System of a Down is that kooky eccentric metal band of the early 2000s that everyone either loves or hates. Regardless of your opinion of them, they deserve respect for at least having their own distinct sound instantly recognized as System of a Down. Their self-titled debut album unleashed their eccentricity upon the world with their out of the ordinary style of alternative metal/nu-metal. This album shows System of a Down at their least refined beginnings, but teeming with their original style. The songs on this album are similar to each other, but quite diverse within the songs themselves as they go through numerous changes and time signatures—even with most of the songs being under three minutes in length. Generally, the songs are fast paced, consisting of simple crunchy riffs, and Serj Tankian’s eccentric and random vocals. Tankian sings melodically one moment, screaming the next, singing with an accent some time later, or making odd noises. On early System of a Down albums expect no less than kooky chaos. Sugar is indicative of this as Serj does all of the aforementioned things as the music goes through a number of shifts in sound. The same can be said of Suggestions, or really any track on this album. Peephole has a bit of a polka feel and a catchy vocal melody. Spiders is an exception, which is a slower brooding and more melodic piece that shows Tankian needing improvement with his vocals at times. The guitar work by Daron Malakian is quite diverse. There is a nice solo section on Soil, which has a bit of an old-school metal feel and reminiscent of early Tool. John Dolmayan is able to maintain the eccentricity of the music behind the drum kit with a range of styles as well. This first System of a Down album is a bit raw and less refined than future albums, replete with the ethos of “nu-metal” of the late 90s and early 00s, yet it cemented their unique style and propelled them to popularity.
Genre: Alternative Metal, Nu-Metal
Label: American Recordings
Release: June 30, 1998