System of a Down have released their first new music in 15 years, sharing a pair of songs titled ‘Protect the Land’ and ‘Genocidal Humanoidz’.
The alternative metal legends – all of whom are of Armenian descent – came together and recorded the songs in order to raise awareness and funds amid “a dire and serious war being perpetrated upon [their] cultural homelands”.
Stream the tracks below – ‘Protect the Land’ arrives alongside a music video – and download both here via Bandcamp.
In a lengthy statement accompanying the songs, the band detail the conflict taking place between Azerbaijan and Armenia in Nagorno-Karabakh, a disputed region with a large ethnic-Armenian population that Armenians refer to as Artsakh.
A previous war between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the territory ended in a ceasefire in 1994. While internationally recognised as part of Azerbaijan, it has since been mostly governed by Armenia, retaining control and maintaining their independence up to this day.
In September of this year, war broke out in the region again after attacks by Azerbaijan, supported by Turkey. The band say the Aliyev and Erdogan regimes in Azerbaijan and Turkey are “committing genocidal acts with impunity” in the region at a time when the coronavirus pandemic, elections and civil unrest distract the rest of the world.
“For over the past month, civilians young and old have been awakened day and night by the frightful sights and sounds of rocket attacks, falling bombs, missiles, drones and terrorist attacks,” reads the statement.
“They’ve 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 have set their forests and endangered wildlife ablaze using white phosphorus, another banned weapon.”
Funds raised from the song’s download will be used to provide aid and basic supplies to those affected by the ongoing war, with band royalties donated to Armenia Fund, a US-based organisation providing those in need in Artsakh and Armenia with supplies needed for basic survival.
“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 bring peace to the region and rightfully recognize Artsakh as the independent nation it is.”
Late last month, System of a Down frontman Serj Tankian discussed the conflict in an interview with The FADER, saying there was a “high probability of genocide of Armenians if Azerbaijani troops takeover Artsakh”.
The band’s reunion follows a year in which members Tankian and drummer John Dolmayan have shared contrasting political views, with the latter publicly praising Donald Trump on a number of occasions.
Last month, Tankian admitted it was frustrating being “politically opposite” to Dolmayan, though clarifying the two were on “the exact same page” when it came to issues relating to Armenia.
In a new interview with Rolling Stone published today, the band discussed overcoming their differences to unite for the cause, with Dolmayan explaining that he got in contact with his estranged bandmates early in October.
“I sent a text to the other three guys, and said, ‘Irrespective of your feelings for each other and the past, we have to put everything aside and get in the studio and create a song for our people to bring attention to the situation and galvanize the forces of good worldwide,’” Dolmayan said in the interview.
Tankian added: “I’m not doing this as an artist for myself or for System of a Down or for any of the guys in the band; we’re all doing this for our people.
“So this is not a creative decision, this is not a business decision. This is a decision of activism, and that takes precedence over all other things for us.”
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