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  • Unless you have a grudge against political rock, I don’t see how anyone can trash this C.D. or say it’s overrated. This C.D. is one of my favorites and, in my opinion, was the second best C.D. of 2001 (second only to Tool’s “Lateralus”.) I wouldn’t call it nu-metal– sure, there are typically heavy riffs and drum beats, but the soulful vocals (sometimes soulful, granted they sometimes yell) and meaningful/thought-provoking lyrics make this more than nu-metal. I’d call it intelligent metal. The lyrics aren’t entirely political (although they often are) also deal drugs and groupies, and other issues (over population, and science failing “mother earth”).

    Highlights include:

    “Prison Song” opens with a hard hitting riff which startled me at first. It then turns to chugging, machine gun riffs and drums, in between which singer Serj Tankien whispers “they’re trying to build a prison.” The song’s “boom-boom” riffs remain throughout the song while Serj’s angry voice sings Rage Against the Machine-esque paranoid lyrics about the government, prisons, and drug money.
    “Needles” is as heavy as “Prison Song”, but it has a dark theme and when guitarist Daron Malankian sings two minutes into the song (and Serj later joins him), it turns melodic. It then turns to turns back to hard, chugging guitars while Serj alternates between almost soulful and yelling.
    “Deer Dance” is a personal favorite. The guitars are slower, but equally as heavy. Lyrically, it’s about crooked cops shooting little kids. My favorite part of this song is when Serj’s voice comes down after the chorus, he sings the following verse slowly (whispering at some points) until the build up of the next chorus. Here, you’d think there’d be a heavy break down, but Serj and Daron sing a capella for about two seconds. Then, the bone crunching riffs and yelling return to end the song.
    “Jet Pilot” is really fast with some good guitar work, but Serj’s nonsense lyrics (which I think are about war) drag this song down a bit. It sounds good, though.
    Surely, most of us know how good the hit single “Chop Suey” is. It’s brilliantly combines metal, melody, soulful vocals and thought provoking lyrics. You can put your own meaning to this song; since it’s lyrics deal with religion (Jesus, angels and spirits) and suicide.
    I think “Bounce” is thrown in purely for mosh pit purposes. It’s not political, it’s just a fun song to listen to. The guitar chugs fast, and Serj sings a head banging chorus (“Bounce! Pogo, pogo, pogo, pogo!”)
    “ATWA” goes from slow verses to fast choruses, with great riffs. Serj shows his vocal range, here.
    “Toxicity” has great drum work (the best on the C.D.) with more irresistable riffs and deep, soulful vocals.
    “Psycho” builds slowly to another irresistable chorus that you’ll have in your head for days. The guitars and drums hit equally as heavy and simultaneously.
    “Arials” is, again, beautiful and heavy. Serj does some more real singing, in between the choruses (where his voice raises.) The lyrics, which compare life to a waterfall, are almost poetic. My favoirte part of this song, though, is at the very end of the song (when you think it’s over). Here, an instrument that sounds like an Indian flute plays a solo for a few seconds, then is joined by soft drumming and chanting. Brilliant.

    So, this album is a masterpiece. Again, I wouldn’t call it nu-metal, but I’d recommend it to nu-metal fans, as well as Rage Against the Machine fans, fans of intelligent metal, melodic metal, and thoughtful lyrics.

    Posted on December 14, 2009