November 16, 2001

The Real New Metal

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Unlike many of today’s bands who force listeners to sit through 40 minutes of crap by producing one or two solid radio hits, System of a Down’s entire sophomore effort is satisfying. It has made quite an impact since its release in early September, recently going platinum. With material bound to impress newcomers, while still producing enough insanity to please long-time fans, Toxicity is definitely an album you won’t want to miss.

Beginning on a good hard note, the opening track, “Prison Song,” immediately shows System’s political slant. Unlike the somewhat preachy lyrics of some political bands they have been compared to, lead singer Serj Tankian’s rant about U.S. drug policy is almost amusing, and definitely not hard to swallow.

Lyrically, and sometimes even musically, the songs appear to be a mish-mash of unrelated statements and styles. System of a Down is known for its disregard for traditional structure and convention, but somehow their sound works beautifully. Take, for example, the first single, “Chop Suey!” The song shifts from calm to frantic, and from soothingly melodic to harshly aggressive, covering a vast amount of musical ground. Don’t bother interpreting Tankian’s nonsensical lyrics; you will soon find they really don’t matter.

Toxicity continues without taking a breath, with a nice mix of standard length tracks full of variety, as well as very short, aggressive songs.