System of a Down 

Steal This Record! (American)

After a dozen-plus demos from its Toxicity recording sessions made it onto the Internet, the innovative thrash band System of a Down polished up a few of those unfinished tracks, along with some other previously unheard material, and sent it out into the world.

Unfortunately, this record is for diehards only, a fact that becomes uncomfortably clear upon first playing. Aside from "Boom!" and "F**k the System," most of the songs here were obviously left off Toxicity (and the band's self-titled debut, as some of them are reportedly quite old) because they were not as good as the material slated for inclusion.

System's melodic and rhythmic quirks once catapulted it ahead of the rap-rocking mooks with whom the band emerged. But now its eccentricity has hardened into a perilous orthodoxy. Their style is different, but it will get boring really fast if they keep hammering it into the ground like this. Every song is a lesser version of a Toxicity track, except the acoustic ballad "Roulette," which is the most ill advised of them all. Who the hell wants a strum-along from System of a Down? If you're one of the few, do as the album title suggests.

More by Phil Freeman


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