Archive for June, 2015

#1 System of a Down – Toxicity

Released in 2001 by American Records.
Best Songs: Chop Suey!, Needles, Toxicity, Aerials, Deer Dance
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CSvFpBOe8eY

Interesting Facts: Serj Tankian and Daron Malakian attended Rose and Alex Pilibos Armenian School as children, although due to their eight-year age difference they did not meet until 1992 while working on separate projects at the same recording studio. They formed a band named Soil with Tankian on vocals and keyboards, Malakian on vocals and guitar, Dave Hakopyan on bass and Domingo Laranio on drums. The band hired Shavo Odadjian (another Rose and Alex Pilibos alumnus) as manager, although he eventually joined Soil as rhythm guitarist. In 1994, after only one live show Hakopyan and Laranio left the band, feeling that it was not going anywhere! After Soil split up, Tankian, Malakian and Odadjian formed a new band, System of a Down. The group took its name from a poem that Malakian had written titled “Victims of a Down”. The word “victims” was changed to “system” because Odadjian believed that it would appeal to a much wider audience and also because the group wanted their records to be alphabetically shelved closer to their musical heroes, Slayer! In 1997 soon after playing at Hollywood clubs the band caught famed producer Rick Rubin’s attention who asked them to keep in touch with him. Rubin signed the group onto his American/Columbia Records, and System of a Down began to record in Rubin’s studio laying down tracks that would eventually be released on their debut album, ‘System of a Down’. ‘System of a Down’ was certified gold by the RIAA on February 2, 2000. Two years later, after the success of Toxicity, it was certified platinum.

On September 3, 2001, System of a Down had planned on launching Toxicity at a free concert in Hollywood as a “thank you” to fans. The concert, which was to be held in a parking lot, was set up to accommodate 3,500 people, however, an estimated 7,000 to 10,000 fans showed up. Because of the large excess number of fans the performance was cancelled by police officers just before the group took the stage. No announcement was made that the concert had been cancelled. Fans waited for more than an hour for the group to appear, but when a banner hanging at the back of the stage that read “System of a Down” was removed by security, the audience rushed the stage, destroying all the band’s touring gear (approximately $30,000 worth of equipment) and began to riot, throwing rocks at police, breaking windows, and knocking over portable toilets. The riot lasted six hours, during which six arrests were made. The band’s manager, David “Beno” Benveniste, later said that the riot could have been avoided if the group had been permitted to perform or had they been allowed to make a statement at the concert regarding the cancellation. System of a Down’s scheduled in-store performance the next day was cancelled to prevent a similar riot.

On September 4, 200,1 Toxicity was released and debuted at No. 1 on the American and Canadian charts, despite the events of September 11. The album has eventually achieved 3x multi-platinum certification in the US and has since sold over 12 million copies worldwide. It was still on top in America during the week of the September 11, 2001 attacks and the political environment caused by the attacks added to the controversy surrounding the album’s hit single ‘Chop Suey!’ The song was taken off the radio as it contained politically sensitive lyrics according to the 2001 Clear Channel memorandum at the time such as “(I don’t think you) trust in my self-righteous suicide.” Regardless, the video gained constant play on MTV as did the album’s second single, ‘Toxicity’. Even with the controversy surrounding ‘Chop Suey!’ (which earned a Grammy nomination), System of a Down still received constant airplay in the United States throughout late 2001 and 2002 with ‘Toxicity’ and ‘Aerials’. In 2006, VH1 listed Toxicity in the No. 14 slot in the 40 Greatest Metal Songs.

In 2001, the band went on tour with Slipknot throughout the United States and Mexico. Following a performance in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Odadjian was allegedly harassed, ethnically intimidated, and was physically assaulted by security guards backstage, who then dragged him out of the venue. Odadjian received medical attention from police and later filed a suit against the security company. Despite the incident, the tour was a success and System of a Down and Slipknot went on the Pledge of Allegiance Tour with Rammstein. In late 2001, unreleased tracks from the Toxicity sessions made their way onto the internet. This collection of tracks was dubbed Toxicity II by fans. The group released a statement that the tracks were unfinished material and subsequently released the final versions of the songs as their third album, ‘Steal This Album!’.

Don Kaye of Blabbermouth.net gave Toxicity ten out of ten, one of only 21 albums to achieve a perfect rating from the site. Loudwire listed the album as #1 on its list of ‘Top 11 Metal Albums of the 2000s. It was picked by Metal Hammer UK as album of the year and also won Metal Edge Readers’ Choice Award for “Album of the Year.” Many songs from Toxicity appeared in soundtracks. ‘Shimmy’ appeared in Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 4, ‘Toxicity’ was a playable track in Guitar Hero: Metallica, ‘Science’ appeared in ATV Offroad Fury 2, ‘Chop Suey!’ was a playable track in Rock Band 2 and is set to appear in the upcoming game Guitar Hero Live. In addition, the song appeared in the TV spot and launch trailer for Mortal Kombat X that were both directed by Shavo Odadjian. Finally, a few days ago (June 2015) ‘Bounce’ appeared in the hilarious teaser trailer for ‘The Secret Life of Pets’ animated movie.

toxicity

Released in 1997 by Maverick Records.
Best Songs: My Own Summer (Shove It), Headup, Be Quiet and Drive (Far Away), Lotion, Mx
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XOzs1FehYOA

Interesting Facts: When Steven Carpenter was 15 years old, he was hit by a car while skateboarding. Confined to a wheelchair for several months, he began teaching himself guitar by playing along to bands such as Anthrax, Stormtroopers of Death, Megadeth and Metallica. Carpenter, Moreno, and Cunningham were friends from their childhood. All three went to McClatchy High School in Sacramento and remained friends through the city’s skateboarding scene. When Moreno found out Carpenter played guitar, he set up a jam session with Cunningham, who played drums, and the three began playing regularly in Carpenter’s garage circa 1988. After playing with several bassists, the band acquired Cheng (who unfortunately became comatose from a 2008 car accident and died in 2013) and recorded a four-track demo soon afterwards.

Within two years, the band began playing club shows and later expanded their gigging territory to San Francisco and Los Angeles, where they played shows alongside bands such as Korn. At one of their L.A. shows the band impressed a Maverick Records representative and they were soon signed to the label.

The name “Deftones” was created by Carpenter, who wanted to pick “something that would just stand out but you know, not be all cheese-ball at the same time.” Carpenter combined the hip hop slang term “def,” which was used by artists such as LL Cool J and Public Enemy, with the suffix “-tones,” which was popular among 1950s bands (e.g.,Dick Dale and the Del-Tones, The Quin-Tones, The Monotones, The Cleftones, and The Harptones). Carpenter said the name is intentionally vague to reflect the band’s tendency to not focus on just one style of music.

Deftones’ second album, Around the Fur, was recorded in Seattle and produced by Terry Date. Released on October 28, 1997, the album included a collaboration with singer Max Cavalera (of Sepultura/Soulfly/Cavalera Conspiracy) on “Headup”, a tribute to Cavalera’s late stepson and Chino’s friend, Dana Wells, to whom the album was also dedicated. English alternative rock band Muse cites Deftones as a root influence and sometimes uses the riff to “Headup” as an outro to their song “New Born” during live performances.

Although not yet a member of the band, Delgado was credited as “audio” on five of the album’s tracks and Cunningham’s wife, Annalynn, provided guest vocals on “MX”. “When we went in to make this record, we really didn’t have a set idea of what we wanted to come out with,” said Moreno in a 1998 interview. However, he felt that the album “fell into place” once the band had settled into the studio. The band expanded its sound, spending more time with Date and giving more thought to the album’s production. Cunningham varied his drum sound and experimented by using different types of snare drum on almost every track. The album was praised for its loud-soft dynamics, the flow of the tracks, Carpenter’s compositions, Moreno’s unusual vocals, and the strong rhythm-section grooves created by Cheng and Cunningham.

The album cover was shot by photographer Rick Kosick during a late-night party in Seattle where the band was recording. Upon seeing the candid photo, the band proclaimed that they wanted to use it as the album cover. Kosick was unsure who the girl was, so the band had to find out and track down the woman to obtain her permission to use the photo, which she eventually granted.

Around The Fur was highly anticipated, and propelled the band to fame on the strength of radio and MTV airplay for the singles “My Own Summer (Shove It)” and “Be Quiet and Drive (Far Away)”. Around the Fur sold 43,000 copies in its first week of release, and entered the Billboard 200 at No. 29 (its peak position), remaining on the charts for 17 weeks. Around the Fur went on to reach RIAA gold status on June 24, 1999, and platinum status on June 7, 2011. “My Own Summer (Shove It)” appeared on The Matrix: Music from the Motion Picture.

deftones

Released in 2004 by Roadrunner Records.
Best Songs: The Blister Exists, Before I Forget, Duality, The Nameless https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ok9VYc7DUj8

Interesting Facts: Vol. 3: (The Subliminal Verses) is the band’s only album produced by Rick Rubin, also the only one not to feature profanity and the band’s first to incorporate more traditional, melodic song structures, guitar solos and acoustic guitars. Slipknot recorded Vol. 3 The Subliminal Verses at Rick Rubin’s allegedly haunted mansion in Los Angeles in 2003. During an interview in 2008, drummer Joey Jordison said “we didn’t talk to each other for three months, we just sat there wasting money in the fucking Houdini mansion.” Speaking retrospectively percussionist Shawn Crahan states; “eventually we got sick of waiting for shit to happen. We got together, had a few beers and wrote a really artsy, fucked up song called ‘Happy Ending’.”

In a 2003 interview, Jordison explained that despite the initial problems more than enough material was written for the album and added that “it’s better to have stuff to pick from than to settle for shit”, in contrast to how Slipknot settled too soon with fewer songs on previous albums. Some band members doubted Rubin’s commitment to Slipknot as he split his time between many artists at once. Lead vocalist Corey Taylor said that he only met Rubin four times during the entire recording process of Vol. 3 The Subliminal Verses and that Rubin barely ever showed up to the studio: “…we were being charged horrendous amounts of money. And for me, if you’re going to produce something, you’re fucking there. I don’t care who you are.” He also added: “He is overrated, he is overpaid, and I will never work with him again.” Taylor admitted in an interview that he drank heavily throughout their time in the mansion, saying “I would drink from the moment I got up until the moment I passed out.”

The cover of the album features the “maggot mask” designed by Shawn Crahan. The name of the mask is a reference to the name given to fans by the band. The mask was made of stitched leather, with a zipper around the mouth area and copies can be obtained as part of the band’s merchandise. It is featured in the music video for the album’s second single ‘Vermilion’, in which the band appears whenever the protagonist wears the mask.

The album received positive reviews. Todd Burns of Stylus wrote that people who accuse the band of having “softened” are “mistaking softness for maturation”. Burns went on to call the album “the best pop inflected metal album since System of a Down’s Toxicity”. Sean Richardson of Entertainment Weekly gave the album an A− and wrote that it is a “deranged hippie update” of Slayer’s “masterpiece Reign in Blood, which was also produced by Rubin. Q hailed Vol. 3: (The Subliminal Verses) as “a triumph”. John Robb of PlayLouder complimented Slipknot’s unexpected rise to become “one of the biggest groups in the world”, dubbing ‘Before I Forget’ a “classic anthem”. Robb added that the album is better than ‘Iowa’, citing its “differing textures”. A review from the BBC praised the album, declaring that there “is no finer metal band on the planet”.

The album peaked within the top ten in album sales across eleven countries, and went Platinum in the United States. The band also received the Grammy Award for Best Metal Performance for the song ‘Before I Forget’. The same song was also listed as “AOL’s Top Metal Song of the Decade”. Roadrunner Records have listed the music video for “Duality” as the best video in Roadrunner history. In 2009, Metal Hammer called Vol. 3: (The Subliminal Verses) one of the “Albums of the Decade”.

Slipknot-Vol.-3-The-Subliminal-Verses-2004

Released in 2000 by Century Media.
Best Songs: Give War a Chance, Raise the Deadman, Reborn
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DDufHohi9hY

Interesting Facts: Stuck Mojo fuses Pantera like Southern based heavy metal with hip hop influences, and is considered to be one of the pioneers of rap metal. The Washington Post noted that some of the band’s songs may indicate conservative views, while other songs may indicate uniformly distributed hostility. It further suggests that this Atlanta quartet is the mirror image of leftist agit-metal band Rage Against the Machine. In 1995 Stuck Mojo were named as the best live band by MTV Europe.

Declaration of a Headhunter was the final studio album Stuck Mojo released before breaking up in 2000, the same year the record was released. Unlike the previous albums, all music and lyrics were written by the guitarist Rich Ward. The band reformed 5 years later and released their fifth studio album, Southern Born Killers, without a record label, offered as a free download through the band’s website.

stuck mojo

Released in 1998 by American Records.
Best Songs: P.L.U.C.K., Suite-Pee, Spiders, Suggestions, Sugar
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5vBGOrI6yBk

Interesting Facts: Serj Tankian and Daron Malakian attended Rose and Alex Pilibos Armenian School as children, although due to their eight-year age difference they did not meet until 1992 while working on separate projects at the same recording studio. They formed a band named Soil with Tankian on vocals and keyboards, Malakian on vocals and guitar, Dave Hakopyan on bass and Domingo Laranio on drums. The band hired Shavo Odadjian (another Rose and Alex Pilibos alumnus) as manager, although he eventually joined Soil as rhythm guitarist. In 1994, after only one live show Hakopyan and Laranio left the band, feeling that it was not going anywhere! After Soil split up, Tankian, Malakian and Odadjian formed a new band, System of a Down. The group took its name from a poem that Malakian had written titled “Victims of a Down”. The word “victims” was changed to “system” because Odadjian believed that it would appeal to a much wider audience and also because the group wanted their records to be alphabetically shelved closer to their musical heroes, Slayer!

In 1997 soon after playing at Hollywood clubs the band caught famed producer Rick Rubin’s attention who asked them to keep in touch with him. Rubin signed the group onto his American/Columbia Records, and System of a Down began to record in Rubin’s studio laying down tracks that would eventually be released on their debut album, ‘System of a Down’. The album enjoyed moderate success as first singles ‘Sugar’ and ‘Spiders’ became radio favorites and the music videos for both songs were frequently aired on MTV. After the release of the album, the band toured extensively, opening for Slayer and Metallica. ‘System of a Down’ was certified gold by the RIAA on February 2, 2000. Two years later, after the success of Toxicity, it was certified platinum.

The cover artwork is from an anti-fascist, World War II-era poster designed by the artist John Heartfield for the Communist Party of Germany, which was contemporary with and directly against the Third Reich. The text on the original poster is: “5 fingers has a hand! With these 5 grab the enemy!” This slogan inspired part of the text contained on the back of the System of a Down album: “The hand has five fingers, capable and powerful, with the ability to destroy as well as create”. Later, it is written in bold letters: “Open your eyes, open your mouths, close your hands and make a fist”.

soad