Rating:
8.6
System Of A Down - System Of A Down
30 June 1998


01. Suite-Pee
02. Know
03. Sugar
04. Suggestions
05. Spiders
06. DDevil
07. Soil
08. War?
09. Mind
10. Peephole
11. Cubert
12. Darts
13. P.L.U.C.K.

Japanese Bonus Tracks:

14. Marmalade
15. Storaged


System Of A Down are probably best known for their 2001 smash hit album Toxicity, which was just strange yet accessible enough to garner a massive following. However, before they got their major label backing, System of a Down released their self-produced, self-titled debut.

Unlike Toxicity which seemed to have a certain polish due to major label supervision, this album could be best described as genuinely unapologetic madness. No, no, I assure you it's not that fake self-poser crap Hypnotize or Mesmerize, this sirs and madams is a flash of brilliance which afterwards makes you feel like you just finished riding Bizarro (the roller coaster, but the supervillian may suffice here to), rather than fighting through the hordes of conformity for the glory of metal. Unlike a lot of bands (or their later albums) which seem to go out of their way to seem like they were out of their minds, System Of A Down (and by that I mean vocalist Serj Tankian) just seems to be able to nonchalantly make the lyrics seem like the rants of a madman more than any kind of message throughout the song, yet oddly enough, end up being unusually catchy. The best example of this would be the song "Sugar" (although any song could showcase the tendency of the lyrics to not make any sense due to their rant-like nature), which for all I can figure out, might be about some kind of drug induced act of murder against someone of the female sex (but I'm probably far off the mark there). The only real theme throughout the whole album just seems to be opposition to any and all institution out there, just for the sake of doing so. Message? Who needs a message when you have the masses deeply and profoundly confused?

As for the instrumentation, it's pretty simplistic but the greater whole of the band seems to be better than its individual parts. It's certainly not the slow, 3-chord nu-metal chug Korn plays, instead opting for a much faster, even frantic pace that still manages to have some sense of accessible melody if not to completely freak out the normals. There's also quite a bit of variety from the mostly not-quite-thrash-but-not-quite-nu-metal present throughout most of the album, as the album occasionally deviates from its usual craziness to more subtle twists on styles. The slow paced dark rock ballad of "Spiders", the Detroit City Rock-eque "DDevil", and the polka-waltz "Peephole" break up the monotony of the continuous frantic nature found throughout the album to good effect, keeping things fresh just in the right places.

The album may be perhaps a little too crazy as some people may not be able to take it seriously, while others may find the relative nontechnical aspect of the album bland. If you want something more pseudo-serious try Toxicity, and if you want something more technical, listen to Animals as Leaders or something, but if you're a fan of such zany bands as Unexpect, Diablo Swing Orchestra, or Stolen Babies, you might find this a personal gem in a place you never thought of looking.

Performance: 8
Songwriting: 8
Originality: 9
Production: 8


Band profile: System Of A Down
Album: System Of A Down


 


written by Paradox0 | 11.04.2012


Guest review disclaimer:
This is a guest review, which means it does not necessarily represent the point of view of the MS Staff.



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Troy Killjoy - 11.04.2012 at 19:11  
I always found most of SOAD's discography average at best - with the exception of Toxicity, which I enjoyed. I suppose their zany brand of alternative metal just never reached me on any kind of level.

The last paragraph probably explains best why I don't much care for them as a whole to be honest.
!J.O.O.E.! - 11.04.2012 at 19:52  
I think I was going to review this album at one point some time ago. Obviously that never happened. I probably would have scored it the same as you, even though this album is an easy 10 to me personally.

It is a totally crazy album, wickedly punky and rough around the edges with some of the best nonsense lyrics ever. Not to mention Serj was probably a his weird best vocally on this one. I started with Toxicity which I love, probably my first real metal album, but this became my favourite and still is. Great review.
Paradox0 - 11.04.2012 at 20:25  
Written by Troy Killjoy on 11.04.2012 at 19:11

The last paragraph probably explains best why I don't much care for them as a whole to be honest.


Funny that you mentioned that. I think I was inspired by a comment you made on Chrome Division's 3rd Round Knockout with the last paragraph.

Written by !J.O.O.E.! on 11.04.2012 at 19:52

I think I was going to review this album at one point some time ago. Obviously that never happened. I probably would have scored it the same as you, even though this album is an easy 10 to me personally.

personally I would have rated it a 9 (although I give out 10s VERY rarely), but the score is more of an "objective" score for the general population...that or I could have done the whole no score thing but that always bugs me, even if giving an album a quantitative score for something which is in reality qualitative is superficial at best, but I guess it works as some kind of way of tracking what you really digged at some point of time.
!J.O.O.E.! - 11.04.2012 at 20:28  
Written by Paradox0 on 11.04.2012 at 20:25

personally I would have rated it a 9 (although I give out 10s VERY rarely), but the score is more of an "objective" score for the general population...that or I could have done the whole no score thing but that always bugs me, even if giving an album a quantitative score for something which is in reality qualitative is superficial at best, but I guess it works as some kind of way of tracking what you really digged at some point of time.

If the site adhered to a rating system down to 1/10th on reviews like it does on personal album votes I might be more inclined to give out numbered scores but for me it's too arbitrary at the moment. What makes something get an 8.5 and not an 8.4 or 8.6? I agree about keeping tabs on what's good/what's not but that's why I like the personal votes (though a 0.5 increment addition would be nice) ;]
whatsacow - 12.04.2012 at 13:32  
In the Alternative Metal Scene, I'd rate SOAD my third favourite. First being Deftones (Who are in my top 3 favourite bands of all time), second: Tool (Who are in my top 20).
Cuca Beludo - 12.04.2012 at 22:53  
I wanna fuck my way to the garden
'Cause everyone needs, a mother...
FUCKER!


I enjoy this album a lot. One can't listen to it without getting confused... full of weird lines like the one above. I find it interesting how Serj can turn themes like politic and war into something so weird... Totally agree with the review
Unhealer - 16.04.2012 at 02:22  
Good review for a good album. I think you went too far with the avant-garde band comparisons though, these guys are FAR more accessible than those you mentioned. Just think of the mainstream success SOAD has opposed to those other bands that can be considered underground.
Paradox0 - 16.04.2012 at 07:27  
Written by Unhealer on 16.04.2012 at 02:22

Good review for a good album. I think you went too far with the avant-garde band comparisons though, these guys are FAR more accessible than those you mentioned. Just think of the mainstream success SOAD has opposed to those other bands that can be considered underground.


Those bands where the only bands which came to mind when trying to compare the absurdity of the album, if not to compare it to bands which tend to get shunned because they are a bit too wacky. I suppose I was thinking more in line with MS's general audience and users rather than the majority of people who had heard them when radio was relevant. This is Metalstorm, not alt-90s-rock-storm after all. To be honest though I can't think of any bands which have a similar sound to SOAD, especially their debut, except of course some of their side projects, but that's kind of cheating now isn't it?
Cynic Metalhead - 16.04.2012 at 09:00  
A great album but always will be shadowed by Toxicity. Insane lyrical Mario fun based Metal album which opens up his horizons pretty well..but still people won't forget synonymous of System of down with Toxicity.
deadone - 30.05.2014 at 07:40  
There's a few moments of really cool stuff on here ala Soil, War? and Spiders but a lot of it is beyond fucking irritating. There's zany and then there's just irritating. SOAD do irritating.

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