System of a Down

Last week’s classic album is System of a Down’s eponymous début album.

Some Historical Context

System of a Down completely passed me by. I had never heard of them until at some point in the last few years I read an article on the Guardian web site called “100 essential albums from the last ten years” or something like that. I used that article as the impetus to buy half a dozen or so albums that I’d never heard of. One of those album’s was System of a Down’s second album, Toxicity. I listened to it, decided that it really wasn’t for me and put it to one side.

Then, a few weeks ago, I got involved in a discussion about choosing a single iconic album to represent each of the last twenty-five years. Some of the people involved in the discussion were appalled that I hadn’t considered SOAD’s first two albums for 1998 or 2001. In case I was missing out on something good, I listened to the first album and decided that it really wasn’t any better than the second one. SOAD were really not a band who I enjoyed.

So imagine my excitement when the band’s first album was pulled out of the hat and became last week’s classic album of the week. This will be the second time I’ve heard this album. Yes, I have preconceptions, but I’ll try to be fair.

The rest of this blog post will be written as I listen to the album.

The Songs

1. Suite-Pee

It’s difficult to review this without sounding like a cliché – “this isn’t music”, “I can’t make out the words”, “he’s just shouting”. If I want to listen to stuff like this then I know where to find Napalm Death.

2. Know

Oh. At least this one has a bit of tune. Not a very good one, but a tune nonetheless. Are we sure it’s not the chap from Napalm Death on lead vocals?

3. Sugar

I’m hating this. But we persevere. There’s a false ending just before the two minute mark, but the songs all sound so similar that it could just be the break between two shorter songs.

4. Suggestions

This started ok. Nice little bit of guitar. But within seconds it turned into the usual dirge. Oh, and a bit where they put on comedy voices like Monty Python’s pepperpot women.

5. Spiders

They’re trying to lull me into a false sense of security here. This starts off sounding almost musical. I bet it won’t last. [time passes] Ok, I was wrong. It stayed vaguely musical for the whole three and half minutes. Not good, just vaguely musical.

6. DDevil

Back to their usual sound. It’s terrible. Mercifully short though.

7. Soil

More of the same. I’m losing the will to live.

8. War?

How much more of this is there? There’s nothing constructive to say about this at all. It’s just horrible.

9. Mind

Ok. Here’s another one that sounds different. And not entirely horrible. Then at 1:45 it goes silent and comes back sounding rubbish again. And at about 3:00 we’re back in their usual style. Then it spends three minutes wandering around various styles – none of them very good.

10. Peephole

Between the usual dross there’s an interesting little guitar riff trying to get out here. Soon gets buried though.

11. CUBErt

Another one that sounds like it might be interesting – for about ten seconds before the usual nonsense sweeps in. Almost over now. I need a drink.

12. Darts

I have nothing more to add.

13. P.L.U.C.K.

Last song. I’m going to get though this. Lucky the album is only 40 minutes long.

In Summary

I hope I never have to listen another note by this band. It is horrible. I know this is just my opinion and a lot of people don’t share it. There’s a lot of evidence that many people see something in this noise that I just can’t.

I guess this is how Daily Mail readers felt when they heard the Sex Pistols for the first time.



  1. As someone who I’ve observed listening to folk music I was surprised to read that you even tackled this to begin with. I was already thinking, “this is not going to be his cup of tea at all”. And look, I was right.

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