System Of A Down receive death threats for highlighting war crimes in their homeland

(Image credit: Clemente Ruiz)

Last week, in a surprise move, System Of A Down released two new songs, Protect The Land and Genocidal Humanoidz, their first new music in 15 years, to raise awareness and funds for humanitarian aid for the citizens of Nagorno-Karabakh, also known as Artsakh, a region with a large ethnic Armenian population, which has been a bloody battleground in a dispute between Armenia and Azerbaijan (who have been backed by Turkey). 

The band have admitted that they are ‘“overwhelmed with gratitude” after streams and downloads of the two songs helped raise over $600,000 (£454,000) for the Armenia Fund, and the four LA-based musicians, who don’t always see eye-to-eye on political matters in their adopted homeland, have taken part in a rare joint video interview to explain exactly what’s taking place in the conflict torn region.

“Because of you,” the band saw in a statement, “we will be able to help displaced civilians, young and old, who are affected by the hideous war crimes inflicted upon Artsakh by Azerbaijan and Turkey. Please take a few minutes to watch our full interview to get a more intimate look and understanding into why we came together to release Protect The Land and Genocidal Humanoidz. To the four of us, it's extremely important to share these truths with you. It is for our ancestors, our culture, and our nation. Help us spread the message.” 

In the six minute video, SOAD drummer John Dolmayan refers to what’s happening in Artsakh as “a moral issue and a humanitarian issue” and says that, in releasing the two new songs, the quartet are “defending our homeland, in our way.”

“What we’re hoping is, that what happened in 1915 [the Armenian Genocide], and what’s happened so many times in history doesn’t repeat itself, in that the world acts quickly and is responsive, and doesn’t just ignore it because it’s not a financial gain for them.”

Bassist Shavo Odadjian states in the video that he’s received death threats for speaking out about the conflict, and suggests that high profile celebrities including Elton John, Justin Bieber, Cardi B and Nas have backed down from voicing their own concerns following a similarly vicious social media backlash.

“I’m born there, I have a lot of family there,” Odadjian says. “The young ones are all on the frontlines. Every morning I wake up hoping there’s not a text from my mother saying, ‘This person is gone’.”

“We’re protecting our land, we’re protecting our culture, we’re protecting our nation,” he continues. “It’s turning into a holy war.”

“It’s an injustice that we want people to pay attention to,” Serj Tankian adds: “As System Of A Down, this has been an incredible occasion for us to come together, and put everything aside and speak out for our nation, as one.”

Find out more, and donate funds, at

SOAD 2020

(Image credit: Columbia)
Paul Brannigan
Contributing Editor, Louder

A music writer since 1993, formerly Editor of Kerrang! and Planet Rock magazine (RIP), Paul Brannigan is a Contributing Editor to Louder. Having previously written books on Lemmy, Dave Grohl (the Sunday Times best-seller This Is A Call) and Metallica (Birth School Metallica Death, co-authored with Ian Winwood), his Eddie Van Halen biography (Eruption in the UK, Unchained in the US) emerged in 2021. He has written for Rolling Stone, Mojo and Q, hung out with Fugazi at Dischord House, flown on Ozzy Osbourne's private jet, played Angus Young's Gibson SG, and interviewed everyone from Aerosmith and Beastie Boys to Young Gods and ZZ Top. Born in the North of Ireland, Brannigan lives in North London and supports The Arsenal.