Protect the Land

"Protect the Land" is a song recorded by Armenian-American heavy metal band System of a Down. It was released as a double A-side single with "Genocidal Humanoidz" on November 6, 2020, through American Recordings and Columbia Records, to raise awareness and funds for Armenia and the unrecognised Republic of Artsakh amid the 2020 Nagorno-Karabakh war. It is the band's first release in 15 years since their fifth studio album Hypnotize (2005),[2] their first single in 14 years since "Lonely Day" (2006), and their first two singles to not featured their long-time producer Rick Rubin. The two singles have raised over $600,000 that was donated to the Armenia Fund to help those who have been affected by the war.[3][4]

"Protect the Land"
SOAD Protect the Land.jpg
Single by System of a Down
B-side"Genocidal Humanoidz"[1]
ReleasedNovember 6, 2020 (2020-11-06)
RecordedOctober 2020
Songwriter(s)Daron Malakian
  • Daron Malakian
  • Lara Aslanian
System of a Down singles chronology
"Lonely Day"
"Protect the Land" / "Genocidal Humanoidz"
Music video
"Protect the Land" on YouTube

Background and releaseEdit

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 a dire and serious war being perpetrated upon our cultural homelands of Artsakh and Armenia.

—The band about the inspiration behind the song.[5]

"Protect the Land" was written by the band's guitarist and second singer Daron Malakian in 2018 along with another song about tensions involving the unrecognised Artsakh, called "Lives", for his second solo album, Dictator.[5] In late September 2020, after a new war broke out between Armenia, Artsakh and Azerbaijan in the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region, the band members started using their platforms to raise awareness of the issue. The band's lead singer Serj Tankian, whose grandfather survived the 1915 Armenian genocide, told The Fader that he sees a "high probability of genocide of Armenians" in Artsakh being carried out by Azerbaijan with the support of Turkey.[6] Tankian donated $250,000 to the Armenia Fund and also participated in an online fundraising concert called "Rock for Artsakh" in October.[7][8]

Within a few days of deciding to record, each musician started arranging his own part. Tankian developed his harmonies for "Protect the Land" while still in New Zealand, where he lives part-time, and he later flew to Los Angeles on October 11 to join everyone in the studio. They finished tracking the cuts that week.[5] Bassist Shavo Odadjian said that "it was such a pleasure for us to be together in the studio again, very comforting and natural, like no time had passed at all".[2] On November 6, 2020, "Protect the Land" was released along with "Genocidal Humanoidz" digitally as a double A-side single.[9] The artwork of the track features the flag of Armenia with the zig-zag chevron pattern of the flag of the Republic of Artsakh superimposed and the We Are Our Mountains monument in its capital Stepanakert.[5] It is the first release of the band in 15 years since their chart topping fifth studio album Hypnotize from 2005. In an official statement released on their website after the singles' premiere, the band said they hoped their fans would listen to the songs and "be inspired to speak out about the horrific injustices and human rights violations occurring there now".[10]

Critical reception and compositionEdit

In a positive review for Louder magazine, Merlin Alderslade wrote that the track is "built around a massive, groovy, swaying Daron Malakian riff that recalls a little of Steal This Album! banger "Mr Jack". It sounds huge – a reminder of the guitarist's impeccable knack for a big hook – but really it's the vocals that steal the show here. Daron and lead vocalist Serj Tankian remain metal's greatest singing duo, and hearing their voices wrapped around each other in perfect harmony again doesn't so much pull on the heartstrings as slap them like a double bass".[11] Kory Grow from Rolling Stone wrote: "The track opens with a slow-churning guitar riff and Malakian and Tankian harmonizing lyrics that ask listeners what they would do if someone tried to push them from their homes. "Would you stay and take a stand?" they ask mournfully. "Would you stay with gun in hand? They protect the land". To drive it home, when they repeat those questions later, Malakian runs his hands up his guitar neck, imitating the sound of bombs falling".[5]

Music videoEdit

The music video of the song features scenes from the bombardment of Artsakh's capital Stepanakert.

The music video for "Protect the Land", directed by Shavo Odadjian and Ara Soudjian, was uploaded to the band's YouTube channel on November 6, 2020.[10] It features footage of Armenian soldiers on the frontlines, as well as shots of the band with projections of some of the footage Odadjian shot superimposed over their faces, similar to the band's “Toxicity” video.[5]

While talking about the concept of the video, Odadjian said: "I brought in everyone from every age. We have babies, my two sons, the high priest of L.A. [Los Angeles], doctors, cab drivers, and soldiers in the video. At the same time, we have people in Armenia in Artsakh filming on the frontlines of the war going on. So the message is, 'I know we're thousands of miles away, but we stand with our troops and we stand for this one common cause as Armenians.'"[5]


Chart (2020) Peak
Australia Digital Tracks (ARIA)[12] 22
Belgium (Ultratip Flanders)[13] 38
Canada (Canadian Hot 100)[14] 88
Canada Rock (Billboard)[15] 50
Hungary (Single Top 40)[16] 11
New Zealand Hot 40 Singles (RMNZ)[17] 20
UK Rock & Metal (OCC)[18] 15
US Digital Song Sales (Billboard)[19] 20
US Hot Hard Rock Songs (Billboard)[20] 1
US Hot Rock & Alternative Songs (Billboard)[21] 10

Release historyEdit

Release dates and formats for "Protect the Land"
Region Date Format Label Ref.
Various November 6, 2020 [9][1]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b "System Of A Down Protect The Land / Genocidal Humanoidz - 7" Vinyl". November 6, 2020. Retrieved November 6, 2020.
  2. ^ a b "System Of A Down share first new songs in 15 years, 'Protect The Land' and 'Genocidal Humanoidz'". NME. November 6, 2020. Retrieved November 6, 2020.
  3. ^ "System of a Down Releases First New Music in 15 Years to Fundraise for Armenia". Vulture. November 6, 2020. Retrieved November 6, 2020.
  4. ^ "System Of A Down's New Singles Raised Over $600K For The Armenia Fund". Forbes. November 12, 2020. Retrieved November 19, 2020.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g "Hear System of a Down's First New Music in 15 Years, 'Protect the Land' and 'Genocidal Humanoidz'". Rolling Stone. November 6, 2020. Retrieved November 6, 2020.
  6. ^ "Serj Tankian on the threat of genocide in Artsakh". The Fader. October 30, 2020. Retrieved November 6, 2020.
  7. ^ "Iconic musicians unite for Concert for Artsakh". GlobeNewswire. October 22, 2020. Retrieved November 6, 2020.
  8. ^ "Serj Tankian donates $250,000 to Hayastan All-Armenian Fund". Public Radio of Armenia. October 8, 2020. Retrieved November 6, 2020.
  9. ^ a b "Protect The Land / Genocidal Humanoidz by System of a Down". Retrieved November 6, 2020.
  10. ^ a b "System of a Down Release First New Music in 15 Years". Loudwire. November 6, 2020. Retrieved November 6, 2020.
  11. ^ "System Of A Down's New Music: Our First Impressions". Louder. November 6, 2020. Retrieved November 6, 2020.
  12. ^ "ARIA Digital Tracks". ARIA Report. ARIA Charts. November 16, 2020. Retrieved November 21, 2020.
  13. ^ " – System Of A Down – Protect the Land" (in Dutch). Ultratip. Retrieved December 5, 2020.
  14. ^ "System Of A Down Chart History (Canadian Hot 100)". Billboard. Retrieved November 17, 2020.
  15. ^ "System Of A Down Chart History (Canada Rock)". Billboard. Retrieved November 19, 2020.
  16. ^ "Archívum – Slágerlisták – MAHASZ" (in Hungarian). Single (track) Top 40 lista. Magyar Hanglemezkiadók Szövetsége. Retrieved November 19, 2020.
  17. ^ {{cite web|url= Hot Singles Chart|publisher=Recorded Music NZ|date=16 November 2020|access-date=18 August 2021}
  18. ^ "Official Rock & Metal Singles Chart Top 40". Official Charts Company. November 13, 2020. Retrieved August 18, 2021.
  19. ^ "System Of A Down Chart History (Digital Song Sales)". Billboard. Retrieved November 19, 2020.
  20. ^ "System Of A Down Chart History (Hot Hard Rock Songs)". Billboard. Retrieved November 26, 2020.
  21. ^ "System Of A Down Chart History (Hot Rock & Alternative Songs)". Billboard. Retrieved November 17, 2020.

External linksEdit