System of a Down
Steal This Album!


4.5
superb

Review

by John weathered old reviewer Hanson STAFF
August 19th, 2006 | 488 replies | 44,983 views


Release Date: 2002 | Tracklist


Steal This Album can instead be described as System of a Down’s most surprisingly triumphant album. There are dozens of stories concerning what this album is, whether it be b-sides, the first cut of Toxicity, or hell, mostly old demos re-recorded or in their original form. I will not bother dealing with any of that bullshit. I’m really only here to convince you to listen to this album.

The most simple reason you should is because it really does take nearly every single idea System have ever thought up, and make something great out of it. You know the near-rapping vocals Serj occasionally likes to do? I-E-A-I-A-I-O features some of the most tongue twisting System moments. You know those emotional, epic moments System like to have occasionally? Oh wait, I-E-A-I-A-I-O has that too. Unlike other releases, where System gets too wrapped up in being too similar throughout a song or throwing ideas together constantly with varied results, Steal This Album! accomplishes the goal of what seems to be every System album: a group of songs that fit, and have four times the amount of ideas than the track number would suggest.

Part of the reason is that, per song, it’s the shortest System album date. With the songs clocking in at under 3 minutes each, there is little room for System to repeat itself. Even the long songs like Mr. Jack don’t drone on, rather expand upon the original sound as it progresses rather than repeat itself for four minutes. Then again, there are songs like Pictures that start off slow, and then suddenly explode into greatness out of nowhere. They create a perfect balance of songs, ranging from said explosions, to charging tunes like 36 (far under-appreciated, as it’s a fun romp through nothing in particular. Make sense? Good.), the unfolding tunes, and then the groovy, traditional System of a Down tunes ike Innervision.

The variety of the album is arguably enough to put them at the top of their careers, originality wise. While songs may sound the same upon first listen, it wont take very long for each song to gain its own sense of being on you. The definition of a grower, Steal This Album takes it’s occasional awkwardness and throws it at your face, forcing you to accept its goodness. A.D.D. is not a fun song in any sense of the word; in fact, it’s likely to be one of the most dark and depressing songs they’ve ever written. However, it’s just so breathtakingly melancholy, you can’t help but appreciate it. On the opposite end is F**k the System, something of a play of words. Perhaps the most silly song they’ve ever written, it’s almost too dumb to even bother with. However, once you begin to notice the little intricacies, such as Serj’s beat-boxing, you can’t help but just be in awe at the strange pieces they’ve managed to string together here.

The coup de grace of the album is it’s final songs. If there’s one issue that previous and those albums to come have/had, is that there is rarely a section of the album that absolutely knocks you off your feet. The final six songs on STA! Do, in fact, sweep me off my laurels. The fact that 4 of them are relationship songs be damned, it’s all in the bank for System by the time you realize that. Highway Song is simple and yet an incredibly effective way to begin to close out the album, while Roulette is the perfect acoustic ballad. Ego Brain and Streamline are epic in design, and the vocal harmonies in the second verse of Streamline encapsulates how absolutely, wretchedly beautiful that song, and to an extent, the album as a whole, is.

Steal This Album! is far from what you expect it to be. It’s an incredible rush with every song; each being a small jewel that, while it really doesn’t give the album as a whole any extra impact, gives each song a sublime sense of individuality. In fact, the only thing I can think of that hurts the album is that the songs don’t exactly fit together. Their individual strength goes far beyond making up for that, however, and also gives the album the charm and uniqueness it showcases. As an album, it’s still excellent, and well worth a listen. As a collection of songs, it’s perhaps the best of their entire careers. It comes close to touching System of a Down, in fact, but only misses due to the fact that Mind still totally owns anything on this album.



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user ratings (2686)
Chart.
3.6
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other reviews of this album
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Comments:Add a Comment 
Iluvatar
Staff Reviewer
August 19th 2006



16083 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I decided to do a short, to the point review of this, as my next one will probably be around 2 billion words long.

Bron-Yr-Aur
August 19th 2006



4405 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Good review, though I must admit I was hoping for an epic sort of review.

Still, I pretty much agree with everything you said, though I personally don't see anything charming about 36, especially when placed next to Pictures.

Intransit
August 19th 2006



2797 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

The first system album I ever bought, although I think my brother ruined the disc. No matter, Ill give it a listen tonight and see if its still got those moments I remember in middle school. Brings back memories /feels nostalgic.

Anywho, good review as per usual

RazorBladeLight
August 19th 2006



258 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Best system album YEAH!!!!
Sorry, whether they were demos, b-sides, f-sides, re-recordings, hardworked songs, or what not, this is my favorite system album. well actually i can't say best but at least from their first three (i still haven't heard hypnotize/mezmorize and am not planning to either).

francesfarmer
August 19th 2006



1477 Comments


Class-A review, and the only System album I can still listen to.

barosjn
August 19th 2006



501 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Good review. The only thing I disagree on is your statement that the songs don't fit together. Even though Steal This Album! is a collection of b-sides, the songs are ordered in a way that they flow well (the greatest example of this is "36", "Pictures", and "Highway Song", because all three tracks played in that order just feel like one big song).

Onewaytrip2hell
August 19th 2006



508 Comments


Good review./votesThis Message Edited On 08.19.06

"Freshly Baked"
August 19th 2006



583 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I never got this album. It just always bored me. I should check it out again.

Acey
August 19th 2006



2578 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

good work
/votes, and Cocaine, it is one of their more enjoyable albums IMO

Onewaytrip2hell
August 19th 2006



508 Comments


Uh, so basically, you don't know it enough to remember how it is, or like it, but at the same time, you DO like it and DO know it enough to rate it a 3?...

The Jungler
August 19th 2006



4827 Comments


Boom! is all I've heard off this.

I may get this (Hidden Meaning: I'll listen to it on Rhapsody) after I listen to their s/t.

Blindguardian
August 19th 2006



186 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Mr Jack and eGo bRAIN are teh sexc

omfg and so is rouletteThis Message Edited On 08.20.06

Acey
August 19th 2006



2578 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

the whole album is the ****. one of the better albums of the DecadeThis Message Edited On 08.20.06

Iluvatar
Staff Reviewer
August 19th 2006



16083 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Yet you give it a 3?
The album is rather splendiferous though seriously.

Acey
August 19th 2006



2578 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

i have debated that i like the meaning behind Mezmerize/Hypnotize better than this, but for any band's Creativity, this band blows anything out of the water when it comes to being creative

Lunarfall
September 15th 2006



3179 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

What's with the sudden love for this album?
All the songs after IEAIAO aren't very good IMO except for F*** the System, Roulette and Streamline. Nuguns and Bubbles aren't so good either.
If they put some of the better songs on here and replaced them with some of the bad songs on Toxicity, we could have an incredibly good album.

This Message Edited On 09.15.06

JumpTheF**kUp
December 7th 2006



2710 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I'll say it again Mr Hanson, I love your work. Mr Jack is a great song. Listen to it while you drive in the dark. Scary stuff. This album is excellent, but not better than their S/T and Toxicity in my opinion. Still, better than the shitfests, Hypnotize/Mezmerize.

Altmer
March 12th 2007



5652 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

This is a really cool album. I like System overall, and Toxicity is a modern metal classic, but this comes close. Inner Vision, EGO BRAIN, Streamline, Roulette... seriously. This album rocks. I should listen to it more often. ;)

LaVozDormida
March 12th 2007



75 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I prefer this one over Toxicity, although Toxicity is pretty sick too.

WARPATH_88
March 13th 2007



514 Comments


These guys really bother me. Everyone likes them but I think they suck.



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