Рецензия Rolling Stone на альбом «Toxicity»
No getting around it — «all research and successful drug policy shows/That treatment should be increased/And law enforcement decreased/While abolishing mandatory-minimum sentences» is one unmanageable mouthful of a lyric. But Serj Tankian doesnёt try to manage it, doesnёt try to make the statement sound artful or clever. Instead, the System of a Down frontman reaches deep into his lungs, fetches his most harrowing drill-sergeant bellow and spews this position statement as deliberately as a protester who wants to get every word out before a cop smashes his face into the cement.
System of a Down`s sophomore album thrives on this sort of urgency, the adrenal rush that insists there`s no time for ambiguity. Tankian`s hectoring delivery says more than any lyrics do. Both manic and schizoid, he veers easily from sing-rap rhythm to Korn-ish hysterics to demonic baritone growl to doomily ruminative Maynard James Keenan impressions. And if «Prison Song,» the anti-Drug War rant that kicks off Toxicity, ain`t Noam Chomsky, it sure ain`t «Nookie,» either. Nor, more to the point, is it the meandering impressionism of System`s 1998 debut, though Tankian is still capable of meaningless palaver such as «Trust in my self-righteous suicide.»
Produced once again by Rick Rubin, the music insists on forward motion without trapping itself in a thrashy lock-step rut. On «Needles,» bassist Shavo Odadjian and drummer John Dolmayan add an Eastern rhythmic lilt that explores the affinity between their Armenian heritage and their metallic stomp. On the single «Chop Suey», they unexpectedly drop an extra beat into the roil midsong, creating a chorus out of what was a verse. Guitarist Daron Malakian is better at eking out colorful squelching noises between the beats than composing distracting melodic detours. Then again, the instrumental intro to «ATWA» isn`t just quiet — it`s downright gorgeous.
Unfortunately, «ATWA» is also pro-Manson (Charlie, not Marilyn). And if the cops who «like to push the weak around» to protect their «plastic existence» are familiar targets for rebel rockers, so is the «psycho groupie cocaine crazy» Tankian disparages. Like I said, this ain’t Chomsky. Maybe System of a Down`s newfound politics, with their simplistic black-and-white divisions, make the world seem easier than it is. But that`s a welcome progressive counterbalance to a scene where hard rock — whether it`s the intricate psychodramatics of Tool or the depressed conundrums of Staind — makes the world seem so much harder than it is.
© Rolling Stone (RS 878 — September 27, 2001)