System of a Down: quirky and surprising

A postcard sized advertisement-pamphlet I got when I picked up Procrastination by Zero recently has the following quotes about Mezmerize by System of a Down:

E!Online: You’ll be left wondering why other bands aren’t so daring

Rolling Stone: At its reckless best, which is a lot, Mezmerize is thrilling confrontation, a graphic reflection of a nation tearing itself apart in anger, fear and guilt.

The Guardian: Who’d have thought you could describe a metal band as “intriguing”?


When you hear System of a Down for the first time, you’re likely to either laugh out loud, like the Rhymebawd did, or think ‘that the hell is this crap’, like I did. This not for those who want music that’ll just play in the background and let you work or chat; it commands attention, even though it took me a couple of songs (after Aerials) to switch from “what is this crap?” to “WOWEE”.

Even though Rolling Stone called it progressive metal, System of a Down create music that defies definition: it is rife with abrupt changes in rhythm and obscure choruses, and switch between the chorus, high-energy bass and drums, the mellow piano or lead guitar, and just plain screaming. Nothing in their music seems sane and it just great fun. Most songs are short and snappy, and most songs are dissimilar, even in their quirkiness.

It’s not that SoaD can’t do normal metal. Aerials, Snowblind and Lonely Day are just as normal (and good) as Vicinity of Obscenity and Violent Pornography are extremely weird (and great fun). Viscinity of Obscenity is obscure and fascinating: the switches in rhythm are surprising, and reminiscent of Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody, even if the lyrics are nonsensical – Banana banana/ terra cotta. But that can be said of a lot of SoaD’s other songs. If you liked Green Day’s ‘Hitchin a Ride’, you will probably like SoaD.

Before I begin repeating myself, here’s my SoaD top ten fifteen twenty, in no particular order because I can’t make up my mind:

1. Viscinity of Obscenity
2. Snowblind
3. Aerials
4. Violent Pornography
5. The Prison Song
6. Jet Pilot
7. Psycho
8. Outer Space
9. Chopsuey
10. Toxicity
11. Cigaro
12. Shimmy
13. Sugar
14. Question
15. X
16. Atwa
17. Suite Pee
18. Marmalade
19. She’s like Heroin
20. Lonely Day

It’s strange, but not much else sounds interesting after listening to this quirky and surprising music. I fear my music preferences may have been permanently altered. A few days ago, I heard Vicinity of Obscenity on repeat for about five hours at a stretch. And that is just insane.

HDHD, O’God of Music Recommendations- any music recco’s that are similar to SoaD?

Related: Rolling Stone on System of a Down
8 Comments:
Blogger Rhymebawd said...

Laughed out loud *in a good way*, let it be noted for posterity.

And this isn't really as quirky/strange as you think (from what I've heard). You need to hear more - Blur (and not just those psychedelic remixes :-P) and Jethro Tull and Bjork come immediately to mind.

There are definitely more, maybe not Metal, though.

December 20, 2005 10:51 am  
Blogger Nikhil Pahwa said...

Yep, I think I'd better give Bjork another listen.

I dont like most of what I've heard of Blur - only the self titled album. I'm unable to find the psychedelic remixes anywhere. Did find the tape, though, and I've written Blur (live) on it. My cousin's doesn't know where that CD is. He has a habit of losing his music, or giving it away after he gets bored.

Jethro Tull isn't quirky! :S

December 20, 2005 11:29 am  
Blogger Hum do Harami do said...

Ah SOAD were rather good i thought till Toxicity. I found Mezmerize so horrible, I've really not summoned up the courage to hear Hypnotize. Also Snowblind was originally by Black Sabbath and was IMO kinda discofied and balhatkaared by SOAD. (I would have said SOADed but there are limits to bad punning)
Also a lot of SOAD is in fact a kinda radio friendly version of Faith No More who were a much more sincerely quirky and psychotic band. Check out Angel Dust and you'll know where a LOT of SOAD's changes in styles and exaggerated vocal mannerisms stem from. Plus FNM wrote pound for pound much better lyrics and never descended to amateurish populistic garbage like WHY DO THEY ALWAYS SEND THE POOR!!!
You could try hearing the Real Thing, Angel Dust, King for a day fool for a lifetime and Album of the year by Faith No More - all extraordinarily strong albums.

December 21, 2005 3:18 am  
Blogger Nikhil Pahwa said...

Hmm...I liked most of the NIB versions better than the originals; never did like Ozzie's voice.Will check out all the bands that you've recco'ed. Thanks. I moment I speak highly of a band, you tell me what's better. :D

Seen the HT reporter vs Forumers battle on RSJ? HT's removed that online article. She'd written a *very* crappy article on the Youth Nexus.

Dude, you ought to be the music critic in this country...but then maybe you'll have to rein in your dissing, so it'll never be as much fun. :)

December 21, 2005 8:19 pm  
Blogger Hum do Harami do said...

I flatter myself into beelieving that I never criticise anything w/o it being fairly justfied and well substantiated — but there simply isn't enough of the sort of music i really like going around to criticise :p

December 22, 2005 12:27 am  
Blogger Nikhil Pahwa said...

So what's the music you really like ?

December 22, 2005 1:02 am  
Blogger Hum do Harami do said...

Here's 20 groups/artists that I really like a substantial part of the discography of, in no particular order:

King Crimson

Kyuss

Steve Vai

Alice Cooper

Faith No More

Black Sabbath

Living Colour

Bjork

Yes

Mind funk

Iron Maiden

Rush

Faster Pussycat

Al Stewart

Joe Satriani

Immolation

Pulp

Exodus

Soundgarden

Yngwie Malmsteen

Honourable mentions due for nine inch nails, manic street preachers, poison and obituary among others.

December 22, 2005 2:47 am  
Anonymous Drumster said...

If you really wanna listen to some new music, I'll give you a list of bands you might have never heard of. But I am more into 80s hair metal and glam rock these days. There are shitloads of compilations and new bands I have heard. So if you like Alice Cooper and REO Speedwagon then, I cant give you a lot more...

January 27, 2006 1:51 am  

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