Welcome to the musical meandering insights of Aaron Joy. Here you'll find 600 reviews of CDs & DVDs of rock & metal in all its variations, mainstream & indie. What they all share is that the album or band is unique in some way & not every submission was reviewed. Please share these reviews or link to them if you like what you read. Reviews are no longer being posted here but feel free to e-mail Aaron & post comments. (Formerly the Roman Midnight Music Blog) (last update 5/23/2017)

February 23, 2013

System Of A Down ~ System Of A Down (aka debut)

(Click on heading to visit official website.)
Style: alt metal, prog metal, heavy metal, experimental
Label: Sony
Year: 1998
Home: Los Angeles, California

Members: Serj Tankian ~ vocals/keyboards/samples
Daron Malakian ~ guitars/b. vocals
Shavo Odadjian ~ bass
John Dolmayan ~ drums

Additional: Rick Rubin ~ piano

I will confess that I have never listened to SOAD. There was something about their reputation that made me think that they weren't my time of metal, too modern for me or too alt rock-ish in their leanings. I'm also not a fan of bands like Korn or the Deftones who SOAD tends to be associated with. But, I have to say I was wrong. What surprised me listening to their self-titled album, which I grabbed to hear feeling it was about time I heard them, is the arrangements that have a boatload of heavy guitar crunch that's feels to me more akin to Slayer & the thrash than many of the nu-metal bands I was expecting to hear in SOAD musical land. They also have a variety in the internal movement of their compositions that reminds me of the greatly under-rated Faith No More or Jane's Addiction. The songs twist with unexpected excitement & crunch. So often I hear bands that have a dynamic singer but musically not so, or the opposite. Here everyone in the band is on the same page. Certainly the unorthodox singing is a crucial part of the experience but doesn't dominate the variety. I'm humbly declaring how I misjudged them & this is what happens when you don't do any research into a band. Party foul on me. This is not college beer drinking jock rock that just drones on. & it doesn't have the screaming, grunting & shouting I was expecting. Of course, this is their debut & obviously I don't know what direction their music later went to. From reviews I read elsewhere they may have changed but constantly put out strong albums. The storm out the door with a great debut & stay at that level. SOAD not just turn in some great dynamics but also have a strong set of songs to go with it. I now understand why SOAD have found themselves on the top of the musical heap, challenging as much as moshing with a fascinating listening experience. Now, I should mention that members are of Armenian descent, but to discuss how this is Armenian music versus American I feel would be foolish. While some of their songs may discuss some Armenian historical moments, they're just as likely to sing about such universal topics as terrorism or sex. Maybe their background makes them more open to experimenting with different instruments, styles & lyrically components, but I won't go any farther than that & get into the Armenianness of SOAD. While they are just as much artistic for the sake of it as political. What I will say is don't do what I did & ignore them.

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