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System of a Down

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Reviews

Average Rating
★★★★½
(463 Reviews)

Metal Album Reviews[RSS]

  • I am not a head banger, and do not like metal. However, I am Armenian and had heard that an Armenian band was starting to get serious air play. Just for kicks, I bought both SOAD albums, more to support the band than to actually listen to. However, I did give the CD’s a spin and was amazed, and they haven’t left my CD player for weeks. My impression is that SOAD is better than other bands, because good art (1) draws on multiple influences, and (2) is both novel but also catchy and repetitive. If you listen close, there is definately an undercurrent of Armenian/Middle eastern melodies in the music. When combined with metal elements somehow makes for something original and easy to listen to.So the musical influences and complexity are compelling, but so is the singing. Unlike other metal acts where screaming dominates, Tanakian varies things around greatly where he screams like a madman at one minute, but then sings melodiously the next. You don’t honestly know what is coming next. So, even though I have never liked metal, I love these two albums. I think the original is more pure and direct, while the second is moving in a more commercial direction but still retains great originality and power.For an Armenian, both albums end on an amazingly powerful note. The first album ends with a burning song of hatred directed at the Turkish government who first perpetrated a genocide on the Armenian people killing over 1.5 million and stealing their lands, but then, to make matters worse have always denied their atrocious acts. Metal by definition is angry music, but here its appropriately directed at these vicious killers. So, SOAD is using their power for an important cause–to make people aware. For this they should be given not just musical high marks, but also political praise. The second album ends with the Lord’s prayer as sung in Armenian Mass, and shows deep Armenian Christian roots, and is a powerful interpretation. I found myself loving the music, and being proud that they emphasize their roots. I’d say these two albums are also some of the best music I’ve heard in the last 10 years. So, I’m proud of these guys.

    Posted on February 16, 2010 - Permalink - Buy Now
  • This is one of the most creative and motivated group of musicians i’ve seen in a long time. Where to begin? First off i’d say that words like “Mad Scientist” or maybe “Sonic Wizard” come to mind when describing Serj Tankian [vocals] when it comes to writing lyrics, and apparently trained fluently in opera. He wrote and sings almost all the lyrics on this album, which i prefer. Even though i think Daron Malakian [guitar & vocals] does great backup vocals, haha. Oh, I mean the hilariously obnoxious blood curdeling screams that can be heard from time to time, which is something i miss from there latest releases. John Dolmayan [drums] holds down a great rythme section while Shavo Odadjian [bass] keeps it simple. You can also occasionally hear Middle Eastern influences throughout the record, you hear this more often on later albums. Anyway, there is an ENORMOUS amount of memorable content on this record. Every song on this record is a keeper and i’d strongly advise this album for anyone who likes alternative metal or progressive rock. On a side note, Rick Rubin is probably my favorite producer.

    Posted on February 16, 2010 - Permalink - Buy Now
  • System of a Down is one of the most influencial bands in today’s metal scene. After the rap metal explosion, they were a major force in bringing metal back to its real form. Songs like Suite-Pee, Soil, and War? show the naturaly heavy side of System, while Suggestions, Peephole, and CUBErt show off their Eastern European flavor. Serj proves himself a great vocalist in Know, DDevil, and Darts, sounding like a cartoon character. The best songs are Spiders, Mind, and Politically Lying, Unholy, Cowadly Killers because they have the ability to take on their own life, and end up emotionally moving you. The only song on here that isn’t above and beyond anything else in hardcore metal today is Sugar. Overall, this CD is excellent. If the thought ever crosses your mind to get a Korn CD, get this one instead. It’s well worth it. If you liked this, I recommend Violence by Nothingface, Boy Hits Car’s self titled, and the Dracula 2000 soundtrack, which has the rare cut “Metro” on it.

    Posted on February 16, 2010 - Permalink - Buy Now
  • System of a Down lands at the forefront of the “new metal” movement with their self-titled debut album. I first heard of these guys when Snot brought them up to Santa Barbara to play a show with Manhole (now Tura Satana). Serj and the boys rocked the crowd hard, and left an indelible impression in my mind. Whenever I saw a mention of System in the press, I would remember that show as one of the most impressive I’d seen.The album is musically tight as a lock. Musically System mix it up from metal riffs to Rage Against The Machine-esque guitar squeals; the songs race along at breakneck speed and then slow to a stop with no warning. “War?” is the album’s anthem, a denunciation of the hypocrisy and greed that fuels all war efforts in our time. Other standout tracks are “Darts”, “Mind”, “Soil”, and “Know.” System may not be as MTV-friendly as Limp Bizkit or as hardcore as Pantera, but somehow they manage to walk a finer and truer line. Their politics are spoken from the heart, and their music is crushing, melodic, compelling and rocking all at the same time.

    Posted on February 15, 2010 - Permalink - Buy Now
  • I really don’t understand why this band is labeled as numetal. Having listened to this CD, I can safely say that there is nothing on here that even vaguely resembles numetal. There is no rapping, no turntabling, no simple 3-chord Korn riffs, and no indication that this album was made with any intention to get on MTV. What I’m hearing here (if I can describe it) is something much closer to progressive metal, and even death metal. System of a Down has much more in common with bands like Testament and Meshuggah than Korn and Limp Bizkit. In fact, Daron, the guitarist, doesn’t even like numetal, so I doubt he appreciates being lumped in that category.As a person who never really got the whole numetal/rapmetal thing, and would rather listen to just about anything else, I always avoided this album, because I didn’t expect it to be “my thing”. But, since I try to keep an open mind, I decided to borrow this album (and “Toxicity”) from a friend, and just see if I liked it. Wow, good move. I am VERY impressed! This album is nearly perfect in every way. Very heavy, very melodic, and very technical. Daron is far superior to any numetal guitarist, churning out wild time changes, thunderous riffs, and even some solos. John Dolmayan is a very talented drummer, who can do way more than just pound absent-mindedly at his kit, like say, John Otto. He does very complex beats, and some pretty impressive fills. The bass player is nothing special. His basslines are audible, but not very technical. Then there’s Serj. The madman behind this masterpiece (there, I said it, I used it the “m” word). Probably one of the most talented and bizarre vocalists there is. He has an amazing voice, and frightening range. He can go effortlessly from high-pitched squeals, to softer vocals, to death-like growling, and makes it seem easy. The lyrics? Well, I don’t know. Decide for yourself.It’s really a shame that most will only know this album by the single, “Sugar”. In my opinion, that song is extremely overrated, and easily the worst song on the album. In fact, it’s the only song on here that I dislike at all. Not that it’s bad, it’s just significantly weaker than the rest. If I had to pick favorites, I’d go with “Suite Pee”, “War”, “Mind, “PLUCK”, and the haunting “Spiders”, but every song is amazing in its own way.If you have reservations about numetal, and because of it have not gotten this album, just forget that, because I gurantee you’d be hard-pressed to find anything even vaguely “numetal” about this album at all. Anyone who has an appreciation for good music, and can keep an open mind will enjoy this. Haven’t listened to all of “Toxicity” yet, but something tells me it won’t come within miles of this. In fact, I doubt they could ever make another album like this. Don’t ask questions, just buy this now! I also recommend “Chaosphere”, by Meshuggah, if you liked this.

    Posted on February 15, 2010 - Permalink - Buy Now