SYSTEM OF A DOWN — Toxicity — the ultimate metal music online community, from the creators of

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4.19 | 103 ratings | 7 reviews
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Album · 2001


1. Prison Song (3:21)
2. Needles (3:13)
3. Deer Dance (2:55)
4. Jet Pilot (2:06)
5. X (1:58)
6. Chop Suey! (3:30)
7. Bounce (1:54)
8. Forest (4:00)
9. ATWA (2:56)
10. Science (2:43)
11. Shimmy (1:51)
12. Toxicity (3:38)
13. Psycho (3:45)
14. Aerials / Arto (hidden track) (6:11)

Total Time: 44:06

Limited Edition Bonus Disc:
1. Sugar (live) (2:27)
2. War? (live) (2:48)
3. Suite-Pee (live) (2:58)
4. Know (live) (3:03)
5. Johnny (2:09)

Total Time: 13:25


- Serj Tankian / vocals, keyboards
- Daron Malakian / guitars, vocals
- Shavo Odadjian / bass
- John Dolmayan / drums

About this release

Released in 2001 by American Recordings as a single CD and Limited Edition Double CD edition.

Thanks to Pekka, Unitron for the updates


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Specialists/collaborators reviews

After gaining a huge cult following with their self-titled 1998 debut, System of a Down exploded worldwide with their 2001 follow-up, 'Toxicity'. With nu metal at its peak, the band's sound was perfect to appeal to fans both old and new, and with one absolute colossal hit, they were ready for worldwide mega stardom.

Following on from where their previous album left off, 'Toxicity' is a fast, furious and frantic release that refuses to let up for a single moment. The chemistry between the band members is incredible, with special mention to unique and eccentric vocalist Serj Tankian and guitarist Daron Malakian's erratic and intense guitar work. Right from start to finish this is a relentless assault on the senses.

Of course, this album is best known for one song, and we all know what that is, don't we? 'Chop Suey'. With its unusual lyrics and unique vocal style, 'Chop Suey', besides being one of the most well-known, beloved and recognizable metal songs of all time, transcends the metal genre. Such is its reputation that non-metal fans love it too!

However, there's more to this release than just one song, and 'Toxicity' is absolutely overflowing with hits. 'Prison Song', 'Science', 'Deer Dance', 'Jet Pilot', 'Bounce', 'Psycho' and 'Shimmy' are all incredible songs that are definitely worth a listen, and then there's the title track and closing track 'Aerials', which were both released as singles and, while not as well known as 'Chop Suey', have still gone on to become metal classics in their own right.

With the release of 'Toxicity', System of a Down became one of those few bands that are truly in a league of their own, and who's future will forever be defined by this album. A monumental success and one of metals most revered albums, there's really no excuses for not hearing this by now!
Wildly experimental, like Primus doing a take on extreme metal at points with lyrics in the vein of a much more direct and heavy-handed Rage Against the Machine, System of a Down's Toxicity in principle is a wildly diverse calvacade of styles but in practice is a bit of a mess. It had the bad luck to come out a mere week before 9/11, which meant that a bunch of fresh political concerns couldn't be addressed on it, but otherwise I guess it is a decent enough snapshot of its time lyrically speaking, but it's a little too often weird for weird's sake. (In particular, the Primus-isms they sometimes indulge in manage to be more irritating than actual Primus.)
siLLy puPPy
After a promising debut all comes together in a magnificent way for SYSTEM OF A DOWN on TOXICITY. This is a landmark of metal of sort as nothing in all of metal or music at large sounds like it. Although the band itself refers to their unique hybrid of musical styles modestly as pop music, they have in fact developed a unique sonicscape residing on the alternative branch of metal previously getting lumped in with all those rap rock groups that were popular around the same time. It's not really farfetched since the lyrics are often half rapped and half sung. SOAD were just far more sophisticated in their compositions and creativity than many of their contemporaries.

This album delivers a vitriolic bite as it vituperates the power structure and its long list of injustices while keeping the listener engaged with clever and genre bending twists and turns that take the listener from soft melodic acoustic passages to hard repetitious thrash riffing in an instant. Serj Tankian is a master of alternating everything from melodic harmonies to death metal growls and back again without the slightest stumble. The guitar, bass and drums are tight but playful as well. They weave a musical tapestry that incorporate the harmonies of the individual players and then play together in unison in an instant often offering faint dissonance for contrast all sewn together with a nerdy prog charm and even show their sense of humor with the thrash pogo stick party on “Bounce.”

This is one of those rare albums that seems to have mass popular appeal as it is brutal enough to please extreme metalheads, melodic enough for the traditional crowd and unique enough to fulfill its inclusion into the alternative world. It debuted at #1 on Billboard's album charts and has sold a gazillion copies. Phenomenal album that I personally never tire of hearing. Five Hollywood Stars for this toxic concoction of inflamed fusion that only SOAD could deliver.
The Angry Scotsman
This is an album I have long avoided reviewing, not because I dislike it...but in fact because it has such a meaning to me I was not sure I could be fair, or do it true justice, (or write anything better than how awesome it is). System of a Down was the first band I truly listened to, they got me into music, and the rest is history. This was the first album I ever heard, (as well the first I ever bought)back as a 14 year old high school freshman. Back then this album was barely a year old and still hot, with "Chop Suey" playing all over the radio, especially in weight room where I and the other lazy kids would avoid doing gym and rocked out to this instead.

Today, almost 10 years later I listen to this album and SoaD, and while unsure how I would feel...I love it more than ever! What was a heavy, angsty, political album that was kind of odd I can now appreciate for its music and composition.

Onto the music itself, while too many hear the real heavy riffing and 3 minute songs and instantly yell "nu metal!" that is far from the case. I mean, have any other nu metal bands cited Frank Zappa as influence? Korn could not even dream of these unorthodox song structures, packed with a variety of instrumentation and vocal styles, often stop and go in nature, with wild, (often abrupt) changes in tempo and style. All jammed into short songs, usually with political/social commentary. Punk ethos meets alt metal.

However, not all the songs are energetic moshes, some are mellow, some melodic and powerful. The lyrics are also some of my favorite, ranging from straight out political like "Prison Song" about the US Prison system and war on drugs... to how "Science has failed our world, science has failed our mother Earth". Now that's a trip. The lyrics aren't always so straightforward and usually are multifaceted or open to interpretation (a la Tool and Deftones) and sometimes make use of humor.

Serj's vocal display really pulls it together. His voice is just amazing, and he covers the whole spectrum. Clean singing, non pitched "thrash metal" screaming, growls, a harsher yelling. They are not excessive or too harsh, generally accessible for a metal audience, and he just fits the music perfectly and can hit so many tiny moments so well. One of the better vocalists in metal.

Serj is the guy, but there are also melodies with Daron, with his unique higher singing style.

Musically, this album is a bit deeper than what appears on the surface. There is tons of no frills, heavy, angry guitar playing and I do mean lots of it. The riffing is drop C, muddy, and bludgeoning. However, that is just the tip of the iceberg. Often simple, the guitar work is just as often cleaner, melodic and even a lot of the heavy stuff is thrashier than the norm. There are some really sweet melodies and riffs to be found throughout. SoaD also uses acoustic guitars, 12 stringers, sitars, and mandolins.

The drumming is pretty straightforward, but also jazz tinged and with a real sense of groove and feel. Yes, jazz tinged...heard in a lot of John's unorthodox beats and especially at the end of "Shimmy". Just a great feel drummer that can surprise you, with either melodicism or the occasional blast beat! Always fitting.

Shavo's bass is almost always audible, but never too prevalent. Just right and, like John's drumming, is something I never noticed when I was younger. Not mind blowing with virtuoso skill, but always appropriate, with lots of cool moments. Sometimes just "bottom filler" for the heavy parts and sometimes stand alone his bass playing is solid and then some.

I mentioned the variety of styles, with some notable examples being the very thrashy "Jet Pilot" inspired by one of their favorite bands, Slayer, "Science" which has a really awesome middle eastern sounding interlude, "Shimmy" has some prominent jazz influenced rock drumming, "X" is an intense song with a weird second half, and "Psycho" a funny song to the cocaine fueled groupies with a guitar solo! Yes. A melodic, powerful solo backed with sitar and other gentle instruments and a light drum beat. Amazingly moving piece. "Bounce" is another funny, weird song. Very weird.

I'll finish with my 3 favorite songs, starting with its most famous song "Chop Suey!" An acoustic guitar riff starts off, quickly backed by mandolin, clean electric guitar and a scattering drum beat before the heavy kicks in. Alternates between a staccato, distorted riff and a mellow, clean movement filled with strings. A nice thrashing leads to an extremely powerful ending, punctuated with keyboard. The songs famously cryptic lyrics have been attributed to suicide, the bible, child/domestic abuse. Maybe it's none of the above, or a little of it all. Very powerful, moving song.

'ATWA" is another powerful song, switching between quiet, mellow parts and beautiful harmonized singing with heavy, pounding sections and yelling. Moving piece of music, with a title alluding to the philosophy of Charles Manson: Air, Trees, Water, Animals dealing with the unity of all living things and ecosystems of Earth in a spiritual context. Could never figure out what the lyrics mean but I always thought it was either about man ruining the environment, nature watching us go on with our lives, or a different angle on Charles Manson. Still not very sure.

"Aerials" is my favorite on the album. A beautiful song, no other way to put it. Over 6 minutes long but the last half is actually one of those hidden songs, a tribal sounding Armenian folk song.

More varied than the bands debut album, though still unmistakably them, this is not only a classic of alt metal, but in all of metal. Released on the cusp of the scene's transition to metalcore, the album is a breath of fresh air to the dying alt metal scene, and in general. The band's blend of accessibility and experimentation, is a huge success. If you want to rock out to its epic heaviness or chill to its moving beauty, then go ahead. Just realize that musically, while this album is not about technical skill so much, it is a great display. The song writing, texture, melodies and subtlety can easily be lost.

Masterpiece. Five Stars

Friggin' Brilliant

I was doing an hour and a quarter commute each way when my brother loaned me a bunch of CDs for my time, and included was Toxicity. I think I've forgotten all the other CDs but I remember exactly where I was on the trip during certain songs on this disc the first time I heard them. That's how good and how fresh this CD was, and for the most part it still is.

The first and biggest single "Chop Suey" is SOAD in a song: quick rhythms, extremely harsh but spot-on harmony vocals, repetition of lyrics, abrupt transitions, and thrashable riffs. Perfect use of open space. Intelligent lyrics. Oops there were too many things too list in one sentence despite the song only being 3:30.

Every song on this album is amazing. And despite the fact that "Bounce," "Prision Song," and "Toxicity" all sound quite different, the album holds together perfectally. As an aside, the Pac-man beat of "Bounce" may be the most powerful inducement to jump and down I've ever heard on record. I remember laughing out loud in my car, alone, simply dumbfounded with the brilliance of the wackiness of that song the first time I heard it.

SOAD sometimes gets lumped with nu-metal, but they really have almost nothing to do with rap rock. Serj's abrasive voice certainly owes to punk screamers, but he has more command of melody than virtually any metal singer of his time. He can hold on dissonant notes at will, often in harmony with guitarist Daron Malakian.

What's more, the riffs are killer. "Forest" borrows a little bit from Republica's hit "Ready to Go," but turns what was a great riff over a pointless frat-rock song into a monster piece of metal. Similarly, despite being an enormous needlenose during interviews and a ham onstage, Daron's musical talent is undeniable.

Bottom Line: If this isn't a masterpiece of alternative metal, no such thing exists.
I had heard a few songs from their debut by the time Toxicity came out, but as for hundreds of thousands of other people, it was Chop Suey! from this album that got me hooked on System of a Down. Mad start-stop rhythms, guitar picked like a balalaika, a powerful vocal performance and the seamless slide from aggressive metal to an emotional piano-flavored finale make this one a true modern metal classic.

But here it's just a song among the others. With their second album SoaD got faster and heavier than before in songs like Jet Pilot and Bounce, and elsewhere more impressively emotional like in ATWA and the brilliant closer Aerials. And in between we get several brilliant modern metal masterworks like Prison Song, Deer Dance, Forest and Psycho.

The little that Toxicity loses to its predecessor in out of control reckless insanity, it gains in a more organized attack, more streamlined (I'm not necessarily saying better) production and its extremes being spread more apart. A killer follower for a killer album.

Members reviews

Daniel de Oliveira
This is my first review here and i could not let to talk about this album. Toxicity is the System Of a Down masterpiece and we can find here great songs. I can confess that never like much nu-metal but after listening this album i changed my opinion. The album shows incredible songs as Chop Suey and Aerials with great riffs and vocals. System Of a Down shows here that the metal do not need to be using the same bored ways from tradicional metal to be heavy metal. Here they only using heavy good riffs and the right melody make and wonderfull album

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