Steal This Album!

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Steal This Album!
Studio album by
ReleasedNovember 26, 2002
GenreNu metal[1]
System of a Down chronology
Steal This Album!

Steal This Album! is the third studio album by American heavy metal band System of a Down, released on November 26, 2002, by American Recordings and Columbia Records. Produced by Rick Rubin and Daron Malakian, it peaked at number 15 on the US Billboard 200.[2]


In early 2002, medium-quality MP3s of the album were released on the internet under the name Toxicity II. The band issued a statement expressing disappointment that fans were hearing material that was unfinished, and they worked to release a completed, better quality version of the album, which became Steal This Album!.[3]


Though often reported in the media as being a collection of B-sides and outtakes, the band insisted 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.[4] Similarly, Tankian also called the album his favorite System of a Down album in a 2012 AMA on reddit.[5]

A first version of "Streamline" was used in The Scorpion King soundtrack, which was released in early 2002, and as a B-side on the CD2 edition of "Aerials".

After the end of the band's hiatus in 2011, the only songs to have been played from the album are "Pictures", "Highway Song", "I-E-A-I-A-I-O", "Mr. Jack", "Innervision", and "Roulette". In the 2013 tour they played also "A.D.D.".[6] During their 2015 Wake Up the Souls Tour, the songs "Bubbles" and "Chic 'N' Stu" were played in concert.[7] In 2017 setlists in Europe, the band regularly performed the songs "Mr. Jack", "Pictures", "Highway Song" and "Roulette".[8]

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).

Commenting on the track "I-E-A-I-A-I-O", drummer John Dolmayan said it was inspired by an encounter he had with Knight Rider actor David Hasselhoff in a liquor store in Los Angeles when he was around 12:[9]

He was getting a drink, not an alcoholic beverage, a soda or something. He was walking out and I couldn't believe it! Here was Knight Rider in front of me! And I said, 'Knight Rider!' I must have been 12. He looked at me and he goes, 'Hey kid,' and he kind of pointed the finger [at me] cowboy style. I told Serj the story, so the lyrics, 'Meeting John at Dale's Jr. / Winked an eye and point a finger.' 'Dale's Jr.' was the liquor store. There's a little insight.

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Aggregate scores
Review scores
AllMusic4/5 stars[11]
Alternative Press4.5/5 stars[12]
Entertainment WeeklyB+[13]
NME3.5/5 stars[15]
Slant Magazine4/5 stars[16]
Spin4/5 stars[17]
Sputnikmusic4.5/5 stars[18]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide3/5 stars[19]

The album received generally favorable reviews from music critics scoring 77 out of 100 on aggregate website Metacritic.[20] Giving the album 4 stars out of 5 in his review for AllMusic Chris True noted "If System proved anything with 2001's Toxicity, it's that they're one of the few breaths of fresh air out there in mainstream metal land. This collection is no different, and with its amazing pacing, it's hard to not be moved by what this band can do".[21] "Steal This Album stands head-and-tattooed shoulders above its competition in the hard-rock genre" said Entertainment Weekly in a mutually glowing review, awarding the album a B+ rating.[22]

Rolling Stone called Steal This Album "An absurdist blast of political rage, silly theater and shattered math metal."[19] Jeremy Gladstone of Kludge gave the album a score of 7 out of 10 in his review and both praised and criticized the album writing "Love them or hate them, System is here to stay. The writing is consistent and the music is as tight as we have been accustomed to, perhaps a degree more so at times on the album. Steal This Album is guaranteed to satisfy every System of a Down fan listening. However, from song eight to twelve on the album, the material is a little too similar to really stand out compared to the more intense tracks. Unreleased material can sometimes be good, and sometimes it still doesn’t work out".[23]

In an article for NME sub-titled "...insane, ridiculous, a brain-pan pizza with extra mushrooms..." Victoria Segal gave Steal This Album 3.5 stars out of 5 in a less flattering review stating "System Of A Down‘s concerns may be no laughing matter, but unfortunately, their music often is. Guitarist Daron Malakian describes this record as “a bridge between ‘Toxicity’ and our next record,” which only indicates troubled waters ahead". She did however end her review with "Yes, System Of A Down are insane, ridiculous, a brain-pan pizza with extra mushrooms. But how can something this righteous ever be wrong?"[24]

Alternative artwork[edit]

There are four limited-edition alternate CD designs, each designed and drawn by a member of the band. Tankian's is blue with a poem in white spiraling into its center, Odadjian's is red with psychedelic flames, Dolmayan's is black with a gray skull incorporating the album's title into its teeth, and Malakian's is white with the legs of a man (in jeans) and woman (in red stockings). The vinyl edition of the album was released as a double picture disc with each side featuring one of these designs.

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]

All lyrics written by Serj Tankian, except where noted. All music written by Daron Malakian, except where noted.

1."Chic 'N' Stu"  2:23
2."Innervision" Malakian, Tankian2:33
3."Bubbles"  1:56
4."Boom!" Malakian, Shavo Odadjian2:14
5."Nüguns"Tankian, Malakian 2:30
6."A.D.D. (American Dream Denial)"  3:17
7."Mr. Jack"Tankian, Malakian 4:09
8."I-E-A-I-A-I-O" Tankian, Malakian, Odadjian, John Dolmayan3:08
9."36" Tankian0:46
10."Pictures"Tankian, Malakian 2:06
11."Highway Song"Tankian, Malakian 3:13
12."Fuck the System" Malakian, Tankian2:12
13."Ego Brain" Malakian, Tankian3:21
14."Thetawaves"Tankian, Malakian 2:36
15."Roulette" Malakian, Tankian3:21
16."Streamline"  3:37
Total length:43:22


System of a Down
Additional musicians



Region Certification Certified units/sales
Australia (ARIA)[25] Gold 35,000^
Brazil (Pro-Música Brasil)[26]
5-album bundle
Platinum 40,000*
Finland (Musiikkituottajat)[27] Gold 15,886[27]
United States (RIAA)[28] Platinum 1,000,000^

*sales figures based on certification alone
^shipments figures based on certification alone


  1. ^ CMJ New Music Report. 74. CMJ Network, Inc. December 16, 2002. p. 23.
  2. ^ "System of a Down Chart History". Billboard. Retrieved July 2, 2020.
  3. ^ New music report. CMJ. December 16, 2002. p. 23.
  4. ^ "Interview: John Dolmayan (System of a Down/Scars on Broadway)". Archived from the original on April 15, 2014. Retrieved May 17, 2009.
  5. ^
  6. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on November 5, 2016. Retrieved September 1, 2013.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  7. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on November 5, 2016. Retrieved November 5, 2016.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  8. ^
  9. ^ Hartmann, Graham (July 14, 2014). "System of a Down's John Dolmayan Reveals Lyrical Inspiration for 'I-E-A-I-A-I-O'". Loudwire. Townsquare Media. Retrieved August 2, 2014.
  10. ^ "Steal This Album". Metacritic.
  11. ^ "Steal This Album! - System of a Down". AllMusic.
  12. ^ "Steal This Album". Metacritic.
  13. ^ "Steal This Album Review". Entertainment Weekly. November 29, 2002.
  14. ^ "[KLUDGE MAGAZINE] - Review - System of a Down: Steal This Album". August 28, 2004. Archived from the original on August 28, 2004. Retrieved December 22, 2016.
  15. ^ "System Of A Down : Steal this Album - NME". Retrieved December 22, 2016.
  16. ^ "System of a Down Steal This Album - Album Review - Slant Magazine". Retrieved December 22, 2016.
  17. ^ "System of a Down, 'Steal This Album!' (American Recordings/Columbia)". Spin.
  18. ^ "System of a Down - Steal This Album! (staff review)". Sputnikmusic.
  19. ^ a b Cross, Charles R. (2004). "System of a Down". In Brackett, Nathan; Hoard, Christian (eds.). The New Rolling Stone Album Guide (4th ed.). Simon & Schuster. pp. 800. ISBN 0-7432-0169-8.
  20. ^ "Steal This Album". Metacritic.
  21. ^ "Steal This Album! - System of a Down". AllMusic.
  22. ^ "Steal This Album Review". Entertainment Weekly. November 29, 2002.
  23. ^ "[KLUDGE MAGAZINE] - Review - System of a Down: Steal This Album". August 28, 2004. Archived from the original on August 28, 2004. Retrieved December 22, 2016.
  24. ^ "System Of A Down : Steal this Album - NME". Retrieved December 22, 2016.
  25. ^ "ARIA Charts – Accreditations – 2003 Albums". Australian Recording Industry Association. Archived from the original on August 10, 2020.
  26. ^ "Brazilian album certifications – System of a Down – System of a Down" (in Portuguese). Pro-Música Brasil.
  27. ^ a b "System of a Down" (in Finnish). Musiikkituottajat – IFPI Finland.
  28. ^ "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.