System of a Down (album)

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System of a Down
System of a down.jpg
Studio album by
ReleasedJune 30, 1998
RecordedNovember 1997 – February 1998
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 American heavy metal band System of a Down, released on June 30, 1998, by American Recordings and Columbia Records. The album was certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of America on February 2, 2000.

After the success of System of a Down's following album, Toxicity (2001), the album was certified platinum.[3]


The album is generally considered nu metal and alternative metal, both of which would become staples for the band. Lyrical themes throughout the album vary, with many songs following a theme of being anti-war, but also has topics of genocide, religion, and brainwashing. "Suite-Pee" is a criticism of pedophilia within the Church and religious extremism.[4] "Soil" is, according to lead singer Serj Tankian, "about death, and friends that die, and life that dies." "Mind" talks about government mind control, specifically mentioning CIA brainwashing in the albums' liner notes. "P.L.U.C.K." is a song dedicated to the victims of the Armenian genocide, and is meant to be a criticism and denouncing of the Turkish Government.

In the liner notes, footnotes appear under some of the song's titles, giving some insight into the song's respective context. For example, "War?" contains the footnote "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."


The cover artwork is from a 1928 anti-fascist poster designed by visual artist John Heartfield for the Communist Party of Germany.[3] 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[2]
Drowned in Sound10/10[6]
Q4/5 stars[8]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide4/5 stars[9]

System of a Down received acclaim from music critics.[11] Q called it "an excellent starting point for this most curious band".[8]

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]

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

2."Know"TankianShavo Odadjian, 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)TankianMalakian3:33
Total length:40:36
Japanese edition
Total length:44:57
Limited edition bonus CD
1."Sugar" (Live)Odadjian, Malakian2:27
2."War?" (Live) 2:48
3."Suite-Pee" (Live) 2:58
4."Know" (Live)Odadjian, 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][15]


System of a Down


  • Produced by Rick Rubin with System of a Down
  • Mixed by D. Sardy
  • Engineered by Sylvia Massy
  • Engineer/assistant engineer: Greg Fidelman
  • Additional recording/finishing Touches: D. Sardy
  • Assistant engineers: Sam Storey, Nick Raskulinecz
  • Assistant mixdown engineers: James Saez, Greg Gordon, Andy Haller
  • Second assistant mixdown engineer: Bryan Davis
  • Extra piano by Rick Rubin
  • Photography: Anthony Artiaga
  • Cover art: John Heartfield
  • Art direction: Frank Harkins & System of a Down
  • A&R Direction: Dino Paredes, Sam Wick
  • Management: Velvet Hammer Management, David Benveniste
  • Recorded at Sound City, Van Nuys, California
  • Vocals and additional recordings at Akademie Mathematique of Philosophical Sound Research, Hollywood, California
  • Mixed at Record Plant Studios, Hollywood, California & Hollywood Sound, California
  • Mastered by Vlado Meller at Sony Studios, New York City

Charts and certifications[edit]


  1. ^ Burgess, Aaron (September 9, 2014). "10 Nu-Metal Albums You Need to Own". Revolvermag. NewBay Media. Archived from the original on August 6, 2017. 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. (dead link)
  2. ^ a b Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "System of a Down – System of a Down". AllMusic. Retrieved November 21, 2010.
  3. ^ a b "17 Years Ago: System of a Down Release Self-Titled Debut Album". Archived from the original on July 3, 2016. Retrieved May 9, 2016.
  4. ^ "System of a Down's Daron Malakian Dishes on Politics and Religion". Loudwire. Archived from the original on May 3, 2021. Retrieved May 3, 2021.
  5. ^ "John Heartfield Poster - Five Fingers Has The Hand". Archived from the original on August 15, 2016. Retrieved May 9, 2016.
  6. ^ Nettleton, Chris (April 21, 2003). "Album Review: System Of A Down – System of A Down". Drowned in Sound. Archived from the original on June 27, 2018. Retrieved January 8, 2019.
  7. ^ Ruggeri, Kevin. "System of a Down: System of a Down". Pitchfork. Archived from the original on October 3, 2000. Retrieved August 15, 2019.
  8. ^ a b "System of a Down: System of a Down". Q. No. 182. October 2001. p. 152.
  9. ^ Harris, Keith (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.
  10. ^ Hanson, John (August 19, 2006). "System of a Down – System of a Down". Sputnikmusic. Retrieved February 11, 2011.
  11. ^ "System of a Down: Armenian Metal Proprietors". March 12, 2013. Archived from the original on June 17, 2016. Retrieved May 10, 2016.
  12. ^ Robert Dimery; Michael Lydon (March 23, 2010). 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die: Revised and Updated Edition. Universe. ISBN 978-0-7893-2074-2.
  13. ^ Hartmann, Graham. "No. 22: System of a Down, 'System of a Down' – Best Debut Metal Albums". Loudwire. Archived from the original on June 27, 2018. Retrieved January 8, 2019.
  14. ^ "r/systemofadown - Honey and Temper Re-Recorded versions on Limewire?". Reddit. August 5, 2017. Retrieved January 8, 2019.
  15. ^ "ACE Repertory". Archived from the original on May 4, 2020. Retrieved February 28, 2019.
  16. ^ "Brazilian album certifications – System of a Down – System of a Down" (in Portuguese). Pro-Música Brasil.
  17. ^ "Canadian album certifications – System of a Down – System of a Down". Music Canada.
  18. ^ "Italian album certifications – System of a Down – System of a Down" (in Italian). Federazione Industria Musicale Italiana. Retrieved July 22, 2019. Select "2019" in the "Anno" drop-down menu. Select "System of a Down" in the "Filtra" field. Select "Album e Compilation" under "Sezione".
  19. ^ "British album certifications – System of a Down – System of a Down". British Phonographic Industry.
  20. ^ "American album certifications – System of a Down – System of a Down". Recording Industry Association of America.

External links[edit]