System of a Down is a heavy metal band from Los Angeles, California, USA consisting of Serj Tankian (vocals, keyboards), John Dolmayan (drums), Daron Malakian (guitar, vocals) and Shavo Odadjian (bass). All four members are of Armenian ancestry, and some of their songs are about Armenian history and politics.
History, style and influences
Their diverse instrumentals range from baritone electric guitars, electric mandolins, sitars, 12-string classical guitars to many other East Asian instruments. Their main influence is noticeably the heavy metal veterans Black Sabbath and Slayer, but they have many other musical influences such as jazz, fusion, Armenian folk music, classic rock, blues and industrial metal.
The band enjoyed moderate success with their first singles, Sugar and Spiders, off their debut album System of a Down. However, their big break came from their sophomore effort, Toxicity, which debuted at #1 on the American and Canadian charts, eventually going multi-platnium. The album also has the dubious distinction of being the #1 album in America on the week of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Their first big hit was the controversial 'Chop Suey!', released in the late summer of 2001. The title comes from a poem of Father Armeni, who wrote about Armenia after the genocide of 1915. He asked God why have you forsaken me in your eyes. Father Armeni also said that in Armenia a self righteous suicide has taken place. System of a Down received constant airplay in the United States throughout late 2001 and 2002 with their hits, Chop Suey!, Toxicity, Aerials, off their second album, Toxicity, and Innervision off their third album, Steal This Album!.
Their third album, containing songs from the Toxicity recording session, was released as 'Steal This Album!' because early recordings of most of the songs had leaked out onto the Internet. There are four different designs of the album available. One version of the CD resembles a CD Recordable that was labeled with a felt-tip marker, and the other four featured designs by individual band members.
in 2004, the band recorded two brand new albums for release in 2005 that will be released 6 months apart from each other. They are Mesmerize and Hypnotize. Mesmerize will be released in April whilst Hypnotize will be released approximately six months after. In early January, 2005, a new track called 'Cigaro' was leaked onto the Internet (some say it was leaked by the band itself, considering it was leaked onto a web page which featured a 'mesmerizing' spiral and was performed by the band at their Big Day Out appearances several days after the leak) to praise from fans.
Nu metal or not?
A common debate amongst System fans and heavy metal fans in general, is the topic of the band's genre: Are they nu metal (a term which to some people brings negative connotations) or is their music easier described as simply heavy metal?
It is argued by some that System of a Down rarely feature guitar solos and have typical nu metal song structure (verse, chorus, verse, chorus, bridge, chorus), and thus should be considered a nu metal band.
These arguments are also counteracted by the fact that they have not included rap in any of their songs, a typical, if not defining, characteristic of nu metal, but instead use occasional screams and growls that are typical of death metal. Another typical component of nu metal, the turntable, is not part of the band's instrumentation.
System of a Down have been labelled as nu metal by fans and media since their incarnation. This can be attributed to the release of their first album, which occured during the nu metal boom of the mid-to-late 90's. Adding to this, the band toured with Ozzfest, a festival that is typically features many up and coming nu metal bands.
Guitarist Daron Malakian was quoted in the magazine Guitar World as saying that he was glad that System of a Down had not slipped into the nu metal genre.
- System of a Down (30 June 1998)
- Toxicity (4 September 2001)
- Steal This Album! (26 November 2002)
- Hypnotize (26 April 2005)
- Mesmerize (27 September 2005)
- 'Sugar' from System of a Down (1998)
- 'Spiders' from System of a Down (1999)
- 'War' from System Of A Down (2000)
- 'Chop Suey!' from Toxicity (2001)
- 'Toxicity' from Toxicity (2002)
- 'Aerials' from Toxicity (2002)
- 'Psycho' from Toxicity (2002)
- 'Innervision' from Steal This Album! (2002)
- 'Boom!' from Steal This Album! (2003)
- 'I-E-A-I-A-I-O' from Steal This Album! (2003)
- 'Cigaro' from Hypnotize (2005) (announced, yet to be released)
- 'B.Y.O.B.' from Mesmerize (2005) (announced, yet to be released)
External links This biography is published under the GNU Licence