Album Review no.1: Toxicity - System Of A Down

kempokid
Since I'm starting to review music albums, I thought that I should start with either an extremely good album, or a terrible one, so I decided to begin with one that is critically acclaimed, in order to ease my way into reviews, as I can mostly be positive about it.

Prison Song:
The album starts off strong with this killer of a track. All of the instrumental work in the song is vicious, with the fast drumming, heavy guitar and the boisterous use of bass. My favourite part of the song is the way it lends itself to Daron's vocal style, which borders on extremely whiny, yet still sounds great here. Serj's sections display his diverse vocal style, as there are both soft, clean parts, and very aggressive screaming. Definitely a song that's extremely difficult not to headbang to.
10/10

Needles:
This feels like a classic SOAD song, the fast tempo and the incredibly unusual are why this is the case. It's a good song on every front, and I find the chorus to be quite amusing, as it's most likely talking about a serious issue, but presenting it in such an asurd way.
10/10

Deer Dance:
I love the difference in sound compared to the previous 2 tracks that this contains. The chorus in particular why this is such a great song, sounding like a folk song of sorts. The contrast between this and the harsher aspects of the song is something that occurs many times throughout the album, but is probably at its most defined right here.
10/10

Jet Pilot:
A much weaker song than the last three. Serj's vocals don't sound very good as it sounds quite stupid in the loud parts and fairly whiny during the slightly softer parts. The song is also much less memorable than most of the others on the album, due to nothing making it stand out in particular.
7/10

X:
This song suffers in a lot of ways that Jet Pilot does, Serj isn't very good in either due to the fact that his sustained screaming is quite subpar here, and that the song is all around uninteresting for the most part. That said, the part where Serj starts softly saying "we don't need to" repeatedly heavily reminds me of Korn, and while I'm personally not a big fan of Korn, it gives the song a small amount of identity by having a slightly more traditional nu metal song, a genre that I don't dislike quite as much as many seem to.
7/10

Chop Suey:
A song that definitely deserves its praise, it has amazing vocals that change from the loud, somewhat harsh sound of the verses to the soft, melodic chorus. The song is also extremely catchy and has a much clearer structure to many other songs on the album. The inclusion of Daron's vocals add to this track as well, highlighting the focus on melody that this song contains compared to many of the other tracks.
10/10

Bounce:
While the song itself is fairly repetitive at many points, constantly repeating the chorus throughout, it makes up for it by being an absolute blast to listen to. It's an extremely entertaining song both musically and lyrically, with many innuendos in general, as well as being easily interpreted as 2 different things, depending on which way you look at it.
10/10

Forest:
One of the only songs on the album to have clear crescendos rather than sudden jumps in tone and volume, Forest is a great track. The song includes some of the most emotional singing on the album, especially with the chorus, where genuine concern is the only thing you can hear. The other instruments do a fine job of putting just as much effort in the song.
10/10

ATWA:
One of the only songs I would consider to be some sort of ballad, it is also my favourite song on the album. For starters, the subtle increase in the amount of instrumental work, starting with a simple bass line and building up to a explosion of instrumental glory. This inclusion of more instruments over time gives the emotional impact of Serj and Daron (this is the song he shines most in in his entire career). No part of this song is even slightly weak.
10/10

Science:
After 2 of the darkest, most emotional songs in the album, it's nice to have a song that is much looser and more entertaining, especially the introductory guitar riff which appears throughout the song.
10/10

Shimmy:
This is easily one of my least favourite songs on the album. I find it quite obnoxious at times and simply bland at other times. This is Serj at his worst, with annoying screaming and his lacklustre performance in general. The rest of the instruments just repeat the same thing for 90% of the song. On the positive side, it doesn't even go for 2 minutes, meaning that it doesn't overstay it's welcome.
5/10

Toxicity:
As one of the few songs I know all the lyrics to, I believe that this song is a masterpiece in every respect. The riff is pure perfection with the vocals being at some of its best on the album. The drum work is to be noted as it is at its best right here, as it isn't just keeping the time, but using extremely interesting beats throughout.
10/10

Psycho:
I love SOAD songs that were made for the sole purpose of insanity when they work. While Serj's singing sounds a bit off at times, the instrumentals perfectly fit with this, making it seem odd if the vocals weren't the way they are. The song is just so fun in every respect.
10/10

Aerials:
This song feels much more like a traditional ballad than ATWA. The album all the way through has Daron sounding amazing, and this song is no exception. The perfection of the instruments adds to the power that this song has, with the sad sounding main riff, to the extremely well done riff that appears in the intro.
10/10

Arto:
Let's quickly get this out of the way, I wish this song didn't exist, Aerials was the perfect song to end the album on, it was emotional, powerful and reflective. This song ruins that by appearing at the end. If this appeared at the start, I might have forgiven it, but it ruins the mood. That said, the song itself is decently enjoyable to listen to and I can't fault it other than what I just said.
4/10

11*10 + 2*7 + 5 + 4 - 5* 9 = 89/100

Final Thoughts:
This album is extremely good, the vocals are consistent, the instrumentals are never bad and Daron barely ever sings, when he does, it sounds amazing in the album. It isn't hard to see how this album cemented SOAD as a staple of anyone into metal, especially nu metal. Despite the fact that it is classified as nu metal, it is usually more complex than that and has amazingly well thought out lyrics that are too much for the scope of this review. It is a must have.
89/100

The next album I will review will be on a much more controversial album in terms of quality:
Pablo Honey by Radiohead

Comments

Atwa has to be one of my favorite System of a Down songs. I really love the Mezmerize and Hypnotize albums but Toxicity is still a classic. Great review. - cjWriter1997

The Mezmerize album is definitely my favourite by them, but as my first review, I thought of doing an album that I had listened to more at the time, I'm actually going to be doing Mezmerize as my 22nd album review - kempokid

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