Review Summary: Overall, System Of A Down created a masterpiece album here. Not only did it fit in perfectly with the time period, had about eight classic tracks, had fantastic vocals, and production was great as well. But it also kicked aside this "Nu-metal" thing
A lot of people don't listen to System Of A Down just because they are not sure of what genre they are, are they nu-metal? No, this all above Nu-metal. Nu-metal has catchiness that wears out in about a week and weak instrumentals sounding just a bit harder than your average punk band. How about just normal metal? Metal in the 80's was all about drugs, girls, and how hard you could play. But System was so much different because it had a political flavor added to it. So what do I classify System to be on this album? I say "Hard Rock" at it's finest.
"The Prison Song", is weird, experiment, and sounds like it just came out of the band's garage on the first recording. It's starting and then stopping beat is somewhat haunting to the listener and there are some rapping political lyrics in between. And if there is one song that defines this album there would be no better track. I didn't really like System Of A Down self-titled album because to me it lacked any risk-taking balls-out song. Well by the opener of "Toxicity" we see that this album is going to be a whole lot different. "Chop Suey!", might as well have been the simplest song ever written about suicide but the bands will to change beats and have the daring line of "Angels Deserve To Die", one of the best lines in today's metal. So if there were two songs to define this album I would choose these two songs listed above, The Prison Song for experimentation, and Chop Suey! for making simple songs work.
So we have two types of songs on this album the experimentive and the simple. And all of these songs are produce so they work perfectly. Don't believe what you heard there are no fillers on this album, which is why many people say this isn't a classic album. Most of these songs are simple though. The songs are just sang fast and played fast and have a nice level of catchiness to work swiftly. This also has SOAD's best lyrical work as it's not to political like the latest two albums released by the band. I will first cover what I thought were the experimentive tracks of the album. I think that "Psycho" was an experimentive song. What? I believe this because of the songs lack of structure the songs chorus was repeated at times that it really shouldn't have been repeated and somehow the band still makes it workout. "Aerials" is a song on would consider experimentive for many reasons on this album. It starts out with a little instrumental solo unlike many songs on this album and it is generally a soft song which SOAD usually don't do, and it's the longest song on the album.
Then there are the generic and simple songs like "Chop Suey!" that work because of musicianship and intensity. "Needles", is the first song to really portray this side of the band as there are many parts of the song that really don't go together but the lyrics and beat are so heavy and political that it makes up for it. The song also has an incredible chorus even though I think it's lyrics are not as well-written as the pre-chorus. "Deer Dance" is incredible, it really combines intensity and being experimentive together and has a breakdown that is just breathtaking. First of all the lyrics in the chorus are the most political on the album the most powerful, and meaningful as far as the album as a whole is concerned. And what are supposedly the so called interludes "X, Bounce, and Jet Pilot" are some of the most enjoyable and funny on first listen of the album. They are all very quick but aren't really reliant on instruments enough to consider them to be interludes. But I do think "Shimmy" is an interlude, nothing really has ever impressed me about this song. It's quick and repetitive and isn't really close to as catchy and political as the other songs on the album. "Forest", is incredible song that has a soft-loud chorus formula [really the only time this formula is used in the whole album], the riff in the pre-chorus really develops the chorus harder rocking riff perfectly and the lyrics in the song overall are brilliant and somewhat poetic. "Toxicity", is really sort of the album soft song, but it still remains unbelievable. The song achieves being political, catchy, while being a soft song unlike anything on the album except the closer and it has a great chorus and breakdown to go along with what I just stated. "ATWA", is kind of a soft-loud song but has the best surrounding lines of the album. The song gives us a acoustic starting beat with sing along vocals that have lots of emotion which sets up the rocking chorus perfectly, and even though it's typical System: "You Don't Care About How I Feel", this is one of the first songs off the album that I could consider classic without being really political.
The lead singers vocals on this album are just absolutely perfect. He doesn't really have that great of a voice to be completely honest but his vocals are kind of mixed to be sang lower to a harder beat, and it works out perfectly. This is unlike the other recording sessions of "Steal This Album!", were his vocals are distorted were you can't even hear what he is saying. Or "Mesmerize and Hypnotize" were his lyrics are to clear were his voice can become a hazard. Production is part of what makes this a classic album. Also is the songwriting for the time period. Think about when this album was released 9/01, there was a big tragedy that happened a week after this was released. So with it's political [Republican bashing] lyrics it really fit nicely with the time it was released. The other thing that made it work with the time period was the hard beats, after a while people got tired of hearing "God Bless America", and they wanted to hear something hard and rocking. What was the biggest new mainstream band that rock out? That would be System Of A Down and for a while in the period of '01 and '02 this drove System to be the biggest band in the world. Am I just putting this album as a classic because of it's sheer popularity? Not at all, I would consider at least 8 songs to have a classic rating on this album the most classic ratings I have given out since "Ok Computer". So this album didn't only fit in perfectly with the time period it was also pretty damn good.
There are a couple nagging weakness of this album [but they really don't mean a lot]. First off a lot of the songs kind of sound the same with the rocking out beat, I love this album for being a rocker but if you listen to this album with a person who is a big "Today Bands Suck" person they would notice this by like the 4th or 5th song but even they can enjoy this album. Another one is "Shimmy", what the hell? There are so many other songs that should get the attention that this song gets and just about all of the songs [including what people think of as the interludes] are a lot better than this song is. It's cool on first listen on the radio but after a while it just seems like a shorter version of "Chop Suey!" except it's not as well written, it's shorter, and doesn't have any beat changes at all. These are some of the little weakness of this classic album.
Overall, System Of A Down created a masterpiece album here. Not only did it fit in perfectly with the time period, had about eight classic tracks, had fantastic vocals, and production was great as well. But it also kicked aside this "Nu-metal" thing and showed the world that System should be considered [at least in my opinion] a great rock band. This is there best album and I don't think anything comes close to it for me.
8/14 tracks are classic.
It creates a dark atmosphere with poetic lyrics and a hard rocking beat,
This is the lead vocalist's least annoying vocals.
It fits in perfectly with the 9/11 time period.
Some tracks sound alike