System of a Down Biography

Review The Artist (81)

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Not long ago, accepted sonic belief held that rock music, certainly hard rock music, had been stretched, manipulated and tinkered with to its logical end. With no new forms looming, the genre would slip into malaise and the kids would look elsewhere for an outlet. Enter Los Angeles quartet System of a Down, who, over seven years and two albums have revived and revitalized heavy music with their manic brand of post-everything hardcore. Millions of records on, they charge into the new century as living proof that for those brave enough to snub convention, greatness follows.

“I think we're ahead of the game,” says guitarist/songwriter Daron Malakian. “I just feel like this band will be more respected ten years from now when people finally figure out what we’re really doing.”

Malakian, singer Serj Tankian, bassist Shavo Odadjian and drummer John Dolmayan, bonded quickly as friends but also shared Armenian ancestry and mutual disdain for perceived limitations. Their disparate tastes – Jaco Pastorious, Slayer, The Beatles, Faith No More, traditional Armenian folk music – assured from the onset that this would be a band less ordinary.

Malakian says,“We started this band to show people, ‘Look, not everything has been done before.’”

Tankian says, “Humans have been on the earth for millions of years, yet we don’t believe man began thinking until he started building walls. And what good have these walls ever done us?”

System’s 1998 self-titled debut, produced by bearded board whiz Rick Rubin (Slayer, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Public Enemy), was an achievement in pastiche overdrive, a dark carnival of moods punctuated by breakneck tempo shifts and progressive structures. That year, radios rung to the visceral fury of “Sugar” and the spooky tension of “Spiders,” each a fiery baptism for listeners weaned on predictability and rote rhyme schemes.

Serj favors abstract, existential poetry, peppered with politics and personal religion. He says, “No one ultimately knows what they’re saying anyway. Are we really making art? Art doesn’t belong to us. It doesn’t belong to people, it belongs to the universe. It comes FROM the universe. It comes THROUGH us. When I write something, I think I know what I’m saying, but I never pretend to know the full meaning of the words.”

The singer’s quaking wails were the perfect compliment to Daron’s schizoid noodling, Shavo’s inventive lines and John’s potent jazz-cum-thrash rumble. Their first salvo found an instant cult and was heralded as a revolutionary diamond in the homogenous crush of Nü Metal…a label that clearly didn’t (and still doesn’t) fit this foursome.

John says, “I don’t think we sound like anybody else. I consider us System of a Down.”

Shavo says, “You can compare us to whoever you want. I don’t care. Comparisons and labels have no effect on this band. Fact is fact: We are who we are and they are who they are.”

Two years of hard touring followed (OzzFest et al) before the band re-immersed themselves in the studio in late 2000. With Rubin again at the helm, they set about crafting a sprawling blitzkrieg of sounds, one that invited an even wider array of influence and experimentation to the table. Melodies expanded. Riffage went mad. Structure and timing were eviscerated. Deeper lyrical levels were mined and the resulting gems were strewn onto thrashing anthems and careening frenzies of fuzz.

Rubin says, “They really set out to reinvent themselves, to be bigger and better than they were last time. I think they're very proud of their first album and all the touring they did. They wanted to grow from those experiences and expand. They really wanted to write lots and lots of songs and reach in all different directions.”

In August of 2001, System of a Down emerged with their second album, “Toxicity.” As critics scoured their thesauri for ample superlatives, radio and MTV heavily rotated the first single, a harmony-drenched slab of whiplash rock called “Chop Suey.” With the cult of System exploding nationwide, the foursome took to the road where manic throngs of Systemites old and new awaited.

In May of 2002, with the title track from Toxicity in heavy rotation and a third single, “Aerials” fast gaining steam, System accepted the coveted headlining slot on the annual OzzFest circus. The thinking man’s metal troupe aim to give Ozzy’s mobile headbangathon an intellectual facelift.

Shavo says, “It’s time for the bands these kids are listening to to deliver something deeper than just ‘let’s party.’”

Now one year after the triumph of “Toxicity,” System of a Down find themselves in an elite class of rock acts who’ve managed commercial hugeness with dignity in spades and nary a compromise on their resume. They’ve engendered a sound transcendent of trends or labels, a propulsive hybrid destined to flourish in any radio climate from here to forever. What sonic twists await us only they know, but we can rest assured knowing that their next offering, like those that have proceeded, will be born from a primal need to evade classification and emote loudly.

Daron says, “Everyone who knows me knows my music comes before anything. It comes before me. If someone said, "your music will live forever but you won't wake up tomorrow morning, I'd be like, 'Okay.' That's very fair to me.”

Thanks to Tim Hoogland for submitting the biography.

Please click here to submit the latest System of a Down biography

SoaD: you are changing the world | Reviewer: Claudio Bad Neighbour | 4/9/13

Im a 50 yo music fan. I consider myself a music lover. SoaD its something different, powerfull, special, sensitive, cult, mature.... I love them. They showed us the music has no walls, borders. They are free and we follow them wherever they are goiing. Ego brain, Add, phyco, highway song,...i have no time to write the name of the songs that change the world....the music world and make devellope an extrange sensation when you are listening SoaD.

psycho | Reviewer: badal shrestha( | 6/27/12

since tw0 years i had been listening the song of SOAD, i think i'm abs0lutely psycho like dar0n. In my life my first disired is to have a ultimate live c0ncert to watch the SOAD. If I diappeared from this world my soul won't rest in peace please please please performed a live concert in Nepal(dhankuta). Thank U

fuckin crazy and ausumn boom band......... | Reviewer: Niraj Sharma | 12/22/11

i started listening soad three years before,,and i just can't get rid of their sound coz it's really ausumn(can't be explained in words),,they r great inspiration of mine,,love all the members of soad especially daron malakian.The way they represent themself into a stage it's really brilliant. I really wish to send my song to 'Daron Malakian' n i believe we will be really pleasure listening to it. Can't just mention any single song of soad coz all the songs r great,,,,,,,wish to c them in india,,

Love u soad | Reviewer: pUnky pradeep | 8/30/11

Soad is my best band. I listen their songs cuzz they have their own speciality. others say that metallica,etc. are the best ones but soad is all what i like.i can fuck the world just for soad.
soad roks

they r best | Reviewer: samitt | 6/10/11

i like this band more than others the song of hypnotize when u hear the song u really feel hypnotize ur self and i like chop suey'byobe'aerials'holy mountains'cigaro'lonely day'kill rock n roll'bodies they all r best songs which i ever heard lov u system of a down n (my cock is much bigger than urs)

The Signs Are Everywhere! | Reviewer: Knowledge | 5/5/11

“I think we're ahead of the game,” says guitarist/songwriter Daron Malakian. “I just feel like this band will be more respected ten years from now when people finally figure out what we’re really doing.”

they are warning the world of the illuminati and the rise of satan! WAKE UP! were all one! listen to aerials!!

to feel the shine of your eyes peple need the heart wid eyes. | Reviewer: irfan | 11/29/10

i like very much the band system of down but the most favourite person of mine is daron. i am really like to meet him if i wiil get the chance. love you man.i feel the innocence of your eyes and i really like your eyes that speaks when you play guitar. you have gotten worlds most beautiful eyes.GOD bless you man.

kudos | Reviewer: tj stoner | 8/13/10

i dont wanna sound like every one else but kudos to soad i dont think they will get back together i know they will.the very first soad song i heard was b.y.o.b & i was uber high & after that KICK ASS of a day i bought every on of their albums p.s ON VINAL!!!

SOAD ROCKS MAN | Reviewer: Junaid A | 3/22/10

Really there is no comparision of this band with any other in this world.. The agenda which they bring in their music is just awesome. Daron vocals is just 1 in this earth.
I wish a new album moans vry soon.
Haters A$$FÙÇKÈÐ

Amazing. Most quotable lyrics ever. | Reviewer: Anonymous | 2/2/10

Most of their songs lyrics sound random, but don't be deceived. They all have hidden meaning behind them, and all are "quotable." If you do quote their lyrics, anybody who knows the band will instantly know it's them, even if they don't know the song. Their sound is so much more energized than most bands, they are almost like Slipknot, but less angry sounding, as the drum beats are usually slower and more precise sounding. . They don't take themselves too seriously, and they show it in songs like "Cigaro" and "Old School Hollywood." All in all they are a genre of their own, like Slipknot, and they are one of the greatest bands ever. I sincerely hope the Hiatus ends, because I for one miss them severely.

soad!!!!!!!!!!! | Reviewer: Jake mcfadden | 12/24/09

i fucking love soad ur my favorite band in the world!!!i love the way u show people the accual side of life not all this washington bull shit!my favorite song is fuckk the system.and i really think u should make a new album it would give all soad fans a breath of fresh air.please contact me at myspace my name is jake mcfadden and i live in tarpon springs florida!fuck haters!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

i love THIS band forever :))))) | Reviewer: erica <3 | 12/18/09

the first time ive seen the video "byob" i was speechless!!!
and right after that, ive downloaded as many songs POSSIBLE from system of a down!!! they are my all time fave band.people think are the same as any other band. but my words to them is FUUCKK YOU!! theyre hella better!!! hope the band gets back together kuz id SOOO kill to see them come to arizona live!!!! It WOULD BE SOO KILLER :DDD

the best band. | Reviewer: Anonymous | 9/18/09

best band ive ever heard. i dont quite understand how they broke up, but im sure it will all work out in the near future. please come back soad and rock out harder ever than before. soad4life. peace.

SOAD | Reviewer: NikkoB1024 | 9/3/09

SOAD Is One Of The Best Bands In The World, Everyone Gotta agree with that.
But When They Split Up=(, It Was Pretty Bad.
Serj And Scars Are Still Ok But WTF IS SHAVO DOING IN AN RAP BAND!?!?!?!?!?
They Just Gotta Do What THey Want Do, Theyre Choise,
But I Think That They´ll Soon Go Back To SOAD,
Because Serj Just Wanna Make Another Solo Album,
Shavo Is Playing With Wu Tang Lang, And That Will Probably Not Last For Long =),
And Scars Just Split Up....=) =) =) =) =)
What Ive HEard, Serj Says That He´ll Be Done With THe Next Album 2010 =)
So System Will Soon Begin Again =) (I Think XD )

Not a common sound | Reviewer: guy | 6/11/09

When i first heard the band on cd, i was blown away by their energy. Only a few bands, like slayer and sepultura,(gods in their own sound),
have got this unique kind of energy, and it instantly reaches thousands, upon millions of fans.

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