Home Read Classic Album Review: System of a Down | Toxicity

Classic Album Review: System of a Down | Toxicity

The Armenian-American thrashers make their mark with a jaw-dropping second set.


This came out in 2001 – or at least that’s when I got it. Here’s what I said about it back then (with some minor editing):


Now that the ranks of rap-rock retreads and nu-metal shophands have swelled to critical mass, the odds of finding a unique act are about the same as meeting Marilyn Manson at morning mass.

Well, save a fireproof pew for the Antichrist superstar and pass on the Korn Bizkits ’cause System of a Down have arrived. Actually, they’ve been around for a while; this L.A. quartet of Armenian-American thrashers dropped their impressive self-titled debut in 1998. But the staggering sophomore disc Toxicity should be the one that turns the heads of the masses. Anchored by a jaw-dropping musical style that welds blistering jackhammer metal and hardcore to Middle Eastern rhythms and riffs, driven by the destructively demented Jello Biafra-joins-Slayer vocals of Serj Tankian, fueled by high-IQ lyrics that tackle everything from the war on drugs (Prison Son) and Charles Manson (ATWA) to groupies (Psycho) and even societal parasites (Needles, which boasts the chorus of the year: “Pull the tapeworm out of your ass, hey!”), these 14 tracks are the work of a band that knows how to buck the system. I am down with that. I suspect you will be too.