System of a Down Tickets for Sale

Ozzfest debutantes System of a Down won themselves a number of converts by combining the antithetical styles of Goth and Funk. Vocalist Serj Tankian sounds like Danny Elfman from Oingo Boingo, while the band's herky-jerky elastic bass riffs are lifted straight from Primus. Edgy, metallic Industrial/Funk for the "Everyday is Halloween" (thank you, Ministry) set.

System of a Down may be seen as part and parcel of the nu-metal explosion of the late-'90s, but their style is less akin to the likes of Limp Bizkit and Korn than to vintage thrash from the '80s, spiced with a touch of hardcore punk. The band's sound may be typified by pounding drums and scorched-earth guitar tactics, but these work in the service of a sophisticated, highly politicized lyrical sensibility a la System of a Down's soul brothers in Rage Against the Machine. While the band thrashes through their songs with enough fervor to satisfy the most insatiable metal fiend, there are enough varied dynamics employed to lend a fair amount of grace to the heaviness.
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Not long ago, accepted sonic belief held that rock music, certainly hard rock music, had been stretched, manipulated and tinkered with to its logical end. With no new forms looming, the genre would slip into malaise and the kids would look elsewhere for an outlet. Enter Los Angeles quartet System of a Down, who, over seven years and two albums have revived and revitalized heavy music with their manic brand of post-everything hardcore. Millions of records on, they charge into the new century as living proof that for those brave enough to snub convention, greatness follows.

Malakian, singer Serj Tankian, bassist Shavo Odadjian and drummer John Dolmayan, bonded quickly as friends but also shared Armenian ancestry and mutual disdain for perceived limitations. Their disparate tastes – Jaco Pastorious, Slayer, The Beatles, Faith No More, traditional Armenian folk music – assured from the onset that this would be a band less ordinary.

System's 1998 self-titled debut, produced by bearded board whiz Rick Rubin (Slayer, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Public Enemy), was an achievement in pastiche overdrive, a dark carnival of moods punctuated by breakneck tempo shifts and progressive structures. That year, radios rung to the visceral fury of "Sugar" and the spooky tension of "Spiders," each a fiery baptism for listeners weaned on predictability and rote rhyme schemes.

Serj favors abstract, existential poetry, peppered with politics and personal religion. He says, "No one ultimately knows what they're saying anyway. Are we really making art? Art doesn't belong to us. It doesn't belong to people, it belongs to the universe. It comes FROM the universe. It comes THROUGH us. When I write something, I think I know what I'm saying, but I never pretend to know the full meaning of the words."
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