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System of a Down

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Metal Album Reviews See All →

  • 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