This album was the first album from the California based Alt-Metal band System of a Down, and it was a real bolt out of the blue. Nothing else any other band had sounded quite like this album. While Sugar and Spiders first grabbed my attention, after picking up the album, I discovered it was so full of great songs that it's almost hard to believe. For some reason, this album did not recieve very much mainstream attention and recognition, although it certianly should have. This remains one of the best albums put out by any band in the nu-metal scene. I rate songs on a 1-10 scale. I don't give out easy tens like a lot of other reviewers on this site, a song really has to be almost flawless to recieve a ten. All right, here's a song by song review:
Suite-Pee: 8/10. This song opens with the drum, bass and vocal free guitar opening that many songs on this album utilize, namely Sugar. Twelve seconds into the song, the main riff kicks in with crushing force. When the vocals kick in, the instrumentals quiet down, and Serj begins to insult and mock Christianity full on, calling Jesus a girl and many other religious insults. Serj doesn't use the veiled metaphors that he uses on later albums, (kneeling roses dissapearing into Moses's dry mouth, anyone?) he brings his point hard, and gives you no chance to misunderstand his intention. Then the furiously fast chorus kicks in and the instrumentals get loud again with Serj yelling "try her philosophy!" repeatedly. One minute and two seconds into the song, the pace slows down suddenly, and Serj begins to growl out unintelligible words, and someone is screaming in a high voice in the background, probably Daron. I looked up the lyrics, and it appears that the low growling is "Die", and the voice in the background is "like a motherf**ker." One minute and eighteen seconds in, Serj begins to say "lie naked on the floor, let the messiah go all through our souls." After repeating this about three times, there is a small crescendo at about 1:45 and the "Die like a motherf**ker." More lyrics seemingly about the garden of eden are said while the song is still at a slow pace, then at 2:11 the main riff explodes again. Then the outro begins, with serj yelling something about the falling of Christ, and a drum roll cuts the song off. Overall, this song is way above average, a very good song. But the slow part in the middle is a bit long and uninteresting, and the verses aren't great. Basically, this song survives on the guitar line and the chorus. The guitar line is great on this song, at least four different lines are played throughout. Good album opener.
Know: 10/10. The drum opening to this song is ridiculous. A guitar begins at about eight seconds in, but it is really only complimenting John's excellent drumming. The vocals begin at about eighteen seconds, and are even more unintelligible than Suite-Pee's. At abought thirty two seconds, all the instruments cut off except for the quiet guitar, which plays for for seconds until the main riff kicks in. Oh my god, it is incredible. You can understand the lyrics here, Serj is speaking in metaphors, about land women and flying up to the sun. Wierd stuff, but who cares? The quiet verse/loud chorus is applied again here, only much better. A short guitar solo begins at 1:43, and lasts till about 1:55 where the song quiets down. The song then slowly and steadily crescendos until it reaches full volume with about fifteen seconds left for the crushing and amazing outro, with the chorus screamed full force and loud roaring in between words, I think from Serj also. It doesn't get much better than this, folks. Wow. This song is perfect, and I have listened to it more than anything else on this album by far. One of the top three songs on this album for sure.
Sugar: 9/10. The first single from System of a Down, and this song is the reason I picked up the album in the first place. The quiet verse/loud chorus is again applied, this time to the extreme. The verses feature minimal drumming and bass work, while the guitar is again in the very quiet mode. Serj begins to brag about his manliness, and sugar is repeated in the background every ten seconds or so. The guitar begins to go into a strange rhythm that I can only describe as the sound you hear when something is beginning to go into critical condition, the two different notes played repeatedly. Serj begins to scream, and the drumming picks up to build intensity going into the "Kombucha mushroom people" chorus. The second verse begins at 1:05. Serj gets pissed at about 1:22, and starts to scream unintelligibly. At 1:47, the guitar quiets down, and Serj begins to mumble about killing everyone. The famous outro begins now, with Serj saying "How do I feel? What do I say? F**k you! It all goes away." This line is repeated, with the song gradually crescendoing into a furious ending. This song is very near to the perfect rating, but It doesn't quite make it there. The drums and bass take a backseat to the guitar and vocals here. While the bass isn't that big a deal, I really like to hear John drum. This is certianly a song you will enjoy, and a very good effort by SOAD
Suggestions: 8/10. This song opens with a: Gasp! Acoustic guitar! With all the intensity built up from Sugar, you would expect for the intensity to keep going, but that brief twelve second acoustic opening calms you down and gets you ready for the wierd and unlike anything else journey that is Suggestions. The guitar is again quiet, but not in the same way of the first three songs. Serj is talking about ships coming to shore, and people watching from lifeposts. Very wierd, creepy, and cool. There is a brief crescendo, and it builds into Serj screaming "If you want the answers, you better give a piece of a$$!." The chorus begins, very heavy again to contrast the relatively quiet verse. The chorus quickly decrescendos into a second chorus, almost the same as the first except for the lyrics. The chorus begins again, but instead of decrescendoing again at the end, Serj lets loose with an Indian-like battle cry and the intensity continues. The guitar continues for about fifteen seconds with no lyrics, and then an acoustic guitar line kicks in again, very similar to the opener. Instead of stopping suddenly, this one just fades away into nothingness while a new guitar line kicks in, slower but more powerful. This one continues for a short while, then a new one kicks in, with a screeching sound at the end of each riff. The intensity builds up again at 1:58, and then everything quiets down and someone is yelling in a wierd munchkin voice about evacuating the shore. Then someone in a normal voice is saying "It's all over" then lets loose with a monstrous scream and the guitar gets loud again. Then everything continues at a loud pace until about 2:30, then everything stops playing, and the guitar gradually fades out, getting you prepped for the masterpiece Spiders. This song was very good, but a little to wierd in some spots. Wierd munchkin voices and acoustic guitar solos threw me off a bit. But overall, this song is one of the more original songs on this album, and by no means bad.
Spiders: 10/10. An absolute masterpiece. This song is really quiet, and easy to play, but it is amazing in a way no other song on this CD is. The vocals begin at about fifteen seconds in, and are very spooky and touching, although they don't make a whole lot of sense. The song continues this way until 0:45, where the mindblowing chorus starts. The guitar is pretty loud on this part, although nowhere near the level of the first four songs. A brief, slow guitar solo separates the two parts of the chorus. The second part of the chorus fades slowly into the second verse. This verse is a bit louder than the first. Different melodies are added and taken away from the mix, and the lyrics only get stranger, yet no less creepy. At about 1:45, the chorus begins again. After the chorus ends, the song doesn't quiet down again, a rather long guitar bridge begins, with a very good driving bass line. Serj begins to shout "through my head!" again at 2:32. After this, the song only picks up in volume. Serj gets stuck on the word "No" and echoes the "o" for about ten seconds, then at 2:58 screams "Before you know!" The song rapidly decrescendos again. The drums take a backseat again, as the quiet outro begins. The vocals get a bit louder at the last second, but that doesn't amount to much.
Ddevil: 5/10. I can't give you a in-depth journey through the song, because I just don't listen to this song that much. Simplistic vocals that I could write, a rather fast guitar is about all this song has to offer. Can't get much worse from a great band like System of a Down, they were probably all smokin reefa when they wrote this.
Soil: 7/10. This song, although pretty good, can't match the first five. The guitar riff is not as nu-metaly as most of the other songs, it sounds more pure and less sludgy. So if you like that stuff, this is the song for you. The verse is nearly unintelligible, and the words are so nonsensical you probably wouldn't get them anyway. Yes, this song is about suicide, but we probably only understand this because of the pretty obvious line "blew of his own motherf**kin head." This song goes verse-chorus-verse-chorus, and then the bridge starts. The chorus is pretty fast and good, but the verses are lacking. Before the bridge, Serj is yelling about evil in the skin. Then comes the bridge, and more shrieking about evil in the skin. Then comes a nice light guitar part, and you're thinking the song is about to fade out. Wrong! All the instrumental's are turned off, and Serj yells at the top of his lungs "why the f**k did you take him away from us you motherf**ker!?" The main riff kicks in again after that, and the song ends. Not the best, not the worst. Cool riffs in the chorus, but the bridge is too long, and not enough metal sounding. It sounds like some different of genre of music altogether at some points.
War?: 9/10. This song is spectacular, one of the top five probably. There is great riffage and spectacular yelling in the first minute and a half of the song, on the quality level of Know here people. Then everything quiets down, and Serj begins to rationalize with the listener about how stupid war is, and how stupid it sound when put in context. Really good message. Then, at 2:08, Serj says "We don't speak anymore of war," the guitar and vocals gradually crescendo while repeating that same line into the outro chorus of "we will fight the heathens!" Then the song ends. It feels like System cut short a real epic masterpiece here. This song could, and probably should have been four minutes or more. I just can't get enough of that chorus. Oh well, I guess. Great song.
Mind: 6/10. Wierd s**t right here. A really, really long opening part with a great bass. Then the song gets really loud for about four minutes, and switches around so much that it never sounds the same twice. It's really loud and Serj is pissed about something. "mutually molested children of a mother" gets repeated a lot in this song. Also, the sound of nails on a blackboard gets thrown into the mix somewhere. Then another long bass outro ends the song. Really, really strange, but not a horrible song.
Peephole: 9/10. another good one. A long opening where the actual song is getting played in the far distance. In this song, the verses have a wierd tuba noise, but the choruses are so spectacular they make up for that. With simple riffing Daron somehow manages to create on e of the most bone-crushingly sweet choruses on the album. A long guitar solo begins at 3:03, and then it just flows into one last chorus, before the song is cut short by a turntable being twisted.
CUBErt: 8/10. Too short, but the chorus and the last twenty seconds are spectacular. That's pretty much all there is to say about this song right there in one second. A fun listen.
Darts: 6/10. This song is also wierd, almost like a shorter mind. The vocals are strange, and Serj strains his voice way too much. There is a sweet opening riff though. The vocals are just too wierd, and the song can't pull it's weight compared to the rest. It seems like System tried to put on a lot of wierdness to cover up the fact that this song might be a filler.
P.L.U.C.K.: 10/10. This song is monstrously heavy. The intro doesn't get you ready for the bone crunching guitar lines. Serj is speaking about the Armenian Genocide on this song, and it is a really good subject for the band. The famous "Die" and "Why" riffs are obviously two of the highlights of this song. Slow verses, but the choruses move at a furious speed unlike anything else on this album. There is a really good slow section at about 1:52. After that there are four consecutive "Die" riffs, which might be the best part of the song, followed by a continuous riff that is no less heavy. Then comes the heaviest part, screaming about retribution and revolution, before one last slow part closes this masterpiece up. The lyrics "System of a Down" are said at the end. How much cooler could this get, really?
Well, there you have it. A classic album from the Californain Alt-metalists.
Sorry I had to close up kind of quick, but I was running out of time. You might think some of my ratings are kind of tough, but don't take it like that, I just consider songs ratings differently than many people. A seven on my scale might be a nine on somebody elses. Great album, System of a Down.