This is System Of A Down’s second album and their most successful to date. It combines a variety of heavier music into one huge eclectic mix, which should be interesting listening. The group also had some highly political lyrics in their songs as well, giving their songs an edge. Produced by legendary producer Rick Rubin, this should be a very worthwhile Alternative Rock album, so let’s hear it. It was released around the time of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, which halted some of their progress to fame, but should be a good listen anyway. The album cover is obviously a mockery of the Hollywood sign, which points to the band’s humour very nicely.
We begin with Prison Song which begins with some on/off chords and whispered lyrics stating, “Trying to build a prison”. The piece eventually launches into a weird piece of music that is a great mixture of eclectic influences and points to the stupid idea of imprisoning ordinary people from the USA within the realms of prison for extremely minor offences. It’s an interesting and different listen that makes perfect sense which is very political, but great music too. It ends with a sustained chord that verges on feedback. Great start to the album.
Next along is Needles begins with some odd guitars, before launching straight into some awesome palm-muted glory Metal guitars. It’s a very weird tune and certainly sounds different and interesting throughout. It is a great mixture of mostly very Heavy Metal sounds but informed by many other genres and literate musicality as well. It goes into a weird second half piece, which clearly references drug use, before launching back into full-on Metal mayhem. Excellent work.
Deer Dance launches with a slower tempo and more crushing Heavy Metal styled palm-muted guitars. Singing about the USA and its overly controlling political and social norms, System Of A Down do very well on this song. A very interesting and energetic listen, this is quite good to listen to. A really excellent piece with some unusual melodies and a softly spoken lyrical section in the second half, before launching back into the song at hand, this is really brilliant. Great tune.
Jet Pilot is next and is a very Thrash Metal sounding piece of music, before launching into a more melodic section of music. The song tos and fros between these sections, all in a two-minute-long piece of excellence. Certainly upbeat and enjoyable, this is definitely great to listen to. It’s excellently done. In the second half are some interesting guitar riffs and clanging basslines, before ending in a furious sonic rush. Brilliant.
Next along is X. It is under two minutes long and has some muted guitars, drum rolls and some Metal flavour to begin with. The sounds and melodies on this album are very intricate and lively, with no exception to this tune. Screaming, “We don’t need to nullify!” is amazing, and sounds very direct. Another decent and in your face tune, it is an energetic and sugar rush based piece that sounds really awesome. Great, and over before you know it.
Following is Chop Suey! which is the band’s most popular song. It begins with banging drum sticks, furiously strummed acoustic guitars, clean electric guitar parts and drums, before launching into Metal mayhem. This piece of songcraft is very well done and sounds really direct and interesting, which has some rapid-fire lyrics and different sections of ear candy. A real classic of a song, this shows the group as a force of undeniably great music makers. Pleading in Biblical concepts, this is a really twisted piece of music, and a nice listen from start to finish. It concludes with some power chords and string sections over pleas for forgiveness, very nice.
Bounce goes straight into a Heavy Metal/Thrash Metal piece which is really excellent and talks about male sexual lust in the lyrics. It is a really catchy tune that demands repeat listens, being very direct and amazing sounding. A really great piece of music, it is under two minutes. Another brilliant effort all the same, however.
Forest begins with some interesting percussion and drum sounds, before going straight into another Metal monster. It is very catchy and awesome listening, just sounding really loud, punchy and direct. It is a longer piece at four minutes long, with many different sections to it that sound really excellent. A really good listen, System Of A Down really do a top job on this album, and everything on this song is very near perfect. That is merely an example of what these guys can do. Towards the end, it goes into a bass-heavy beat groove, before launching into a chaotic finish. Great music, once again.
Next is ATWA which begins with loose guitar parts, some quiet harmonies and a softer approach in general to the music listening on this album. It quickly launches into a self-pitying tune that is actually very good. In any case, this is a lively, energetic and eclectic listen and a mixture of sounds. It certainly sounds excellent, and there are some quirky guitar parts throughout. A really top piece of music, it ends after only a few minutes. Very precise Heavy Metal here.
Following is Science begins with some nice palmed muted and harmonic based guitar parts, before going straight into a sludgy and powerful sounding piece that, once again, leaves a big impression on the listener. A really nice listen, all the same, this launches into a strange set of melodies in the second half which is from the band’s Armenian background. It certainly sounds odd but is great nonetheless. Another pounding Metal number to sink your teeth into, brilliant.
Shimmy begins with some awesome drop-tuned guitars, heavy drumming and some rapid-fire lyrics that sound really irresistibly good. It is another nonsensical piece that is less than two minutes long and just sounds really interesting and great simultaneously. Singing, “Indoctrination of our nation,” these guys know how to deliver interesting rhymes in a political way. A weird, yet wonderful tune.
Toxicity is the title track of the album. It begins with some really pretty guitar work before drums enter indicating that the Metal mayhem must begin, which it does. It quickly goes into a decent piece of music that sounds really melodic, rocking and punchy. It sounds very good and should appeal to Rock and Metal fans alike. Socially conscious lyrics are on this track. In the second half, it goes into a full-on Metal groove that is different to the rest of the song. Another awesome and great listening experience, it finishes with some chanting. Brilliant.
Next along is Psycho which has some deep, clanging bass guitar and some unusual Electronic melodies, before launching into a strange piece referencing cocaine and hookers, a joke or not? It may be drawing on the band’s personal experiences, but if so, is not to be taken seriously. It goes into a smooth midsection that sounds really excellent and goes back and forth between melodic beauty and furious drum rolls and powerful listening. Some awesome slow guitar solos are here for listening towards the end, which sounds completely different. This continues until the fade-out, very nice.
Following is Aerials which begins with a moody string section before some clean electric guitar parts enter. This is very sad sounding. Before long, crushingly loud guitars and melodies play, sounding really amazing and different. A good piece of melancholy heavy music, this is a change from the rest of the album. A wonderful listening experience, this is good listening, even though it is not the best of the album here. Some Electric Sitar is hidden amongst the vocal harmonies at the end. It ends with a bell chime.
Arto is the last song on this album. It begins with some unusual melodies from a wind instrument of sorts and sounds soothing and calming. Before long, some random percussion and melodies enter into this piece. It’s not Metal at all here. Instead, the band draw on their Armenian-American heritage to deliver a very tribal piece of craft to listen to. Nice effort, especially if you like World Music.
This album is really superb. It balances out a huge amount of interesting styles and genres with some amazing playing, punchiness, political commentary and other great ideas as a band. This is an excellent album for those of you who dig Metal and similar types of musical glory out there. Too bad System Of A Down isn’t together anymore. Nonetheless, this is a great album and an energetic listening experience that ticks all the right boxes. Highly recommended.
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