So onto the second System Of A Down review in the day - I have decided to do this one as well just because it is sort of a natural coda to 'Toxicity'. For a bit of back ground to this release, after the release of 'Toxicity' the fans of the band were hungry for more song - and someone leaked some unfinished versions of the tracks that did not make it onto that album on the net. No-one has ever claimed responsibility for this, but the band as a whole were not happy with this and the band issued a statement expressing their disappointment that their fans were hearing unfinished material, and released the finished versions of the leaked material. They changed some of the titles and added three new tracks whilst removing a few other ones. When it was released their was limited editions with four covers designed by the band (as pictured above) and the standard white sleeve with a white background. For some people this is either the third album or the odds and sod's album - for me it is number three in their discography, released third, not last or without the band's consent - the third release. So with that in mind, it is the follow up to 'Toxicity', so how does it stand up against to that giant of a record?
Musically it is not that far a leap from their last album to be any different, when it was released Serj Tankian stated that these songs were kept off their last records "because they did not fit the overall continuity of the album" - and it is something I agree with to be honest. Apart from "Mr Jack", the rest of the songs would not have sat well on 'Toxicity'. But this is not to say that they are inferior to that album, it is the exact opposite to that, and this album is as good as, if not better than 'Toxicity'. The album does not come with the usual expectation as it was released very quickly, no fanfare so to speak; so it was a genuine surprise and this feeling has not diminished over the years. Starting with "Chic N Stu" which goes on about pizza pie (makes me hungry each time I hear it) you know you’re in for a more relaxed affair here. But then it goes "Innervision" which makes it a little more mystical with the band talking about looking inside for the vision of the future - or they could be talking about going to a Stevie Wonder concert, you can never really tell with Serj at time. But fear not, as it goes back to politics soon enough with "Bubbles" and this sort of continues with the rest of the album bouncing from subject matter and style with ease and no care for the song before hand or afterwards.
There is not a song on this album that would not have been loved on the earlier works I feel, but as I stated before the band were right to keep them off.... with one exception as I also stated earlier "Mr Jack". This song about being stopped by the police just towers over the album like Godzilla over Tokyo. Having had the pleasure of seeing the band perform this song live I can also report that it is one of the best songs I have ever seen performed. Also, the subtle and restrained "Roulette" just shows the band's more quite side (with great effect) - if they ever get round to making another album I would be interested in seeing if they ever go back to this sort of style. But how does the overall album feel?
Well it is solid and a very enjoyable album to be honest, drummer John Dolmayan and Tankian have both expressed a fondness for this album as well. Yet it is still treated like the naughty and unloved dog which is kept to the side - on their recent reunion tours this album gets less of a view compared to the other four releases. I feel each time I listen to it that if the band had have really got behind this album and not released it as a way to stop the fans listen to what they feel were inferior versions of the material, it could have been bigger than all their other albums combined. When I'm asked where to start with SOAD, I tell people to start here. It is that good an album and it also needs more of a spotlight than the other ones.
9 out of ten - Almost perfect, almost.......
You can purchase the album from here
You can go to the System Of A Down website here
You can listen to the album on Spotify here
Here is the video to the song "Boom"