System Of A Down - Toxicity - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

System Of A Down - Toxicity

by Bob Coyne Rating: Release Date:2003-07-28

Those frustrated by metal's alleged role in the dumbing-down of popular music should be forced to listen to Toxicity, the superb second album by System of a Down. Raising the bar for an entire generation of metalheads, Toxicity is an album as clever as it is loud. Weaving together influences as diverse as the dark thrash of Slayer, the ranting political frustration of the Dead Kennedys, the melodic alternative metal of Faith No More and the Eastern European music of their heritage (the four band members all have Armenian roots), this is an album unlike any other--with the possible exception of their own debut. Erratic time changes and staccato riffs are complemented by vocalist Serj Tankian's outstanding voice, which can switch from a high-pitched nasal warble to the darkest of metal growls instantly. Even the songs themselves set System of a Down apart from their nu-metal peers, running the gamut from socio-political themes ("Prison", "Deer Dance") to social observations ("Needles") to cocaine-addled groupies ("Psycho"). And, lest all this seriousness get a bit much, SOAD demonstrate their wittier side on "Bounce", while the three-and-a-half-minute epic "Chop Suey!" is the cleverest metal single heard since Faith No More decided to call it quits. Infact, like FNM's rightly regarded classic Angel Dust, Toxicity marks a major step forward not just for a band, but for the entire genre of heavy-metal music. --Robert Burrow

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