System of a Down - _System of a Down_
by: Jody Webb (
Most of my friends in the metal industry would choose this for the debut act of 1998, but I'd reserve that enthusiasm for Ultraspank. I am willing to grant System a #2 in my book, though, primarily due to the original writing, non-formulaic structures, and effective vocals. Overall, I suppose one could describe this as thrash, but the tracks on this disc hit most of the tempos seen in modern music, from a crawl to a high-speed chug, although there is no blast beat here. A few cuts are written in a verse/pre-chorus/chorus arrangement, but, in general, the band does some innovative things with different parts. They manage to touch a bit of folk and polka too, but not for more than a moment. Serge, the vocalist, likes to change up from a spoken word to a throaty death voice to breaking into song, and he does this in most of the right places. The net effect is twelve quality tracks. I can put this disc on a random spin and enjoy it the whole way through. My only qualms here are the political agenda that serves as lyrical content, because I just wanna rock, but the music makes up in a big way. This debut shows more quality tracks than Ultraspank, but lacks the killer singles.
(article published 10/1/1998)
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