serj tankian

Lead vocalist and occasional guitarist, Serj Tankian, from the heavy metal band System of a Down.

The heavy metal band System of a Down surprised the music world with two new songs Nov. 4, marking the band’s first new release in 15 years.

The band released the songs “Protect the Land” and “Genocidal Humanoidz,” along with a message regarding the current territorial conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan. Signed by band members Serj Tankian, Daron Malakian, Shavo Odadjian and John Dolmayan, the message asks listeners to implore government leaders to condemn the advancement of Azerbaijani troops on the contested area of Nagorno Karabakh, known in Armenia as Artsakh. 

The Republic has been a highly contested area since the collapse of the Soviet Union, when Nagorno Karabakh declared its independence from Azerbaijan. Although a 1994 ceasefire quelled aggressions, tensions again rose in July following a series of clashes.

“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,” the band wrote in a message to fans.

In addition to the call for action, the band also stated that proceeds from the songs will be donated to the Armenia Fund. 

“Protect the Land” is driven by Malakian’s wavy guitar riff as well as his vocal harmony with Tankian. “Genocidal Humanoidz” is much more in line with the band’s older sound in its fast and growling choruses. Both songs carry lyrics related to the conflict over Nagorno Karabakh and the possibility of genocide in Armenia. 

The band’s last release came in the form of 2006’s “Hypnotize,” which debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Top 200. Formed in 1994, the band quickly became known for their highly aggressive style of metal featuring rapid tempo changes and Tankian’s versatile voice. After riding a wave of success following their sophomore album “Toxicity,” the band went on to release four more albums before taking a hiatus, citing creative differences between Tankian and the other members of the band. 

Following the recent aggressions in their ancestral homeland, the band reconvened to release the songs as a call to action. 

“We're proud to share these songs with you and hope you enjoy listening to them,” the band wrote. “Further, we encourage you to read on to learn more about their origins and once you do, 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."

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