Album review

System Of A Down : Toxicity

System Of A Down : ToxicityHmm. The second album from the spurious ones has brought me to my knees. If I were to describe Toxicity without using words like 'chainsaw' and 'hammer' I would be doing them an injustice, but I just cannot get my head around this album.

To a mesmerizing tribal backbeat, Serj Tankian plucks from nowhere a lethal mixture of social comment and pointless bull. Needles is as close as they come to the style of their debut and Toxicity finds the Down a long way down a road few thought they would ever navigate successfully.
    Call me old fashioned, but Prison Song just isn't the track to open an important album like this with. As mentioned already, Needles is a stone cold stunner, but it's not until Chop Suey! that the record really starts to come into its own, bringing with it the rampant Bounce and Forest to finally give the album some depth of meaning.

Of course, the last thing any System Of A Down fan wants is any freaking meaning from Toxicity - much rather preferring to rub their faces in a gravel pit - but it does stop the album from disappearing into its own stratosphere and holds the project together by the skin of its teeth. Which, I'm sure, is just the way that Serj intended.
    But I've still got to say, there's too many leftovers from the gruesome eighties bands of this genre for me to really give in to it. I like my 'weird' thoughtful (check out Last Crack's Burning Time) and Toxicity, despite it's moments of superb musicianship and very, very classy vocal arrangements, descends too often into 'shouting bollocks' to truly break through the barriers - although you nearly found me eating my words when I got to the last track Aerials which comes over all 'Queensrÿche in a crackhouse'.
Superb, but not enough to rescue it from the 'maybe later' pile . . .

:: Sion Smith

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