System of a Down Mezmerize

With the success of Toxicity and the subsequent thrusting of SOAD into the unenviable and probably unwanted position of saviours of nü-metal, all eyes were on their next trick; would they sell out and become ultra commercial or would they go the other way in an effort to eschew the attention and re-establish themselves as politically active and musically adventurous? The answer, strangely enough, is a bit of both. They’ve basically stayed the course and delivered an album that, thanks to producer Rick Rubin, is more polished and a little more accessible sonically, while lyrically and musically being as interesting and adventurous and political and observational as ever. Take a song like "Violent Pornography” that is easily the most commercial sounding song they’ve ever written, but the lyrics make it impossible to be a single. That leads into "Question!,” which is more like the challenging chug we’ve come to expect from SOAD. Mezmerize is a solid album that doesn’t really advance the band in any new directions but certainly doesn’t set them back either. (Sony BMG)