songs with you and hope you enjoy listening to them. Further, we encourage you to read on to learn more about their origins and once you do, we hope you are inspired to speak out about the horrific injustices and human rights violations occurring there now. Most importantly and urgently, we humbly implore you to donate, in sums small or large to help those adversely affected with what are ever growing accounts of crimes against humanity.
In turn, you will receive downloads of these two new songs and the feeling that you’re truly making a difference. These funds will be used to provide crucial and desperately needed aid and basic supplies for those affected by these hideous acts.
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 the following 44 days, civilians young and old were awakened day and night by the frightful sights and sounds of rocket attacks, falling bombs, missiles, drones and terrorist attacks. They 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 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 on their ancestral homeland as they have for centuries.
The current corrupt regimes of Aliyev in Azerbaijan and Erdogan in Turkey have now claimed most of these lands as their own, and committed genocidal acts with impunity on humanity and wildlife to achieve their mission. They banked on the world being too distracted with COVID, elections and civil unrest to call out their atrocities, and their tactic worked. They have the bankroll, the resources and have recruited massive public relations firms to spin the truth and conceal their barbaric objectives. This is not the time to turn a blind eye.
There is an immediate need for global citizens to urge their respective governments to not only condemn the actions of these crooked dictators, but to also insist world leaders act with urgency to impose sanctions punishing them for their war crimes.
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. Think of the list price for the downloads as a minimum donation, and if you have the ability and can be more generous with your donation, every single member of System Of A Down will be even more grateful for your benevolence. Band royalties from this initiative will be donated to Armenia Fund, a US based charity organization instrumental in providing those in need in Artsakh and Armenia with supplies needed for their basic survival.
The music and lyrics speak for themselves. We need you to speak for Artsakh.
Daron, Shavo, John and Serj
Protect The Land/Genocidal Humanoidz is available now on all good streaming services & digital distributors but to help the cause, why not purchase these songs from the band’s Bandcamp page.
Buy Tom a coffee?
Tom loves coffee. If you’ve enjoyed any of the content he’s created then please consider donating a few quid to buy him a cup.