System of a Down Toxicity

Just three tracks into the sophomore effort from Los Angeles speed metal merchants System Of A Down and I was feeling nostalgic for the days when speed metal actually meant something. When initialised bands like DRI, COC and MOD, along with the likes of Slayer and Anthrax, knew that being a great thrash band was more than just squeezing as many beats per minute into a song as possible. Like those bands, SOAD is not only able to offer up whiplash-inducing beats, they actually have something to say. It would be unfair to simply dismiss them as another thrash band when they are making poignant political and social statements, or when they are being as musically creative as they are on tracks like "Science" and "Aerials." And even the short spurts of "Bounce" and "Shimmy" show more imagination in less than two minutes than Metallica has shown on their last three albums combined. The disc's piece de resistance, however, is the appropriately titled "Chop Suey," which has the band mixing acoustic stop-start thrash, Iron Maiden-inspired metal noodling and machinegun-quick vocal delivery. Mainstream metal hasn't sounded this good in a very long time. (American)