Written by Samuel Phineas Upham
System of a Down, sometimes known as just “System,” is an alternative rock band that formed out of Los Angeles. Known for their political undertones, the band consists of four Armenian members. Serj Tankian, Daron Malakian and Shavo Odajian.
The band enjoyed moderate local success in the early days, playing under the name “Soiled,” but soon changed their name to System of a Down after a poem written by Malakian in 1995. They recruited a new drummer, and set out to make waves in the Los Angeles rock scene. System brought a lot of energy to the stage. Hollywood’s famous Viper Room was one of the first venues to host them.
They recorded and produced an album at Sound City, the famous (and now defunct) Los Angeles recording studio. The band started a trend called “agro metal,” characterized by a strong political agenda. By 1998, they were one of the world’s leading rock acts, having performed beside Slayer and finding a top slot at Ozz Fest.
All four band members identify heavily with the Armenian genocide, and have been outspoken in criticisms of the event. They have a strong Middle Eastern influence, reflected in some of the hooks and popular beats in their songs, and they have been compared to groups like Slayer and Van Halen in both style and performance.
System took a brief hiatus from 2006 to 2010, but has since reunited. Serj Tankian has stated he has been unable to write a new album, comparing it to loving someone you feel no romantic attachment to. Still, there are strong hints the band will release a new album soon.