Review Summary: Hello everyone. My name is Meelk, and today I will be reviewing System of a Down's critically acclaimed Toxicity. My opinions may differ greatly from the others presented, so bear with me as I explain my reasoning.
10 of 25 thought this review was well written
I didn't listen to Toxicity for the first time with any unrealistic expectations. With very few exceptions, mainstream rock (and that's what this is) follows a few critical guidelines. Number one: it's catchy and accessible, and number two: it's not very innovative or creative. And Toxicity certainly meets both of those standards. Sure, they use a sitar here and maybe growl a little there, but this was still an album designed with mainstream consumption in the forefront of the creator's minds. Now, don't misconcieve me, I don't despise Toxicity. Too often on this site people who review a two star album despise it, and maybe like one second of one song and think that justifies giving an album a two instead of a one. No, my friends, I do not adhere to that principal of grading. If an album gets a two, it has definite qualities that prevent it from getting a one. Toxicity is an album that is enjoyable on the first listen. The riffs are energetic if nothing else, the vocals are aggressive and enthusiastic, and the songs are coherent enough to make the listener bang their head or kick the baby or whatever other stereotypical activity they're supposed to do. I do acknowledge that it's well crafted for mainstream rock. Most of this genre is complete poop, and System of a Down to transcend their contemporaries in that sense. But when judged against their more accomplished peers, System of a Down's lack of depth and innovation begins to show.
What do I dislike about Toxicity? For one, I dislike how binary it is. The songs are all in 4/4 time with the exception of the title track. All tracks follow the standard song structure, and there are virtually no solos (the sitar noodling in Psycho barely counts). Rarely are dynamic changes utilized, an when they are, they sound rough and forced. Take a gander at ATWA if you don't believe me. The riff structure of this album is also somewhat annoying. As opposed to Mezmerize, the songs are all pretty much based on power chord riffs. I suppose they're pretty heavy and pretty infectious, but I would've liked to see more tremolo picking and other more complex riff techniques utilized. This leads to many of the riffs sounding uncomfortably similar, and creating an expanse of grey, indistinguishable instrumentals. The songs themselves are different enough to be easily distinguished, but as for guitar riffs, they're kind of bland. The drumming is a vastly overrated aspect of this album. As I previously stated, only one slightly unorthodox time signature is ever used, and the drummer seems to refrain from ever using true speed. His beats definitely don't follow the standard mainstream rock formula (note the excessive use of cymbal hits), but his style as a whole really isn't that energetic.
As for the songs themselves, I only really enjoy a few. The staccatoed riffing of X is a welcome change of pace, and the time signature uniqueness of the title tracks makes for a song that is pleasantly rough and hasty. That said, a number of songs are based on simple structures and riffs. Deer Dance is one of these, with a laughably simple riff structure and clean sections that fail to carry any air of energy. Science is very bland, and Psycho has lyrics that are dumb enough to preclude any enjoyment.
So overall, Toxicity is good for mainstream rock and bad overall. That's pretty much all she wrote.
Why on earth hasn't this been approved? It's been waiting in the damn queue for the past three days. If the mods are too lazy to either post it or tell me what's wrong with it, this idiotic review screening feature should be removed.
hey man! first comment that wasnt the reviewer! lol well anyways.....while i completely disagree with your opinions, i have to say that you got your point across with this very well written review (although a little short, but dont water it down in any way like some reviewers in an attempt to lengthen their reviews). I love this album Keep reviewing :thumb:
[quote=fool]this album is more than a 2 though. the way you describe it sounds more like 3-3.5.[/quote]
i touched on this in the review. my rating scale is a little bit harsher than yours, i suppose, but i definitely think this merits a two.This Message Edited On 06.07.07
don't particularly like this kind of music, and serj's voice is one of the most annoying of my generation. but still a brilliant first review, but try to not be so negative to random a$$wipes, even if they deserve it, which they do.
It sounds like you haven't listened to Chop Suey at all. That song is fantastic. Not all the songs are based on power chord riffs either. Quite a few of them aren't, and honestly, songs don't HAVE to have solos in them. I mean, it's a good review, but bits of it just seem off, tbh.
Playing in 4/4 isn't really a bad thing, it's a normal thing. Playing out of 4/4 just isn't very typical of mainstream bands, so it's praised when a band can do this.
Criticizing someone's guitar playing is pretty low, too. Nobody complains about Weezer playing only chords in their songs, do they?
Also, calling John a less-than-energetic drummer completely does him injustice. Many of his rhythms are way faster and complex than anything on FUSE or MTV then and now.This Message Edited On 12.21.08