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Pop - Released January 1, 2005 | Columbia

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Rock - Released November 6, 2020 | American - Columbia

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Metal - Released March 8, 2002 | Columbia

System of a Down's 1998 debut was initially overlooked by the mainstream hard rock audience, as well as the specialized press. But heavy metal cognoscenti in both camps quickly realized that in their hands was a potentially crucial stepping stone for the future development of heavy metal. Sure enough, so challenging and groundbreaking were its contents that the album soared over most everyone's unsuspecting heads, its eventual gold sales status only achieved via Columbia Records' massive promotional muscle and nearly three years of intensive touring on the band's part. Consequently, early believers were pleasantly surprised when 2001's long awaited follow-up, Toxicity met with instant popular acceptance, skyrocketing up the charts toward multi-platinum success. Yet, for the most part, it also managed to retained SOAD's unorthodox signature sound: so-called "nu-metal" uniquely infused with remarkable originality, including angular riffs, jagged rhythms, and oblique lyrics splattered all over the place. Like its predecessor, Toxicity seems utterly chaotic upon first listen, but things quickly begin falling into place, thanks to a number of small refinements, not least of which is a more generous melody, obviously pre-meditated, but rarely overdone. In turn, this immediacy greatly improved the album's chances at radio -- case in point, first single "Chop Suey!," a track so potent not even September 11, nor mainstream radio's ensuing self-imposed, politically correct attempt at self-censorship, could tear from the airwaves (despite its none-too-discreet lyrics about suicide), the song's surprising success was reminiscent of another left-field hit from a decade earlier, Faith No More's "Epic" (hear its piano-led outro for proof). And sure enough, from the unexpected false starts of "Prison Song" to the relatively mellow conclusion, the band's heightened commercial sensibility continues to joust with their inherently quirky songwriting. The excellent title track, "Forest," and "Science" are among the most accessible standouts from an incredibly diverse set, the likes of which SOAD's inferior nu-metal peers could only hope to emulate. Lyrically, it's simply no contest. Whether tackling typical rock subject matter like drug abuse ("Needles") and groupies ("Psycho"), or embarking on inscrutable Dadaist gems like "Jet Pilot" and "Shimmy," co-songwriters Daron Malakian and Serj Tankain sound like are the bastard children of Frank Zappa and Slayer. And while sub-Rage Against the Machine political invective (unfairly attributed to their Armenian heritage) remains an integral part of the band's creative makeup (e.g. "Deer Dance," "Atwa"), Toxicity's approach is much more cautious in this regard than that of their incendiary debut. In conclusion, when a band takes this many left turns, you'd expect them to start going in circles sooner rather than later, but this is not the case with System of a Down. Hands down one of 2001's top metal releases, Toxicity may well prove to be a lasting heavy metal classic to boot. © Eduardo Rivadavia /TiVo
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Metal - Released October 4, 2001 | Columbia

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Metal - Released June 29, 1998 | American

System of a Down's self-titled major-label debut finds the Los Angeles band consolidating its gothic alt-metal, sharpening its deadly riffs, strengthening its brutal rhythms, and adding muscle to its attack. The band differentiates itself from the legions of Southern Californian alt-metalheads by emphasizing its Armenian musical heritage, which gives the music an eerie, otherworldly quality. Part of the success of System of a Down lies with producer Rick Rubin, who helps give the band focus, but ultimately the record works because of the band itself, since they have contributed a set of strong songs that illustrates this is a band that relies on smarts as well as sound. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Pop/Rock - Released November 22, 2005 | American - Columbia

It wasn't a lie when System of a Down said the packaging for Mezmerize and Hypnotize would slot together. Released in November 2005, roughly six months after its counterpart, Hypnotize does indeed feature a tri-fold design. But the extra cardboard slotting's a little extraneous, as are some of the sonic parts on both albums. Truth is the motor for System's spazzy, modernist thrash. It drives the boiling rage in Hypnotize's "Attack," "Stealing Society," and "U-Fig"; on "Holy Mountain," it inspires SOAD to transform the sad facts of genocide into the album's most vicious, powerful, and arresting moment. Of course, truth also drives SOAD to make passionate, if slightly screwy, decisions: Serj Tankian's ADD sputter of "eat 'em eat 'em eat 'em eat 'em" and "banana banana banana terracotta" on Hypnotize; Mezmerize's detour into celebrity baseball game outtakes on "Old School Hollywood." These moments are head-scratchers, no doubt, but they're integral to the experience -- System of a Down confound and irritate even as they rock. And it's precisely because of that weird aggression/aggravation dynamic that Mezmerize/Hypnotize is as strong a concept/double album as metal can offer in 2005. © Johnny Loftus /TiVo
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Pop/Rock - Released May 17, 2005 | American - Columbia

Adjectives like "ambitious," "jagged," and "startling" have always defined System of a Down, and their third official full-length is no different. Prerelease, the band described Mezmerize as being the first part -- the first side -- of what's essentially a double album. The records' packaging would even slot together, making the eventual Mezmerize/Hypnotize whole. Appropriately then, there's an intro to System's first new material since 2001's brilliant Toxicity. On "Soldier Side" Daron Malakian and Serj Tankian harmonize as they do throughout the record, and Malakian's guitar has a mournful, Eastern air. But it's just a lull before "B.Y.O.B.," a thrash assault pierced with rabid and incredulous screams. "Why do they always send the poor?" Suddenly the gears switch, and the song stomps in crunchy half-time as its lyrics riff with a sick grin on cultural ignorance. The government's lying, System's saying, but "Blast off!/It's party time." The vocal exploration between Tankian and Malakian on Mezmerize is a thrill -- they spur each other on like a two-headed hardcore hero. Their intermingling voices make "Cigaro" more aggressive, frantic, operatic, and totally bananas; they'd be triumphant over the break in "Violent Pornography" if they weren't spitting out lines like "Choking chicks and sodomy." The fantastic "Pornography" is a rusty shiv of absurdity, another example of System's ability to effectively skewer society with little more than hyper guitar, blistering percussion, and weird turns of phrase. Their volatile mix of righteousness, wordiness, odd meters, and thrash has balanced System's activism since their self-titled debut, making them "unique heavy music" over the much more problematic "unique, heavily political music." And Mezmerize doesn't fail to be unique. "Old School Hollywood" essays the bizarre experience of a celebrity baseball game ("Tony Danza cuts in line!") over keyboard effects from "Beat It" and a brutally simplistic rhythm, "This Cocaine Makes Me Feel Like I'm on This Song" is more twisted-tongue histrionics and explosive playing, and Tankian and Malakian's harmonies are the catalyst (again!) for making "Revenga" a truly feral epic. System of a Down -- what's another adjective for "awesome"? © Johnny Loftus /TiVo
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Rock - Released November 26, 2002 | American - Columbia

In most cases, bands put out these odds and sods collections for die-hard fans, to fulfill a record deal, or to stall while they're taking seven years to record a follow-up. Steal This Album!, on the other hand, definitely doesnot fit any of those ideals. First, it's almost impossible to think of this as an "outtakes" record. System of a Down has managed to make tracks from a seven-year period sound cohesive without having to embellish or sacrifice. Some might argue that maybe they're just treading water. Not true. If System proved anything with 2001's Toxicity, it's that they're one of the few breaths of fresh air out there in mainstream metal land. This collection is no different, and with its amazing pacing, it's hard to not be moved by what this band can do. Secondly, Steal This Album! has everything that a "normal" album release would have; it's heavy without being a burden, political without being condescending, and in some cases, downright beautiful. It's been mentioned that this is the link to what they've done and what they're moving towards. If that turns out to be true, the next one should be a monster. © Chris True /TiVo
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Metal - Released September 4, 2001 | American - Columbia

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Pop - Released June 30, 1998 | Epic

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Rock - Released June 30, 1998 | American

System of a Down's self-titled major-label debut finds the Los Angeles band consolidating its gothic alt-metal, sharpening its deadly riffs, strengthening its brutal rhythms, and adding muscle to its attack. The band differentiates itself from the legions of Southern Californian alt-metalheads by emphasizing its Armenian musical heritage, which gives the music an eerie, otherworldly quality. Part of the success of System of a Down lies with producer Rick Rubin, who helps give the band focus, but ultimately the record works because of the band itself, since they have contributed a set of strong songs that illustrates this is a band that relies on smarts as well as sound. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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CD€14.49

Rock - Released November 26, 2002 | American - Columbia

In most cases, bands put out these odds and sods collections for die-hard fans, to fulfill a record deal, or to stall while they're taking seven years to record a follow-up. Steal This Album!, on the other hand, definitely doesnot fit any of those ideals. First, it's almost impossible to think of this as an "outtakes" record. System of a Down has managed to make tracks from a seven-year period sound cohesive without having to embellish or sacrifice. Some might argue that maybe they're just treading water. Not true. If System proved anything with 2001's Toxicity, it's that they're one of the few breaths of fresh air out there in mainstream metal land. This collection is no different, and with its amazing pacing, it's hard to not be moved by what this band can do. Secondly, Steal This Album! has everything that a "normal" album release would have; it's heavy without being a burden, political without being condescending, and in some cases, downright beautiful. It's been mentioned that this is the link to what they've done and what they're moving towards. If that turns out to be true, the next one should be a monster. © Chris True /TiVo
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Rock - Released November 22, 2005 | American - Columbia

It wasn't a lie when System of a Down said the packaging for Mezmerize and Hypnotize would slot together. Released in November 2005, roughly six months after its counterpart, Hypnotize does indeed feature a tri-fold design. But the extra cardboard slotting's a little extraneous, as are some of the sonic parts on both albums. Truth is the motor for System's spazzy, modernist thrash. It drives the boiling rage in Hypnotize's "Attack," "Stealing Society," and "U-Fig"; on "Holy Mountain," it inspires SOAD to transform the sad facts of genocide into the album's most vicious, powerful, and arresting moment. Of course, truth also drives SOAD to make passionate, if slightly screwy, decisions: Serj Tankian's ADD sputter of "eat 'em eat 'em eat 'em eat 'em" and "banana banana banana terracotta" on Hypnotize; Mezmerize's detour into celebrity baseball game outtakes on "Old School Hollywood." These moments are head-scratchers, no doubt, but they're integral to the experience -- System of a Down confound and irritate even as they rock. And it's precisely because of that weird aggression/aggravation dynamic that Mezmerize/Hypnotize is as strong a concept/double album as metal can offer in 2005. © Johnny Loftus /TiVo
From
CD€14.49

Pop - Released May 17, 2005 | American - Columbia

Adjectives like "ambitious," "jagged," and "startling" have always defined System of a Down, and their third official full-length is no different. Prerelease, the band described Mezmerize as being the first part -- the first side -- of what's essentially a double album. The records' packaging would even slot together, making the eventual Mezmerize/Hypnotize whole. Appropriately then, there's an intro to System's first new material since 2001's brilliant Toxicity. On "Soldier Side" Daron Malakian and Serj Tankian harmonize as they do throughout the record, and Malakian's guitar has a mournful, Eastern air. But it's just a lull before "B.Y.O.B.," a thrash assault pierced with rabid and incredulous screams. "Why do they always send the poor?" Suddenly the gears switch, and the song stomps in crunchy half-time as its lyrics riff with a sick grin on cultural ignorance. The government's lying, System's saying, but "Blast off!/It's party time." The vocal exploration between Tankian and Malakian on Mezmerize is a thrill -- they spur each other on like a two-headed hardcore hero. Their intermingling voices make "Cigaro" more aggressive, frantic, operatic, and totally bananas; they'd be triumphant over the break in "Violent Pornography" if they weren't spitting out lines like "Choking chicks and sodomy." The fantastic "Pornography" is a rusty shiv of absurdity, another example of System's ability to effectively skewer society with little more than hyper guitar, blistering percussion, and weird turns of phrase. Their volatile mix of righteousness, wordiness, odd meters, and thrash has balanced System's activism since their self-titled debut, making them "unique heavy music" over the much more problematic "unique, heavily political music." And Mezmerize doesn't fail to be unique. "Old School Hollywood" essays the bizarre experience of a celebrity baseball game ("Tony Danza cuts in line!") over keyboard effects from "Beat It" and a brutally simplistic rhythm, "This Cocaine Makes Me Feel Like I'm on This Song" is more twisted-tongue histrionics and explosive playing, and Tankian and Malakian's harmonies are the catalyst (again!) for making "Revenga" a truly feral epic. System of a Down -- what's another adjective for "awesome"? © Johnny Loftus /TiVo
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Pop/Rock - Released June 29, 1999 | American - Columbia

System of a Down's self-titled major-label debut finds the Los Angeles band consolidating its gothic alt-metal, sharpening its deadly riffs, strengthening its brutal rhythms, and adding muscle to its attack. The band differentiates itself from the legions of Southern Californian alt-metalheads by emphasizing its Armenian musical heritage, which gives the music an eerie, otherworldly quality. Part of the success of System of a Down lies with producer Rick Rubin, who helps give the band focus, but ultimately the record works because of the band itself, since they have contributed a set of strong songs that illustrates this is a band that relies on smarts as well as sound. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo