System of a Down (album)

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System of a Down
System of a down.jpg
Studio album by System of a Down
Released June 30, 1998
Recorded November 1997 – February 1998
Length 40:36
System of a Down chronology
System of a Down
Singles from System of a Down
  1. "Sugar"
    Released: May 24, 1998
  2. "Spiders"
    Released: February 10, 1999

System of a Down is the debut studio album by Armenian-American heavy metal band System of a Down, released on June 30, 1998, by American Recordings and Columbia Records. The album was later certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of America on February 2, 2000. Two years later, after the success of System of a Down's next album, Toxicity, the album was certified platinum.[4]


The cover artwork is from an anti-fascist, World War II-era poster designed by the artist John Heartfield for the Communist Party of Germany,[4] which was contemporary with and directly against the Third Reich. The text on the original poster is: "A hand has 5 fingers! With these 5 grab the enemy!"[5] This slogan inspired part of the text contained on the back of the System of a Down album: "The hand has five fingers, capable and powerful, with the ability to destroy as well as create". Later, it is written in bold letters: "Open your eyes, open your mouths, close your hands and make a fist" (used later by Serj Tankian in the song "Uneducated Democracy").


Professional ratings
Review scores
AllMusic4/5 stars[1]
Q Magazine4/5 stars[6]
Sputnikmusic5/5 stars[7]
Ultimate Guitar9.5/10 stars[8]
Drowned In Sound5/5 stars[9]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide4/5 stars[10]

System of a Down received acclaim from music critics. Q magazine (10/01, p. 152) - 4 stars out of 5 - "This remains an excellent starting point for this most curious band".[11]

The album is featured in the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die.[12] Loudwire included the album in its list of The Best Metal Debut Albums, at number 22.[13]

Track listing[edit]

2."Know"TankianOdadjian, Malakian, Tankian2:56
3."Sugar"TankianOdadjian, Malakian2:33
6."DDevil"TankianOdadjian, Malakian1:43
9."Mind"TankianOdadjian, Malakian, Tankian6:16
11."CUBErt"Tankian, MalakianMalakian1:50
13."P.L.U.C.K." (Politically Lying, Unholy, Cowardly Killers)Tankian, MalakianMalakian3:33
Total length:40:36
Japanese Edition
Total length:44:57
Limited Edition bonus CD
1."Sugar" (Live)TankianOdadjian, Malakian2:27
2."War?" (Live)TankianMalakian2:48
3."Suite-Pee" (Live)TankianMalakian2:58
4."Know" (Live)TankianOdadjian, Malakian, Tankian3:04
Total length:13:17

The songs "Honey" and "Temper" from Demo Tape 2 were recorded for this album as well but ultimately did not make the cut. The re-recorded versions of these songs have yet to surface anywhere.[14]


System of a Down



Before some of the lyrics in the booklet for the album, footnotes appear.

"Your thoughts, and dreams are no longer sacred, as they are exposed to a
weapon known as remote viewing and monitoring."

  • "DDevil" :

"For those that control the central nervous system,
control society, and the world.

  • "War?" :

"We first fought the heathens in the name of religion, then Communism, and now in
the name of drugs and terrorism. Our excuses for global domination always change."

  • "Mind" :

"Mind control technology has been used by the CIA since the 1950s as part of
their non-lethal, covert weapons program."

  • "Peephole" :

"The February 18 edition of Britain's NEW SCIENTIST Magazine reports that the
Geneva-based World Health Organization suppressed, under political pressure,
a report which confirmed that marijuana is safer than either alcohol or tobacco."

  • "Darts" :

"Why do old societies hold the pantheon of 12 gods to be true,
while modern societies generally have one God?"

  • "P.L.U.C.K." :

"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."

Booklet message[edit]

In the booklet, underneath the band member's photos, the text reads in all capitals: "Announce your anthems on the ceiling. We dance, annexed by power. Casual neckties embrace, the hungry hunger further, images rule through the media, commercial Orwellianism, producing unveiled icebergs, running transparent electrical cables, curving string ensembles, witnessed by hangings from flagpoles of souls avenged by Dr. Clock. Fresh paint, naked melting figures mixing the revolution against T.V. sentencing, at the hands of brutal men and their military business world. Let us instigate the revolt, down with the system!" This message was also found in some of the Toxicity booklets.

Charts and certifications[edit]


  1. ^ a b Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. System of a Down review. Retrieved on 2010-11-21.
  2. ^ Burgess, Aaron (September 9, 2014). "10 Nu-Metal Albums You Need to Own". Revolvermag. NewBay Media. Retrieved July 21, 2015. Technically spotless, wildly eclectic, and out-outspokenly, er, Armenian, System of a Down’s 1998 self-titled debut turned more nu-metal on its ear; and with this darker and more streamlined follow-up, the band proved that it was more than just a novelty–though spastic lead single “Chop Suey” is still one of the most awesomely bizarre songs to ever get repeated play on the radio.
  3. ^ Wiederhorn, Jon (August 13, 2001). "System Of A Down's Schizophrenia Aggravated On Toxicity". MTV. Viacom International. Retrieved April 15, 2015. The group’s self-titled 1998 debut was a striking, startling combination of speed-metal licks, quirky percussive vocals and powerhouse drumming juxtaposed against Mediterranean melodies, alt-rock flavors and textural rhythms. Their upcoming Toxicity, due September 4, is even more schizophrenic.
  4. ^ a b "17 Years Ago: System of a Down Release Self-Titled Debut Album". Retrieved 2016-05-09.
  5. ^ "John Heartfield Poster - Five Fingers Has The Hand". Retrieved 2016-05-09.
  6. ^ Q (10/01, p.152) - 4 stars out of 5 - "...This remains an excellent starting point for this most curious and underrated of bands..."
  7. ^ Hanson, John. "Review System of a Down". Sputnikmusic. Retrieved 11 February 2011.
  8. ^
  9. ^
  10. ^ Cross, Charles R. (2004). "System of a Down". In Brackett, Nathan; Hoard, Christian. The New Rolling Stone Album Guide (4th ed.). Simon & Schuster. p. 800. ISBN 0-7432-0169-8.
  11. ^ "System of a Down: Armenian Metal Proprietors". 2013-03-12. Retrieved 2016-05-10.
  12. ^ Robert Dimery; Michael Lydon (23 March 2010). 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die: Revised and Updated Edition. Universe. ISBN 978-0-7893-2074-2.
  13. ^
  14. ^
  15. ^ "Brazilian album certifications – System of a Down – System of a Down" (in Portuguese). Associação Brasileira dos Produtores de Discos.
  16. ^ "Canadian album certifications – System of a Down – System of a Down". Music Canada.
  17. ^ "British album certifications – System of a Down – System of a Down". British Phonographic Industry. Select albums in the Format field. Select Gold in the Certification field. Type System of a Down in the "Search BPI Awards" field and then press Enter.
  18. ^ "American album certifications – System of a Down – System of a Down". Recording Industry Association of America. If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Album, then click SEARCH. 

External links[edit]