System of a Down is a name that has seen less mention in recent times. This is because of the band’s release schedule. System of a Down has released new material in recent times, which were a couple of songs called “Protect the Land” and “Genocidal Humanoidz” in response to the 2020 Nagorno-Karabakh War. However, the band’s last studio album came out in 2005, with all indications suggesting that there won’t be another one in the future.
As such, while System of a Down hasn’t broken up, it isn’t what anyone would consider to be a particularly active band. Still, there is a reason that people care about System of a Down. Simply put, the band did manage to put out a total of five studio albums from the late 1990s to the mid 2000s, which were good enough to earn them a considerable measure of success. Something that has seen them remembered to the present time and presumably beyond.
5. Steal This Album!
Steal This Album! is not as well-regarded as the other albums by a lot of System of a Down fans. This is because it is often described as a collection of songs that failed to meet the cut for Toxicity, which was released just a year before this album in 2001. Indeed, it should be mentioned that an earlier version of Steal This Album! was leaked onto the Internet under the name of Toxicity II. Something that irked the band into reworking the material into what exists in the present time.
Regardless, System of a Down has always claimed that the songs on this album are just as good as the songs that made it onto Toxicity, so much so that some of the band members have called it their favorite release. Unfortunately, this isn’t supported by their respective receptions. There are moments of excellence on Steal This Album!, but for the most part, it is exactly as haphazard as what one would expect based on how it came into existence.
Toxicity and Steal This Album! aren’t the only time that System of a Down has released a couple of studio albums within short succession of one another. After all, the band’s fourth and fifth studio albums Mezmerize and Hypnotize were meant to be companion albums, with the result that both were released in 2006. The two albums did quite well. Both made their debut at the number one position on the Billboard 200 albums chart, thus making System of a Down one of the few acts to earn such an honor.
Sadly, Hypnotize does seem to have been impacted in a negative manner by this kind of release schedule. It isn’t a bad album. In fact, it has a number of excellent songs that are well-worth remembering. The issue is that those songs are mixed in with much more mediocre counterparts, which becomes more and more apparent towards the end. As such, the album has a rather unsatisfactory conclusion, which is particularly irritating when one remembers that chances are very good that it will be System of a Down’s last studio album to ever be released.
Mezmerize was recorded at the same time as Hypnotize. However, it proved to be the superior twin, which might explain why it was released in May of 2006 while its follow-up was released in November of 2006. Regardless, Mezmerize met with both critical success and commercial success, which should come as no surprise because the same was true for Hypnotize.
It wins out because it was much more consistently excellent. Something that is much easier said than done when it comes to albums of any music genre. Even so, there are some songs on it that are even better than the rest, with an excellent example being “B.Y.O.B.” This is one of those songs that are very closely tied to real world events but have nonetheless managed to prove their staying power by remaining powerful even though the freshness of those real world events has faded.
2. System of a Down
System of a Down’s self-titled album introduced them to the world. It wasn’t as polished as their later offerings. However, it made it very clear that System of a Down possessed real potential. For context, Korn had made nu metal mainstream in 1998. As such, there was a wave of Korn imitators, who were every bit as unimaginative as that description makes them sound. Unlike them, System of a Down showed vocal range, musical flourish, and other quirks that enabled them to stand out from the competition while still remaining aimed at much the same audience.
Besides this, it is also interesting to note that System of a Down already showed the band’s interest in sociopolitical issues, which has characterized much of the band members’ music. Indeed, the liner notes actually contained extra information about exactly what was been brought up in some of the songs, thus making it very clear what the band was trying to communicate in them.
Over the course of their career, System of a Down has shown considerable range. The band’s self-titled album can be considered the band on the darker side of things. In contrast, Steal This Album! can be considered the band on the lighter side of things. Put in that context, Toxicity can be considered System of a Down at a perfect balance between those two ends of the spectrum.
Moreover, the album can be considered the band at its best. It addresses dark topics with appropriate weight. Simultaneously, it possesses a certain sense of humor, with the result that it never becomes excessive in any way. On top of this, Toxicity has remained as relevant in the present as it was in the past, thus enabling it to secure the number one position on this list.
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