Steal This Album gets a fair amount of bad press. A lot of people say that it is just an odds & ends album that they just put together for kicks, but I beg ot differ. I believe that it is a definite underrated classic and is as complete as some of their more well publicised efforts such as Toxicity and Mezmerize.
It starts out with the astonishing "Chic 'n' Stu", a furious, quirky metal tune that is seemingly about pizza toppings?! (No Toto, we're not reviewing U2 now) But is in fact about advertising and companies manipulating customers. In fact, Steal This Album is full of cryptic hidden messages and weird nonsense lyrics. For example, the epic "Mr. Jack" contains lines such as "is that the mousthwash in your eyes?" You may not know what the hell Serj and the boys are on about, but you can feel that they're on about something vital.
However, some of their (even) more political numbers are a lot more direct. For example "A.D.D.", a song that could easily fill up Twickenham Stadium is a mid tempo tune that can be harrowing and direct at different times. It has lyrics such as "the remainder is an unjustifiable, egotistical power struggle at the expense of the American Dream". That's definitely not cryptic or nonsense. That's DOWN. TO. EARTH.
Then there are my personal favourites. The amazingly ethereal "Ego Brain", "Roulette" and "Streamline" which have the right combination of thrash, elegance, weirdness and catchy hooks. They are the jewels in Steal This Album's crown.
There are songs on here that can and will be filed under "silly". "Pictures", "36" and "IEAIAIO" are the main ones, mostly because of the vocals. "Pictures" has Serj doing what I think is a chicken impression, "36" is just random and "AIEIAIO" has an Eastern European choir and nonsense lyrics. F**k The System is just well... I dunno. But this doesn't make them less top quality songs.
I love this album. The production is brilliant - it has a good balance of gritty and clean. These are also tracks that they couldn't fit on other albums (Toxicity?) or they weren't allowed to put some tracks on. So if these are the rejects, then imagine what the cream of the crop sound like!