Steal This Album!

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For the album by The Coup, see Steal This Album.
Steal This Album!
Studio album by System of a Down
Released November 26, 2002
Recorded 2002
Genre Alternative metal, hard rock
Length 43:22
Label American Recordings/Columbia/SME Records
Producer Rick Rubin, Daron Malakian
System of a Down chronology
Toxicity
(2001)
Steal This Album!
(2002)
Mezmerize
(2005)
Singles from Steal This Album!
  1. "Innervision"
    Released: October 2002
  2. "Boom!"
    Released: 2003

Steal This Album! is the third studio album by Armenian American rock band System of a Down, released on November 26, 2002, on American Recordings. The album was produced by Rick Rubin and Daron Malakian, and reached #15 in the Billboard Top 200.[1]

Album information[edit]

This album was released shortly after a collection of medium-quality MP3s found its way onto the Internet under the unofficial name Toxicity II, a year after the release of the group's multi-platinum record, Toxicity. The band issued a statement expressing their disappointment that their fans were hearing unfinished material, and released the finished versions of the leaked material. Most, but not all tracks from the original leak (e.g. "Cherry") made it onto Steal This Album!, and three new tracks including "Roulette" were also added. Many song titles, lyrics, and melodies were changed, making the new album significantly different from the unfinished product.

Though often reported in the media as being a collection of B-sides and outtakes, the band insists that the Steal This Album! material is of the same quality as the tracks which made it onto Toxicity. Vocalist Serj Tankian has said that the songs were left out of Toxicity "because they did not fit the overall continuity of the album". In May 2009, drummer John Dolmayan revealed that the album is his favorite System of a Down release.[2] Similarly, Tankian expressed his fondness for the album in a 2012 AMA on Reddit.

An alternate version of "Streamline" was used in The Scorpion King soundtrack, which was released in early 2002, and as a B-side on some copies of the "Aerials" single.

The album title is a reference to Abbie Hoffman's book Steal This Book, which is regarded as a classic example of counterculture literature. A similar title (Steal This Movie!) was used for a movie about Hoffman's life. A year prior to this album however, The Suicide Machines had already released an album entitled Steal This Record. The Coup had also released a Steal This Album in 1998. However, the album track entitled Fuck the System is a clear reference to an earlier Hoffman essay.

The packaging for this album is quite unusual. The album comes in a normal CD jewel case with only a disc and no booklet. On the CD and the back of the case, the text is styled as if written by a black permanent marker, in faux-bootleg appearance. This is an obvious response by the band to those who leaked the original Toxicity II CD.

Most songs on the album have received little appearance in concert. However, songs "Mr. Jack" and "I-E-A-I-A-I-O" were played extensively to live audiences.

After the end of the band's hiatus in 2011, the only songs to have been played from the album are "I-E-A-I-A-I-O", "Mr. Jack", "Innervision", and "Roulette". In the 2013 tour they played also "A.D.D.".[3]

Multi-instrumentalist Arto Tunçboyacıyan sings on the song "Bubbles", making his third appearance with System of a Down (having appeared on two songs on Toxicity).

Reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Aggregate scores
Source Rating
Metacritic 77/100[4]
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 4/5 stars[5]
Blender 2.5/5 stars[6]
Entertainment Weekly B+[7]
Rolling Stone 3/5 stars[8]
Spin 8/10[9]
Sputnikmusic 4.5/5[10]
  • CMJ (12/16/02, p. 23) - "Both arty aggro and perverted political punk."
  • Entertainment Weekly (11/29/02, p. 105) - "Steal This Album stands head-and-tattooed shoulders above its competition in the hard-rock genre."
  • Rolling Stone (12/12/02, p. 93) - "An absurdist blast of political rage, silly theater and shattered math metal."
  • Spin (2/03, p. 96) - 8 out of 10 - "The way these simple songs blur together works in the album's favor: Just when you think you've got a foothold, the ground disappears under your feet."

Alternative covers[edit]

In the United Kingdom and United States releases of Steal This Album!, for a limited time four alternative versions of the disc artwork were available. Each were designed by a member of the band. One featured an entirely blue background with text swirling into the center. One was a drawing of crude stylized flames, accompanied by text. The third was black and gray, depicting a skull with writing in the mouth. The fourth, and perhaps most controversial featured two 'V' shapes, crossing over in the center to create a diamond. One 'V' was entirely blue, and the other red and white striped. If looked at close enough, it becomes apparent that the "V shapes" are actually legs, meaning a woman (in the red and white) is laying on her back with her legs in the air, while a man (in blue) is standing over her, symbolizing the fact of how the American society is so connected with sexual acts. These versions are considered very rare. Additionally, the vinyl edition of the album was released as a double picture disc with each design featuring as a side of the album.

In Europe and the UK the standard version includes a one sided front insert, the reason for this being that most CDs in the UK are not sold sealed so it might appear that the cover had been stolen had it been shipped without it. It is all white with the album title in black, similar to the original CD cover. The insert contains minimal information and contains a link to the official website for more track information.

Track listing[edit]

No. Title Lyrics Music Length
1. "Chic 'N' Stu"   Tankian Malakian 2:23
2. "Innervision"   Tankian Malakian, Tankian 2:33
3. "Bubbles" (feat. Arto Tunçboyacıyan) Tankian Malakian 1:56
4. "Boom!"   Tankian Malakian, Odadjian 2:14
5. "Nüguns"   Tankian, Malakian Malakian 2:30
6. "A.D.D. (American Dream Denial)"   Tankian Malakian 3:17
7. "Mr. Jack"   Tankian, Malakian Malakian 4:09
8. "I-E-A-I-A-I-O"   Tankian Tankian, Malakian, Odadjian, Dolmayan 3:08
9. "36"   Tankian Tankian 0:46
10. "Pictures"   Tankian, Malakian Malakian 2:06
11. "Highway Song"   Tankian, Malakian Malakian 3:13
12. "Fuck the System"   Tankian Malakian, Tankian 2:12
13. "Ego Brain"   Tankian, Malakian Malakian, Tankian 3:21
14. "Thetawaves"   Tankian, Malakian Malakian 2:36
15. "Roulette"   Tankian Malakian, Tankian 3:21
16. "Streamline"   Tankian Malakian 3:37
Total length:
43:22

Personnel[edit]

System of a Down
Production

Charting performance[edit]

Singles
Year Single Chart Position
2003 "Innervision" Mainstream Rock Tracks 14
Modern Rock Tracks 12

References[edit]

  1. ^ http://www.billboard.com/artist/281380/system-down/chart[dead link]
  2. ^ Interview: John Dolmayan (System of a Down/Scars on Broadway) at the Wayback Machine (archived July 23, 2012)
  3. ^ http://www.onstageweb.com/scaletta-concerto/system-of-a-down-milano-27-agosto-2013-scaletta/
  4. ^ "Steal This Album". Metacritic. 
  5. ^ "Steal This Album! - System of a Down". Allmusic. 
  6. ^ http://www.blender.com/guide/reviews.aspx?id=242[dead link]
  7. ^ "Steal This Album Review". Entertainment Weekly. November 29, 2002. 
  8. ^ Blashill, Pat (November 19, 2002). "System of a Down: Steal This Album: Music Reviews". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on April 28, 2007. Retrieved January 28, 2012. 
  9. ^ "System of a Down, 'Steal This Album!' (American Recordings/Columbia)". Spin. 
  10. ^ "System of a Down - Steal This Album! (staff review)". Sputnikmusic. 
  11. ^ "ARIA Charts – Accreditations – 2003 Albums". Australian Recording Industry Association. 
  12. ^ "Brazilian album certifications – System of a Down – System of a Down" (in Portuguese). Associação Brasileira dos Produtores de Discos. 
  13. ^ a b The first web page presents the sales figures, the second presents the certification limits:
  14. ^ "American album certifications – System of a Down – Steal This Album!". Recording Industry Association of America.  If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Album, then click SEARCH