WOAOAOAH guess who’s back?? It’s me. It’s chaboi.
Alas, however, it is only a brief stay. Halfway into them exam badbois and I’ve found myself with a bit of time off, so why not write a post for all you lovely folk out there?
*watch true metalheads squirm* Toxicity is my favourite metal album. Though I’m not a fan of the nu-metal genre, in which SOAD are constantly shoved, I don’t really see this as a nu-metal record. I see it as a– a— I dunno, really, you can’t put it in a particular sub-genre, cus there ain’t nothing like it. It’s crazy, it’s heavy, it’s frantic, it’s everywhere. So, in recognition of its greatness, and the fact that it’s literally all I’m listening to at the moment, I thought I’d rank the songs within from worst to best. This ain’t no mean feat either, as it’s all pretty feckin amazing.
*There may be a lack of relevant images in the first half of the list, so I’ll just stick a few in of Daron being weird to break up all my crappy writin‘*
You know it’s gonna be a good RANKED when the worst one is still pretty good. Opening with a sombre guitar riff and soft vocals from both Serj and Daron, Air, Trees, Water, Animals soon transforms into a melodic beast of a song with a solid hook and that great guitar tone, which is one of my favourite things about System as a band. The main reason that it’s so low here is that it, at about halfway in the track listing, it kinda seeps into the background somehow, for me at least.
Prison Song (#1)
Next up is the opener to the album. As an opener, it does a wonderful job. It preps the listener for everything that is inevitably gonna be blasted at them in the next 45 minutes; the two vocalists, the political message, the brutal guitar and bass combo, the class-act drumming. While I’ve never been overly fond of the brief spoken word parts before the chorus, the bass parts in this song are absolute quality.
Deer Dance (#3)
Another radical political song in theme, Deer Dance has this wicked guitar part that winds through the verses, quickly turning into a brutal chorus with barbaric cymbal crashes akin to a metal Meg White. There are many songs on Toxicity like this, and serve as some of the best padding in an album I’ve heard. Everything is on top form, with Serj’s verse parts being great, as well as the mind-bogglingly intricate drums. And my head has melted.
Jet Pilot (#4)
Like Deer Dance, this song is just tits-on-a-jetski mental. You can hear it in the vocal parts and the hook itself (“Wired are the eyes of a horse to the jet pilot“). There really isn’t much else to this song, it just sums System to an absolute T.
Clocking in at just under two minutes, this song is probably the one of the more fast-paced on the album and when I say “probably”, I mean definitely. And when I say “definitely”, I mean this song is so fast that it would be pulled over in an autobahn. Little joke for all you controlled-access highway nuts out there. Seriously, though, listen to the isolated drum track of this and the snare in particularly, sounds like a coke fiend’s heartbeat. That is, however, until that breakdown kicks in and you drive your own head into the ground through sheer gusto of moshing. And it’s about group sex. How lovely.
Again, if you wanna hear a song that’ll make a cheetah say “calm down, mate”, you’ve come to the right place. Making use of a blast beat technique, Dolmayan adds that sense of urgency that comes with Serj’s quick delivery. Add to this some drum rolls that are so fast they could easily be one continuous hum and some of my favourite tom-to-cymbal usage in the chorus, and you’ve got one of the best drum tracks on the album.
Thank God I listened to this track recently or it may have faded to the same fate as Atwa. While it doesn’t always stick into your head, whenever it’s on, you’ll wonder why. Not a particularly complex song in structure, Science is made by the vocals. When Serj shouts “Science!” in that first verse, I am reminded why he’s one of, if not, the best vocalists in metal music. While that may be a controversial opinion to some, it remains true, and this track proves it.
Coming in right after Prison Song, Needles proves that Toxicity is something special. The offbeat sense of metal that SOAD are known for is shown in spades here, with lyrics like, “Pull the tapeworm out of your ass” and the ominous/energetic bass/guitar duo of Shavo and Daron. As Serj belts his way through the chorus, you are compelled to belt with him. It’s a beast of a song and, though it isn’t the actual opener, shows you exactly what the album is about.
Another furiously quick song, clocking in at 1:51, Shimmy differs from its speedy counterparts X and Bounce in how, though it is speedy, there is a lot more structure here. While X blasts through its runtime is a flash flood of pure rhythm, I feel like there’s a proper chorus/verse thing going on here, and also lacking the gimmicky factor of Bounce. The ridiculously snare work on his album, as well as the jazz-infused use of the ride serves as a great bit of variety as we see John stretching his chops out to great effect. Plus, the hook has such a great catchy, pop factor that you’ll be humming it to yourself to the rest of the day.
Until now, my main description of this SOAD selection is, in one word, “mental”. However, with Aerials, final single and song from the album, the band prove themselves to have a melodic side, which is very little seen in their discography; and, darn-tootin’, it’s damn good. Though, in the past, I have been a detractor of this track, foolishly thinking it to be boring (what a tit I was), I have learned to appreciate the intricate guitar work and operatic vocals on display here. In an album that sticks out from the rest of its genre, it takes something awesome to stick out from that. Thankfully, this fills the quota.
Preceding that classek, however, is a little non-single, one of two, that really epitomise why I love Toxicity so much. Opening with a killer little bass part, then kickin’ in with Serj’s attention-grabbing hook and busting into an energetic chorus, Psycho keeps the listener on their toes, shifting between this and a more melodic state, with some great drum parts highlighting these differences. Add to this a guitar solo closer, coupled with some orchestral keyboard, and you’ve got a song that could have easily made a strong single.
SPEAAKING OF FLIPPIN’ WHICH, if you wanna hear non-singles that blow your goddamn brain out of its hole and replace it with a ball of Armenian madness, then Forest is yer man. The guitar parts on this, going from fiddly little freaks to straight-up breakneck bastard chords, packing the meat of the fully-grown elephant spawn of Hulk Hogan and a giant talking bicep called LaTrice, are the definition of variety, while Serj’s vocals couple them brilliantly. With this, we’ve also got cymbal work that make the gods hide under their bed sheets made of thunder and lightning and a murderously catchy chorus. I swear, if I wasn’t so comfortably familar with the final two songs here, this could easily be my favourite on the album.
I mean, c’mon, it’s a standard, innit? As soon as that eerily recognisable guitar part kicks in, you know what’s happening, you can’t fight it, and you don’t want to. Before you know, we have the fill. You know the fill, the drum fill that signals that the shit will hit the fan. This is the fill that made me thought, “Dammit, I wanna do that”. A year and a half into drumming and I can achieve a petty attempt that is nothing on the lightspeed shizzle John Dolmayan’s busting out here, but, then again, he is an incredible drummer and I’m the definition of amateur. Toxicity is the song that proves this, as the stop-starty rhythms define the song along with that guitar tone I so adore and Serj’s vocals, that could sing you a lullaby or lead you into battle.
Chop Suey! (#6)
Oh my God, what were you expecting. This is THE System song. Along with that aforementioned Armenian madness, this the buffet of SOAD songs; it has a little bit of everything. You like the subtle melody of Aerials? You got it. The craziness of Bounce? That’s here. The bit-of-bothiness of Toxicity? In spades, buddy. Opening with what can only be described as the defining riff of 00s alt metal, then slowing to something a bit more manageable, Chop Suey! also boasts fullv-fledged string and piano sections, while also retaining that brutal side SOAD bring out every now and then. The drumming is perfect, every beat being exactly where it needs to be. The guitar work, as said, is brilliantly layered and both brutal, melodic and everything in between. It’s the vocals, as per, that standout, however, as Serj stretches his voice out to provide what could possibly be one of my favourite performances, ever.
So, that be that. Love SOAD? Hate SOAD? Hate me? Be sure to tell me through the comments, or send me a pigeon to 121 Doyoureallythinkyouregettingmyaddress Road, Cambodia.
Lots of hugs, kisses and lacerations