System of a Down

Members: Serj Tankian, Daron Malakian, Shavo Odadjian, John Dolmayan

Active: 1995 - present


System of a Down (sometimes referred to as S.O.A.D.) is a Alternative metal band from Los Angeles, California. The band consists of Serj Tankian (vocals, keyboards), John Dolmayan (drums), Daron Malakian (guitar, vocals) and Shavo Odadjian (bass), who are known more for the outspoken social and political views found in their songs than for their distinctive dress styles and goatees. All four members are of Armenian ancestry.

System of a Down uses a wide range of instruments, including baritone electric guitars, electric mandolins, sitars, 12-string classical guitars and many other East Asian instruments. Their main influences are most noticeably from earlier alternative rock bands, but they also draw influence from the heavy metal, punk rock, jazz, fusion, Armenian folk music, classic rock, blues, and industrial genres.

The band enjoyed moderate success with their first singles, "Sugar", ranked number 9 on the top 50 Songs that changed the world by Kerrang magazine, "Suite-Pee" and "Spiders", from their debut album System of a Down. However, their big break came from their critically acclaimed second album, Toxicity, which debuted at #1 on the American and Canadian charts, eventually achieving multi-platinum certification. The album was #1 in America on the week of the September 11, 2001 attacks and the political environment caused by the attacks added to the controversy surrounding their hit single "Chop Suey!", released in the late summer of 2001. System of a Down received constant airplay in the United States throughout late 2001 and 2002 with their hits, "Chop Suey!", "Toxicity", "Aerials", from their second album, Toxicity, and "Innervision" from their third album, Steal This Album!.

In November 2002 their third album, which contains songs which were recorded for but not included in the first two albums, was released under the name Steal This Album!. Early recordings of most of the songs had leaked out onto the internet and were well received by the fans resulting in the subsequent release. There are five different designs of the album available. One version of the CD resembles a CD Recordable that was labeled with a felt-tip marker. 50,000 copies of each of the other four featured designs were released. The four individual band members; Serj, Shavo, Daron and John; each designed one of the special covers.

In 2004, the band recorded two brand new albums named Mezmerize and Hypnotize. Mezmerize was released in the United States and Europe on May 17 2005, and in Australia on May 22 2005, while Hypnotize is to be released in the United States on November 22. In early January, 2005, a new track called "Cigaro" was purposely leaked onto the internet to be praised from fans, followed by the release of the single "B.Y.O.B. (Bring Your Own Bombs)", which worked its way up the North American singles charts. In January too they played at Big Day Out in Oceania a song for their up-coming album Hypnotize called Tentative. The next single was Question!, with bassist Shavo Odadjian co-directing the video. Mezmerize was a successful release for the band, immediately shooting up to the top of the US charts, making it the group's second consecutive number-one debut. First week sales rocketed to over 800,000 copies worldwide, with the album debuting at number-one in over a dozen other countries, including Canada, Japan, Australia, Germany, and France. The album has also been generally well received by critics. In late September, 2005, the band filmed the first (official) single "Hypnotize" for the second disc. The single was released late September, to be broadcast on radio stations.


There is some contention over the band's genre regarding whether they are nu metal, which can carry negative connotations to some, or alternative metal.

System of a Down has been labeled as "nu metal" by some fans and media since their incarnation. This can be attributed to the release of their first album, which occurred during the "nu metal" boom of the mid-to-late '90s. The band also toured with Ozzfest, a festival that typically features many up-and-coming nu metal bands. Their music features guitar solos, a common trait of traditional metal bands. Their guitar riffs are also strongly reminiscent of those found in thrash metal.

Those who disagree with the nu metal label argue that System of a Down uses no rapping or turntables in any of their songs. Such hip-hop influences are typical traits of nu metal.

Guitarist Daron Malakian has said in a Guitar World interview that he is glad System of a Down has not slipped into the nu metal genre. During a 2005 concert, he announced, "They used to call us nu-metal, now they call us prog rock. I think they'll call us anything that's popular."

In a 2005 interview with the Houston Press, Malakian said, -Lately, we've been doing interviews, and people have been like, 'You guys are really leading the way for the new prog movement,' and I'm like, 'What?' Because a couple of years ago, these guys were comparing us to Limp Bizkit and Korn, and now that we're still here and those bands aren't, they're talking about prog. It's just kind of aggravating that people always have to have something to compare us to, or bunch us up with. I'm not saying we're the most original band in the world, but I don't really feel that we fall into a heavy-metal category or a pure rock category. There's a lot of stuff mixed up into one.


All four of the band members are of Armenian ancestry, and they have pursued recognition of the Armenian Genocide by the U.S. and Turkish governments through both music and political action. The lyrics of many of the band's songs deal with this issue. "P.L.U.C.K." (Politically Lying Unholy Cowardly Killers) is a song about the Genocide (this song is played in the movie Ararat). The album booklet entry regarding the song says: "System Of A Down would like to dedicate this song to the memory of the 1.5 million victims of the Armenian Genocide, perpetrated by the Turkish Government in 1915." The Armenian Genocide is still highly sensitive in certain communities. The government of Turkey still denies that the events were genocide. The song "Holy Mountains" was revealed to regard to the Armenian Genocide by Tankian on the Axis of Justice radio network. Another song thought to be about the Armenian Genocide is "X".


1998 - System of a Down

2001 - Toxicity

2002 - Steal This Album!

2005 - Mezmerize

2005 - Hypnotize


1998 - Sugar System of a Down

1999 - Spiders System of a Down

2000 - War? System of a Down

2000 - The Metro Dracula 2000 [Soundtrack]

2001 - Chop Suey! Toxicity

2002 - Toxicity Toxicity

2002 - Aerials Toxicity

2003 - Innervision Steal This Album!

2003 - Boom! Steal This Album!

2003 - I-E-A-I-A-I-O Steal This Album!

2005 - B.Y.O.B. Mezmerize

2005 - Question! Mezmerize

2005 - Hypnotize

2006 - Lonely Day

2006 - Kill Rock 'n Roll

2006 - Attack

2006 - Dreaming

2006 - Tenative

2006 - U-Fig

2006 - Vicinity Of Obscenity

2006 - She's Like Heroin

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