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System Of A Down: System Of A DownSystem Of A Down (1998)
Reviewer Rating: 4
Contributed by: seekseek
(others by this writer | submit your own)
I don't want to hear any fucking bitching about these guys not being "punk". It doesn't matter, because if you are reading this, it means 2 things. 1. An admin for this site found the review relevant enough to be here and 2. YOU CLICKED TO READ THE GOD DAMN REVIEW. With that being said, this is.
I don't want to hear any fucking bitching about these guys not being "punk". It doesn't matter, because if you are reading this, it means 2 things. 1. An admin for this site found the review relevant enough to be here and 2. YOU CLICKED TO READ THE GOD DAMN REVIEW. With that being said, this is a review for System of a Down’s first major label release, which is self-titled. System of a Down is really one of the only interesting bands being played on MTV these days. The only other two good bands that get MTV play are The Hives and White Strips. I suppose The Strokes aren’t terrible--they are better than the rest of the MTV bands--but all in all they are just a boarding school proto-punk rip-off. Before I get further sidetracked… this album is a bit better than SOAD’s current release “Toxicity”. I am getting a bit tired of doing long reviews, so I’ll keep this one short.
System of a Down blends thrashy guitars, wild beats, Biafra-ish frantic vocals, and great variety in each of their songs. The lyrics are very good on this album, though they may be a step up on “Toxicity”.
“Suit-Pee” starts out the album, and begins with some nifty guitars before going into a fairly fast tempo. Lyrics to the opening verse are “I had an out of body experience, the other day, her name was Jesus, and for her everyone cried, everyone cried, everyone cried”. The song then heads into the shouted chorus of “Try her philosophy, try her philosophy, try her philosophy, try. You die for her philosophy, die for her philosophy, die her philosophy die”. Then we hear another verse, followed by the chorus until a drastic change in the tempo were the song breaks down and the singer, Serj Tankian, softly sings “Lie naked on the floor and let the messiah go through our souls, lie naked on the floor and let the messiah go all through our souls”. The song then picks back up a little, with the lyrics “I want to fuck my way to the garden, cause everyone needs a mother fucker”. There is a bit more to the song, but you get the point. It’s catchy, definitely the kind of song you’d take home to mommy.
“Know” is a good song, but I think I shall just drop a few verses and let that be that.
“Sugar” is arguably the best song on the album, due both to the music and to the lyrics. The music is really to crazy to bother trying to explain in my current state, but rest assured that it is good. The song features multiple changes in tempo, guitar, and vocals. It is these changes, primarily in the style of the vocals, that makes SOAD such a great band. The lyrics to sugar are as follows:
“Suggestions” starts out soft and melancholy, with a verse of “Watching // From a post up high // From where you see the ships afar // From a well trained eye // The waves all keep on crashing by // If you are the light post // Then you own the working class // but if you want the answers”… then Serj absolutely shrieks out the verse’s last line of “You better give a piece of ass”. The next verse is “Warning // Post hypnotic suggestions // Running the ships ashore // The orange light that follows // Will soon proclaim itself a god // If you point your questions // The fog will surely chew you up”, and the last line of the verse, this time “You better get ready for the fire”, is again yelled out. The music then grows softer as it fades away, and things start to get odd (but in a good way). Serj’s voice changes to that of a… well—the character is a henchman for the powers that be, or literally some lackey of the lighthouse—but the sound, it is a bit hard to describe. Just think of how you’d sound with your balls hooked up to a car battery. With freshly recharged testes permeating the vocals, the song rounds out with “The ships are multiplying day after day sir // And they're coming close to the shore sir, shore sir // We need to evacuate the light post // It's all over, it's all over -- It's all over”.
“Spiders” was a single that got radio airplay and a video in the rotation on MTV. At the time I really didn’t care for the song, but in retrospect, it is actually a quite good, mellow song. The vocals are nothing short of beautiful and the music is complimentary to this. The music does pick up at some points of the song, but still maintains its mellow gloom. “Spiders” is proof that Serj Tankian can sing with a range that would impress Chris Cornell, and still be able to sing nearly as extreme and offbeat as Jello Biafra.
“DDevil” flies by with its wacky beat and brillian lyrics. The vocals, as in pretty much every song on the album, drive the song as an instrument in their own right.
“War” is a song of holy war, as the lyrics show as blatantly as can be. The opening verse is “Dark is the light, // The man you fight, // With all your prayers, incantations, // Running away, a trivial day, // Of judgment and deliverance, // To whom was sold, this bounty soul, // A gentile or a priest ? // Who victored over, the Seljuks, // When the holy land was taken”. The music flows quite well into the chorus of “We will fight the heathens”. Then we get a short verse; “Was it the riches, of the land, // Powers of bright darkness, // That lead the noble, to the East, // To fight the heathens” and another chorus before the music calms down and Serg does his evangelist impression (with the help of some background chanting). His holiness declares that “We must call upon our bright darkness // Beliefs, they're the bullets of the wicked, // One was written on the sword, // For you must enter a room to destroy it, // International security, // Call of the righteous man, // Needs a reason to kill man, // History teaches us so, // The reason he must attain, // Must be approved by his God, // His child, partisan brother of war, // Of war, we don't speak anymore” before the song goes into one final chorus.
Well I gave you the first 8 tracks. What more do you want? The remaining 5? Well, that isn’t going to happen, I said I wanted to keep this review short and it is already fucking long. OK, one more song. “Peephole” is a polka-metal hybrid. It is the second best song on the album, under “Sugar”—just above “War”, and that is all I am saying on the matter. I plead the 5th on grounds that I don’t wish to self-incriminate… just like an Enron employee.[Begin well-deserved plug]
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