Killing In The Name Of (1992)→ The Kill (2001) 

Fortunate Son (1969)–>The Kill (2001) 

London Calling (1979)–> The Kill (2001) 

The Kill (2001)–> B.Y.O.B (2005) 


While every song listed above ties together an important lineage of anti-war music, perhaps the most significant link would be between The Kill and B.Y.OB. respectively. By the time System of A Down was working on their final two albums The War on Terror had been declared and the U.S.A. was in the midst of an extremely violent period. The Kill primarily focused on the exploitation of power that the police and soldiers were exerting (often racially motivated), System Of A Down wanted to focus on the power dynamics of war as a whole. SOAD saw an opportunity to critique not only the soldiers of war but the United States as a whole.

Both bands built their image on critiquing “wrongs” in society and thus the music written in the band’s time always had an edge against the competition. Major comparisons between both songs deal with the hypocrisy that war brings out of people. Yet, when reading in between the lines the lineage between both songs grows with each listen. It’s clear to see that Ian Mackaye of Fugazi and Serj Tankian of System Of A Down both are lyrically driven in where they believe the truth of war lies. 


Marching forward, hypocritic

And hypnotic computers

You depend on our protection

Yet you feed us lies from the tablecloth→ Here Tankian claims that the U.S. Government stays far away from the actual conflict of war. Rather the people that make decisions watch soldiers follow hypocritical oaths while leaders eat lavish meals. 


Embrace tradition and occupation

Cull memory for assimilation

Secure for future generations

Secure for future generations→ Similarly MacKaye paints a picture of a soldier who follows their oath because of “tradition”. Yet, the tradition was created by a higher power that doesn’t follow the same orders. The soldier believes that their actions will secure the rights of future generations. 


Everybody’s going to the party

Have a real good time

Dancin’ in the desert

Blowin’ up the sunshine—> Next, Tankian relates war in the desert to that of a party. “Everyone” is going to war so you should enlist as well. Once the participants join the war they can go into the desert and blow up the sunshine presumably to kill as many as possible. 


Laying in this cold field

Waiting for the call

Feeling right here in this uniform

I think I got them all→  Akin to SOAD the protagonist in Fugazi’s song feels at home murdering for his country. The desert is now replaced with a cold field but the sentiment is the same. Soldiers who go to these wars are looking for a purpose and they feel at home murdering for a cause. 


Breaking into Fort Knox

Stealing our intentions

Hangers sitting, dripped in oil

Crying, “freedom”

Handed to obsoletion→ Tankian claims that the enemy is breaking into the country. This is why the leaders send more people to war. Not only for more oil to sell to Americans,  but to protect the “freedom” those in the war claim to be defending. 


Laid out, immobile

Hoping for that call

It’s in my mouth, under my skin

Sodium Pentathol→ MacKaye pens that the same drive for freedom is what makes people die for their country. The call to war is an addiction and the only drug to cure oneself is dying at the enemy’s hands or by suicide. There is no happiness in war rather the soldiers who take pleasure in abusing power serve no real purpose in the end as well. 


By digging into the lyrics above it’s clear that the lineage of anti-war anthems continues past Fugazi’s The Kill. System Of A Down themselves would continue carrying the torch themselves, but B.Y.O.B is a shining example of an expansion of ideals in mainstream music.