Toxicity (album)

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Studio album by System of a Down
Released September 4, 2001
Recorded March – July 2001
Cello Studios
Hollywood, California
Length 44:01
57:26 (special edition)
Label Columbia
Producer Rick Rubin, Daron Malakian, Serj Tankian
System of a Down chronology
System of a Down
Steal This Album!
Singles from Toxicity
  1. "Chop Suey!"
    Released: August 13, 2001
  2. "Toxicity"
    Released: January 22, 2002
  3. "Aerials"
    Released: June 11, 2002

Toxicity is the second album by Armenian American rock band System of a Down. Produced by Rick Rubin, Toxicity was released on September 4, 2001 by Columbia Records, debuting at number 1 on both the United States, with 220,000 copies,[3] and number 1 on the Canadian charts. Toxicity has sold over 12 million copies worldwide[4] and is their only multi-platinum in the United States.

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Aggregate scores
Source Rating
Metacritic 73/100[5]
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic 5/5 stars[6] 10/10[7]
Christgau's Consumer Guide (1-star Honorable Mention)[8]
Drowned in Sound 10/10[9]
Entertainment Weekly B–[10]
Los Angeles Times 3/4 stars[11]
Q 4/5 stars[12]
Rolling Stone 3.5/5 stars[13]
Slant Magazine 3.5/5 stars[14]
Uncut 1.5/5 stars[5]

On review aggregator website Metacritic, Toxicity attained a score of 73 out of 100, based on reviews from nine critics, which indicates "generally favourable reviews".[5] Don Kaye of gave the album ten out of ten, one of only 21 albums to achieve a perfect rating from the site.[7] Keith Harris of Rolling Stone gave the album 3.5 stars out of 5 and wrote, "Both manic and schizoid, Tankian veers easily from sing-rap rhythm to Korn-ish hysterics to demonic baritone growl to doomily ruminative... the music insists on forward motion without trapping itself in a thrashy lock-step rut".[13]

Q gave the album 4 stars out of 5 and wrote that the album "matches Slipknot for manic intensity while employing a freeform approach to songcraft which invites comparison to the lunatic-fringe rock of the '60s".[12] Tom Sinclair of Entertainment Weekly gave the album a B– and wrote: "Strange and engaging... It all adds up to bizarro type of metal that has a warped majesty and strength".[10] Joe Gross of Spin wrote that the band "have an undeniable nerd-prog charm".[15]

However, not all reviews were favorable. Uncut wrote, "Toxicity is virtually unlistenable: thrash metal splintered into a million pieces by unnecessary time changes, topped off with excruciatingly theatrical vocals."[5]


The cover artwork shows words "System Of A Down" as a parody of the Hollywood Sign.


The album is listed in Blender's 500 CDs You Must Own.[16] MusicRadar held a public poll and Toxicity was ranked as 28th greatest heavy metal album in the list of The 50 Greatest Heavy Metal Albums of All Time. The album is ranked at number 44 in Rolling Stone's 100 Best Albums of the Decade for 2000s.

Spin named the album as one of 'The 300 Best Albums Of The Past 30 Years' , with Toxicity being one of the highest-listed metal albums on the list. [17] They also named Toxicity as Album of the Year in 2001.[18]

Kludge ranked it at number five on their list of best albums of 2001.[19] Alternative Press ranked it number 9 in its "25 Best Albums of 2001" (Feb 2002, p. 64). Mojo ranked it number 93 in its "100 Modern Classics" (p. 54).

The album won a 2001 Metal Edge Readers' Choice Award for "Album of the Year."[20]

Loudwire listed the album as #1 on its list of 'Top 11 Metal Albums of the 2000s'[21] and #11 on its list of 'Top 50 Metal Albums of All Time.'[22]

NME listed the album as #6 on its list of '20 Greatest Metal Albums Ever.'[23]

Soundtrack appearances[edit]

Track listing[edit]

No. Title Lyrics Music Length
1. "Prison Song"   Tankian, Malakian Malakian 3:21
2. "Needles"   Tankian, Malakian Tankian, Malakian 3:13
3. "Deer Dance"   Tankian, Malakian Malakian 2:55
4. "Jet Pilot"   Tankian Odadjian, Malakian 2:06
5. "X"   Tankian Malakian 1:58
6. "Chop Suey!"   Tankian, Malakian Malakian 3:30
7. "Bounce"   Tankian Malakian, Odadjian 1:54
8. "Forest"   Tankian Malakian 4:00
9. "ATWA" (Air, Trees, Water, Animals) Tankian, Malakian Malakian 2:56
10. "Science" (featuring Arto Tunçboyacıyan) Tankian Malakian 2:43
11. "Shimmy"   Tankian Tankian 1:51
12. "Toxicity"   Tankian Malakian, Odadjian 3:39
13. "Psycho"   Tankian, Malakian Malakian 3:45
14. "Aerials[I]"   Tankian, Malakian Malakian 6:11
Total length:

^ I "Aerials" contains a hidden track often referred to as "Arto" due to it featuring Arto Tunçboyacıyan. The track is actually an adaptation of "Der Voghormia" (meaning "Lord Have Mercy"), a traditional Armenian church hymn.

French Special Edition bonus CD[25]
No. Title Lyrics Music Length
1. "Sugar" (live) Tankian Odadjian, Malakian 2:27
2. "War?" (live) Tankian Malakian 2:48
3. "Suite-Pee" (live) Tankian Malakian 2:58
4. "Know" (live) Tankian Odadjian, Malakian, Tankian 3:03
5. "Johnny"   Tankian Tankian 2:09


System of a Down
  • Photography: Martyn Atkins (Studio), Glen E. Friedman (Back Cover, Water), John Dolmayan, Hallie Sirota
  • Cover Art: Mark Wakefield
  • Art Direction: Shavo Odadjian & Brandy Flower
  • Album Art Concepts: Shavo Odadjian & System of a Down
  • Inside Collage Art: John Dolmayan & Brandy Flower
  • Co Label Art: Shavo Odadjian
  • A&R direction: Dino Paredes
  • Production Coordinator: Lindsay Chase
  • Worldwide Representation: David Benveniste, Velvet Hammer Music and Management Group
  • Recorded at Cello Studios, Hollywood, CA
  • Mixed at Enterprise Studios, Burbank, CA
  • Mastered by Eddy Schreyer at Oasis Mastering, Studio City, CA

Chart performance[edit]

Year Single Chart Position
2001 "Chop Suey!" Billboard Hot 100 76
Modern Rock Tracks 7
Mainstream Rock Tracks 12
Australian ARIA Top 50 14
2002 "Toxicity" Billboard Hot 100 70
Modern Rock Tracks 3
Mainstream Rock Tracks 10
Australian ARIA Top 50 39
"Aerials" Billboard Hot 100 55
Modern Rock Tracks 1
Mainstream Rock Tracks 1
Australian ARIA Top 50 36
Preceded by
Iowa by Slipknot
Canadian Albums Chart number-one album
September 22, 2001
Succeeded by
Silver Side Up by Nickelback
Preceded by
Aaliyah by Aaliyah
Billboard 200 number-one album
September 22, 2001
Succeeded by
The Blueprint by Jay-Z


  1. ^ Burgess, Aaron. "10 Nu-Metal Albums You Need to Own". Revolvermag. Retrieved June 17, 2015. 
  2. ^ Rivadavia, Eduardo. "Toxicity - System of a Down". Allmusic. Retrieved June 17, 2015. Yet, for the most part, it also managed to retained SOAD's unorthodox signature sound: so-called "nu-metal" uniquely infused with remarkable originality, including angular riffs, jagged rhythms, and oblique lyrics splattered all over the place. 
  3. ^ System of a Down Mezmerizes Music Fans Worldwide
  4. ^ Terrybezer (28 July 2009). "Albums Of The Decade: System Of A Down – ‘Toxicity’". Metal Hammer. Retrieved 11 January 2014. 
  5. ^ a b c d "Reviews for Toxicity by System of a Down". Metacritic. Retrieved February 9, 2015. 
  6. ^ Rivadavia, Eduardo. "Toxicity – System of a Down". AllMusic. Retrieved February 9, 2015. 
  7. ^ a b Kaye, Don. "System of a Down 'Toxicity'". Retrieved February 9, 2015. 
  8. ^ Christgau, Robert (January 29, 2002). "CG: System of a Down". Retrieved February 9, 2015. 
  9. ^ Kaye, Don (August 28, 2001). "Album Review: System of a Down – Toxicity". Drowned in Sound. Retrieved February 9, 2015. 
  10. ^ a b Sinclair, Tom (September 3, 2001). "Toxicity". Entertainment Weekly: 161–62. Retrieved October 30, 2015. 
  11. ^ Lecaro, Lina (September 2, 2001). "Inventive Metal to Satisfy Headbangers". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved October 30, 2015. 
  12. ^ a b "System of a Down: Toxicity". Q (181): 121. September 2001. 
  13. ^ a b "System of a Down: Toxicity". Rolling Stone. September 4, 2001. Archived from the original on July 8, 2007. Retrieved July 8, 2007. 
  14. ^ Scott, Aaron (October 15, 2001). "System of a Down: Toxicity". Slant Magazine. Retrieved May 9, 2015. 
  15. ^ Gross, Joe (February 2005). "Heavy Metal". Spin 21 (2): 89. Retrieved February 9, 2015. 
  16. ^ Alternative Rock: 500 CDs You Must Own
  17. ^
  18. ^
  19. ^ Perez, Arturo. "Top 10 Albums of 2001". Kludge. Archived from the original on July 22, 2004. Retrieved November 25, 2015. 
  20. ^ Metal Edge, June 2002
  21. ^
  22. ^
  23. ^
  24. ^ Zadrozny, Anya. "System of a Down Song 'Bounce' Thrashes in Trailer for Kids Movie 'The Secret Life of Pets'". loudwire. Retrieved 15 January 2016. 
  25. ^
  26. ^ "OLiS: sales for the period 08.10.2001 - 14.10.2001". OLiS. 
  27. ^ "Austrian album certifications – System of a Down – Toxicity" (in German). IFPI Austria.  Enter System of a Down in the field Interpret. Enter Toxicity in the field Titel. Select album in the field Format. Click Suchen
  28. ^ "ARIA Charts – Accreditations – 2009 Albums". Australian Recording Industry Association. 
  29. ^ "Ultratop − Goud en Platina – 2003". Ultratop & Hung Medien / 
  30. ^ "Brazilian album certifications – System of a Down – Toxicity" (in Portuguese). Associação Brasileira dos Produtores de Discos. 
  31. ^ "Brazilian album certifications – System of a Down – System of a Down" (in Portuguese). Associação Brasileira dos Produtores de Discos. 
  32. ^ "Canadian album certifications – System of a Down – Toxicity". Music Canada. 
  33. ^ "Gold-/Platin-Datenbank (System Of A Down; 'Toxicity')" (in German). Bundesverband Musikindustrie. 
  34. ^ "New Zealand album certifications – System of a Down – Toxicity". Recording Industry Association of New Zealand. 
  35. ^ "The Official Swiss Charts and Music Community: Awards (System Of A Down; 'Toxicity')". Hung Medien. 
  36. ^ "British album certifications – System of a Down – Toxicity". British Phonographic Industry.  Enter Toxicity in the field Keywords. Select Title in the field Search by. Select album in the field By Format. Select Gold in the field By Award. Click Search
  37. ^ "American album certifications – System of a Down – Toxicity". Recording Industry Association of America.  If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Album, then click SEARCH
  38. ^ "IFPI Platinum Europe Awards – 2004". International Federation of the Phonographic Industry. 

External links[edit]