System of a Down

From Academic Kids

System of a Down (circa ) left to right: , ,  and
System of a Down (circa 2002) left to right: Serj Tankian, Shavo Odadjian, Daron Malakian and John Dolmayan

System of a Down are an alternative metal band from Glendale, California, USA consisting of Serj Tankian (vocals, keyboards), John Dolmayan (drums), Daron Malakian (guitar, vocals) and Shavo Odadjian (bass), and known for their distinctive dress styles and goatees. All four members are of Armenian ancestry, and many of their songs are about Armenian political and social issues (such as the Armenian Genocide).


History, style and influences

System of a Down use a wide range of instruments, including baritone electric guitars, electric mandolins, sitars, 12-string classical guitars and many other East Asian instruments. Their main influence is noticeably the veteran heavy metal bands Black Sabbath and Slayer, but they also draw on punk rock, jazz, fusion, Armenian folk music, classic rock, blues, and industrial metal.

The band enjoyed moderate success with their first singles, "Sugar", "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 going multi-platinum. The album was #1 in America on the week of the September 11, 2001 attacks. Their first big hit was the controversial "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", off their second album, Toxicity, and "Innervision" off their third album, Steal This Album!.

Their third album, containing songs from the Toxicity recording sessions that didn't feel right for Toxicity were released as 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, and the other four featured designs by individual band members.

In 2004, the band recorded two brand new albums for release in 2005 that are being released approximately 4 to 6 months apart from each other. They are Mezmerize and Hypnotize. Mezmerize was released in the United States, UK and Europe on May 17 2005, and was released in Australia on May 22 2005, while Hypnotize will be released approximately four to six months after. The dates and order of release for these two albums were somewhat controversial among fans and fan sites in early 2005, as some believed that the release was to be in the opposite order and the first one was to come out in April. In early January, 2005, a new track called "Cigaro" was purposefully leaked onto the internet to praise from fans, followed by the release of the single "BYOB"(Bring Your Own Bombs), which is working its way up the North American singles charts. Mezmerize immediately shot 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 #1 in over a dozen other countries, including Canada, Japan, Australia, Germany, and France. Initial critic reviews have been overwhelmingly favorable.

Nu metal or not?

A common debate amongst fans of the band - and heavy metal fans in general - is the topic of the band's genre: Are they nu metal (a term which to some people brings negative connotations), or is their music better described as simply heavy metal? Vocalist Serj Tankian said in an interview he thought the band could not be placed in any specific genre.

It is argued by some that System of a Down rarely feature guitar solos, use simple guitar riffs and have typical nu metal song structure (verse, chorus, verse, chorus, bridge, chorus), and thus should be considered a nu metal band.

These arguments are counteracted by the fact that they have not included rap in any of their songs (though they made the songs Shame on a Nigga with Wu-Tang Clan and Feel Good with (Hed) P.E.), a typical, if not defining, characteristic of nu metal, but instead use occasional screams and growls that are typical of death metal. Another typical component of nu metal, the turntable, is not part of the band's instrumentation.

System of a Down have been labelled as nu metal by 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 1990s. In addition, the band toured with Ozzfest, a festival that features many up and coming metal bands, including some nu metal acts.

Guitarist Daron Malakian was quoted in the magazine Guitar World as saying that he was glad that System of a Down had not slipped into the nu metal genre.


Previous members



  1. System of a Down (30 June 1998) #124 US
  2. Toxicity (4 September 2001) #1 US, #13 UK
  3. Steal This Album! (26 November 2002) #15 US, #56 UK
  4. Mezmerize (17 May, 2005) #1 US, #2 UK
  5. Hypnotize (11 September, 2005)


Music Videos

External links

de:System Of A Down es:System of a Down fr:System of a Down he:סיסטם אוף א דאון lt:System of a Down hu:System of a Down id:System of a Down nl:System Of A Down pl:System Of A Down fi:System of a Down sv:System of a Down


Academic Kids Menu

  • Art and Cultures
    • Art (
    • Architecture (
    • Cultures (
    • Music (
    • Musical Instruments (
  • Biographies (
  • Clipart (
  • Geography (
    • Countries of the World (
    • Maps (
    • Flags (
    • Continents (
  • History (
    • Ancient Civilizations (
    • Industrial Revolution (
    • Middle Ages (
    • Prehistory (
    • Renaissance (
    • Timelines (
    • United States (
    • Wars (
    • World History (
  • Human Body (
  • Mathematics (
  • Reference (
  • Science (
    • Animals (
    • Aviation (
    • Dinosaurs (
    • Earth (
    • Inventions (
    • Physical Science (
    • Plants (
    • Scientists (
  • Social Studies (
    • Anthropology (
    • Economics (
    • Government (
    • Religion (
    • Holidays (
  • Space and Astronomy
    • Solar System (
    • Planets (
  • Sports (
  • Timelines (
  • Weather (
  • US States (


  • Home Page (
  • Contact Us (

  • Clip Art (
Personal tools