Review #180: (Classic Album) System Of A Down – Toxicity

Artist – System Of A Down
Album – Toxicity (2001)

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System Of A Down (SOAD) are a rock band band from California, USA. The band formed in 1998 and consist of members; Serj Tankian – vocals/keys, Daron Malakian – vocals/guitar, Shavo Odadjian – bass and John Dolmayan – drums. SOAD gained popularity through a string of chart topping albums, hit singles (toxicity, Chop Suey, B.Y.O.B) and chaotic tours with artists such as Placebo, Slipknot, Rammstein and The Mars Volta. In 2006 the band went on hiatus, Serj going solo and releasing the critically acclaimed ‘Eject The Dead’, Malakian forming the band Scars On Broadway and Odadjian performing with artists such as George Clinton and RZA. In 2010 the band reformed, performing at numerous festivals over the years and embarking on a tour 2015.

I think the best way to describe Toxicity and System Of  A Down in general is controlled chaos. Toxicity features from the outset riffs stopping and starting, a range of odd sung, screamed, squealed, rapped? vocal performances and this truly exhaustive pace that comes from the rhythm section. The controlled part of the “controlled chaos” comes from how tight and expertly played each members performances are, tempo shifts instantly, riffs/melodies/solos moving all over the neck, yet the band deliver these with ease, along with ferocity and chaos. Amongst many other popular songs, SOAD’s two most well known tracks feature on this album, Toxicity and Chop Suey. These two songs, which deliver such odd dynamics in relation to shifting floaty/calm sections to rapid/aggressive sections instantaneously, showcase how memorable Serj’s lyrics/delivery, Shavo’s basslines, Daron’s riffs and John’s fills are (especially in regards to the intros). Songs such as ‘Prison Song’ showcase System’s protest side, similar to RATM, in this instance informing the listener through spoken moments how bloated and corrupt America’s policing/prison system has become. System Of A Down’s unique and exotic sound throughout ‘Toxicity’ comes from their choice of melodies and harmonies, obviously inspired by the bands Armenian side and the scales which are prevalent in this culture, check out the last two tracks ‘Aerials’ and ‘Arto’ for this style.

‘Toxicity’ is a must listen for any rock/metal fan. The album showcases how to write meaningful/poignant songs, which are interesting musically, rile aggression up in the listener, yet still manage to grasp the catchy/memorable side of music, to make them one of rock/metals most influential figures.

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