System of a Down-Steal This Album! Review
By Shawn McKenzie 12/16/2002
Last year I declared System of a Down’s album Toxicity as the best album of 2001. Unfortunately, I didn’t have a web site at the time to declare it throughout the world. Things are different this time around with SOAD’s new album, Steal This Album! While it’s not the best album of the year (sorry, that honor still goes to the Dixie Chicks’ Home), this being December, I’m sure it will land in my top five.
System of a Down is another of those bands lumped into the “nu-metal” category, yet they sound like no other band out there. I first heard of the band from their 1998 self-titled debut album, or more specifically the single “Sugar.” Its fast groove and intensity reminded me of a little known hair metal band from the late ‘80s/early ‘90s named Scatterbrain. Yet while Scatterbrain went for laughs with their psychotic sound, SOAD just was plain psychotic. I didn’t think to pick up the album at the time, because the record company made the bad decision to release the most normal song on the album, “Spiders,” as the second single. I must have lost interest in the band because of it, because I didn’t get the album until this year. Last year, I started hearing the first single Toxicity called “Chop Suey!” The title alone was unusual, and I found myself anticipating hearing the song again on the radio over and over, kind of like I did when I first heard “Sugar.” I didn’t make the same mistake of not buying the album, and I have been happy about that decision ever since. When this new album came out, I knew before it was released that I wanted it.
Steal This Album! has been described as the outtakes for the Toxicity sessions. It’s pretty cool when one band’s leftovers are tastier than most other bands’ main courses. This album is faster overall than Toxicity, but it is still memorable. The slowest songs on the album is probably “Ego Brain” and “Roulette” (done very creepily with strings and acoustic guitar), but they are cool. The album in whole doesn’t feel like “leftovers.” In fact, I’d rather hear most of these songs again than “Aerials” off of Toxicity for the five millionth time (I love the album and the song, but I don’t know about where you live, here in Denver it is played 500 times a day on the radio.) The album starts off with an extreme punch with the unusually titled “Chic ‘N’ Stu,” a song that starts off sounding like a chicken soup recipe, but ends up being a rant against advertising (their political points have always sounded a little goofy to me.) That leads into one of their more normal-sounding tunes, the first single “Innervision.” One of the songs, “I-E-A-I-A-I-O,” reminded me of Korn’s “Shoots and Ladders” from their 1994 self-titled debut album, because they both felt like psychotic re-workings of children’s songs (this one being “Old MacDonald Had a Farm,” of course.)
Don’t make the mistake of thinking that Steal This Album! is an album not worthy of being among your regular albums because it is a supposed “table scraps” album. It certainly doesn’t feel like one. Oh…and one more thing…please don’t take the title literally. I want this band to get paid so they can put out more of the freshest, most unusual metal for years to come.
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BUY THIS ALBUM NOW!
Buy this album when you get the money...
Burn a copy of your friend's album...
Listen to your friend's album at his/her house...
Throw away your friend's album or use it as a coaster!