The first two System of a Down records are pretty damn solid. They were exciting and filled with artistry and riffs galore. Not to mention the melodies emitted from singer Serj Tankian. Then there was a drastic change to the band as they released their third and fourth albums Mezmerize and Hypnotize. Guitarist Daron Malakian took on a more prominent role of not just songwriting but also as the bands singer, and moved Serj to the background. This was more than changed the style of the band but also saw the beginning of the end for System of a Down.
It’s one thing to add another layer of vocals to the band. Mastodon did it and they did it well. But the singer switch in System really changed the band and not for the good. Gone were the more poetic songs and melodic voice, and were then replaced by self deprecating lyrics and nasally whiney vocals. Also gone was the real artistry that the band had. Their early days featured beautifully chaotic performances which emitted a strong passion to not just their art but as a way to stand out. This “new” version of System was boring, generic and stale. Musically the songs just didn’t have the “power” as their past albums. Their live shows became utterly boring, with the band just standing there playing with no emotion at all. Looking back on this era you could see the writing on the wall that this was it for them.
Over the years during different “reunions” of the band, you can still tell that there is a bit of something off about the band. These shows also seem to be more about replenishing their bank accounts then anything else. Reading interviews with Shavo and John, you can tell that they are 100 % into the band and wanting to record new music together but, Daron and Serj seem to be the ones that are holding that back. Who knows what will happen in the future but, the time is running out for them to get back to what they did best. It’s a shame that ego’s get in the way of making great music. Hopefully they get their act together and can put out a great album again. Until then at least I’ve got their debut album and Toxicity.
My brain works in strange ways at times. I think of silly lists in my mind then start to really analyze them. Earlier in the week I had an idea while gazing through my music collection at home about how many self titled albums there are. Which then made me think how many of those are really that good. Well here is a list of the best self titled albums. This list is in NO PARTICULAR ORDER.
Black Sabbath- Black Sabbath
Alice In Chains- Alice In Chains (Tripod)
Year Of The Rabbit- Year Of The Rabbit
Vision Of Disorder- Vision Of Disorder
The Velvet Underground & Nico- The Velvet Underground & Nico
Led Zeppelin- Led Zeppelin
The Doors- The Doors
System Of A Down- System Of A Down
Them Crooked Vultures- Them Crooked Vultures
Foo Fighters- Foo Fighters
Royal Blood- Royal Blood
Rage Against The Machine- Rage Against The Machine
Pearl Jam- Pearl Jam (Avocado)
The Cult- The Cult
When System Of A Down first came on the scene, it was something intriguing and exciting. Their debut album was released in June of 1998. At first they enjoyed a bit of success following the release of the singles for “Sugar” and “Spiders.” It was also during this time that they went out on tour with Metallica, Slayer and Ozzfest. The group’s big break arrived when their second album Toxicity was released September 4, 2001 and debuted at No. 1 on the charts. Even through the events of September 11, Toxicity would go on to see over 3 million copies in the US and has since sold over 12 million copies worldwide. With songs like “Chop Suey,” “Toxicity,” and “Aerials,” it’s no wonder this album went on to be as big as it was.
Personally, I enjoy the first album more. The message is still the same throughout all their albums, but the sense of urgency of the delivery on the first album really comes through. The production on the first album is a bit more raw as well. Not to take anything away from how good Toxicity is, that album to me just has a bit too much polish on it, almost to the point of being too theatrical. The first two System albums are awesome. It’s too bad they couldn’t carry on this level after. Their follow ups were miserable and lackluster.
In Decemeber 1998 the singer for the band Snot was killed in a car accident. The band had been riding high after releasing their debut album Get Some in 1997. the band disbanded not too long after Strait’s death. Before his death though, the band had begun work on their follow up album, but Lynn had yet to record vocals for the album. So in 2000, it was decided that the album’s vocal tracks would be completed by friends of Strait as a tribute. The end result being “Strait Up.” Released on November 7, 2000, the album featured appearances by the lead vocalists Serj Tankian of System Of A Down, Jonathan Davis of Korn, Max Cavalera of Soulfly, Brandon Boyd of Incubus, Corey Taylor of Slipknot, Dez Fafara of Coal Chamber, Lajon Witherspoon, Clint Lowery and Morgan Rose of Sevendust amongst a few others. The album does feature one complete song entitled “Absent” with Lynn Strait’s vocals. When the album was released it was met with high praise from critics and assorted music magazines. A little known tidbit is that song that was sung by Serj on the tribute album actually had lyrics by Lynn, and if you’ve heard the live Snot album alive you’ll be able to hear that version.
The tribute album was very fitting and a really nice send off by all those involved to their fallen friend and brother. If you’ve never heard the album you really should!