System of a Down Toxicity : Album Review

System of a Down Toxicity

Photo: By Carlos Varela (http://www.flickr.com/photos/c32/6222402582/) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

System of A Down’s Toxicity albums has everything you ever wished for but were too afraid to conceive. And this album, Toxicity, either has you shaking in hypnotic excitement or cringing from the almost-unlistenable sonic chaos. System of A Down made their entry into the heavy metal and nu-metal world (frankly, they may as well invent a genre for themselves) with their unusual fusion of theatrical vocals, poetic lyrics, grinding guitar and disjointed verses.

Frontman Serj Tankian’s smoothly versatile vocals did little to comfort the audience for the shock from his demonic growls. Guitarist Daron Malakian’sspine-tingling backing vocals and harmonization doesn’t really help, either. Combining these two with Shavo Odadjian’s heart-pumping bass and John Dolmayan’s ever-changing tempos, you get a signature unorthodox and downright unearthly sound only possible with System of A Down. Exactly why we love them, right?

System of A Down’s lyrics on this album are downright cryptic (aren’t they always). However, you can still discern certain political and social themes such as in Prison Song, ATWA and Aerials. Chop Suey, one of the band’s signature songs, adds something demonic and morbid to the set with a mysteriously ominous set of lyrics: 

Toxicity is one of the least mainstream albums by System of A Down, acting like a test of their fans’ tolerance for unorthodoxy. Needless to say, the test was a huge success. Fans went crazy from one track to another, unraveling from one pleasant (or not) surprise to another. Toxicity is simply a strangely creative concoction that just doesn’t get boring. It goes from angry dissonance in Prison Song to even more chaos in “Jet Pilot,” and “X,” then to slightly more organized chaos in “Chop Suey.” The deceptively melancholic and melodic ATWA does little to prepare you for the explosion of emotions in Science. Shimmy sounds like an ancient Egyptian folk song that messes with your head to make you realize the indoctrination subjugating the nation.

The song that bears the name of the album, Toxicity, is a perfect balance between gorgeous growling guitars, schizoid bellows and adrenaline-inducing sick beats. Psycho makes your blood boil only to make you swell up with disbelief at a strangely melancholic and mesmerizing guitar outro. Aerials then wraps up the party with a solid, memorable and beautiful guitar riff.

 Final words

The classically unclassifiable System of A Down, doesn’t spare their faithful audience: with Toxicity, they have proven that they can produce any kind of music, provoke any nasty emotion, and just never get boring.

System of a Down Toxicity

Tracklist

  1. Prison Song
  2. Needles
  3. Deer Dance
  4. Jet Pilot
  5. X
  6. Chop Suey!
  7. Bounce
  8. Forest
  9. ATWA
  10. Science
  11. Shimmy
  12. Toxicity
  13. Psycho
  14. Aerials

Written by Gin 

System of a Down Toxicity : Album Reviewarticle published on Classic RockHistory.com© 2022

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