hello folks! this week for the weekly review, we’re gonna take at the look at the debut record from System of a Down, System of a Down, released in 1998. this is a band i know by reputation, but have never sat down to a full record, so i’m very excited about this one!

System of a Down begins with Suite-Pee, a song about the ways in which religion, and specifically Christianity, is frequently used as a tool of control by the corrupt – in this cases, they’re decrying pedophilia in the church, but a lot of this feels a bit more broadly applicable too. very strong opener – Serj Tankian’s vocals are absolutely unique but they’re incredibly versatile. Know is a very interesting track, lyrically, about the internal lives and our beliefs. i really like the transition into Sugar, which itself does some strange stuff. the verses are a lot lighter, with Tankian kinda riffing over lighter instrumentation, and then the choruses, and especially the outro, go a lot harder. i like this one a lot more than i expected – i read a lot of like, toxic American masculinity being commented on here in a way that i feel successfully sarcastically speaks that voice without making it sound at all cool. the character in this song ranting about the Kombucha mushroom people is not an aspirational figure. Suggestion’s p good. Spiders is quite a bit different, tonally, going for an overall quieter, moodier sound. i dig it. DDevil’s opening riff is p good, ngl. the song doesn’t quite connect for me but it’s a good listen. Soil’s really good – easily one of the strongest songs on the record. War? has a really, really good hook. plus, “beliefs are the bullets of the wicked” in the bridge is an incredibly good line. good good track. i’m fine with Mind. i think i’m less interested in some of what they’re doing instrumentally and while i agree with the sentiment they’re conveying lyrically about big nation states having a vested interest in opposing well educated free thinking individuals, some of the specific expressions dont really work for me, haha. Peephole’s another track that plays a bit with their sound, having an almost circus vibes to it in places, haha. CUBErt’s a weird little track. dunno how i feel about Darts. they’re really getting strange with it at the end here. P.L.U.C.K. is an incredibly strong closer – all of the members of the band are of Armenian descent, and this track comments pretty directly on the Armenian Genocide carried out by the at the time Ottoman Empire during World War I. it’s a very effective symmetry that the post-chorus ends with the phrase “all in a system, down”, and that they repeat the post-chorus as the last bit of vocals leading the song out.

faves – Sugar, Soil, War?, P.L.U.C.K.
dislikes –

i really feel like this was in the sweet spot, or just before the sweet spot, for heavier metal for me. there’s a tipping point where it goes a bit too chunky, the lyrics get a bit too indecipherable, or it just becomes a heavy wave of sound and i tune out, but i had a pretty good time through this whole record. i think some of the specific themes of this record are ones i have deeply complicated feelings about, both personally and the ways that they’ve been expressed socially (for example, this record is pre-mass adoption of the internet and pre-9/11, and as much as Tankian and co decry religion here, especially as a motivator for war, there absolutely was a wing of the anti-religious atheists in the US that pushed for anti-Muslim causes like the war in Iraq, so…. they probably wouldn’t have loved that either). so i dunno! i definitely dug the music here, and Tankian’s an incredibly talented vocalist with a significant range in style, so this was a really good listen.

System of a Down – 7/10

for the next Weekly Album Review, i’ll be checking out Rush’sĀ Moving Pictures, released in 1981. i’ll be back next Friday, September 29th with that review and to pick another weekly record, and in the meantime, let me know what album you’d like me to review! (i pool all suggestions in one place, and draw a person, then one pick from that person, so feel free to drop as many as you’d like! if you leave an email or username i’ll contact you when i’ve gotten through all your suggestions.)