It’s hard to think of other acts that a System of a Down diehard would also like. That’s because the Armenian-American alt-metal quartet have always made an effort to sound as unique as they do punishing, experimenting with sounds and styles that would scare off your average metal fan. It’s what makes them special, that extra bit of bizarre which sets SOAD apart from the braid-bearded pack.
With Toxicity turning 19 today, we thought it’d be a good look to list those rare bands who are just weird, heavy, and crazy enough to endear System of a Down’s fanbase to them. Here are five bands who accomplish the difficult task of being in the same class as everyone’s favorite seed-eaters.
Here are five bands you should know if you love System of a Down…
Overall, Avatar are very different from System of a Down — bigger, more theatrical, more European-sounding (we’re not sure exactly what that means either, but you know it’s true). But they bring the one-two swing-and-chug that System has at their core. The Swedish five-piece’s latest album Hunter Gatherer turns on a dime between crushing death metal riffage and elaborate progression, making them sound like a band who take things seriously without coming across as too grim-faced. Die for the bounce!
The obvious thing that separates French experimentalists Igorrr from System of a Down is their electronic elements. The band incorporate frantic rhythmic overkil and spiny crackles into their music that have plenty of basis in dubstep. However, their dedication to weird outside music puts them in league with SOAD, not to mention their use of folk instrumentation to give their huge, pneumatic tracks an organic edge. Fans of System’s breaks from straight-up metal will get a huge kick out of this.
To call Body Stuff ‘weird’ doesn’t quite do the band justice. That term usually connotes clownlike circus elements and far-out progression; these guys sound like a glam band that just spent the past two years in an isolated cabin, digging deep into their drug-chapped souls and coming up with this bizarre inter-genre sound. But that’s why they will appeal to SOAD fans — both Body Stuff and System share a burnt-out Hollywood, a sense of going hard and deep in their styles because they feel like the outsider even in their success. This one might take some getting used to, but listeners aching for the ‘90s will be happy they got into it, and you can’t help but feel that Daron Malakian would dig this music.
Madcap Japanese blackened soundtrack metal? Yes, please. Sigh’s music dates back to Norway’s second wave of black metal, when the band were signed to Euronymous’ Deathlike Silence label. But though it still maintains a backbone of black metal, these days Sigh’s music is more like the backing music to an elaborate cartoon of a wide-eyed demon with 18 boobs shoveling human souls into his mouth in painfully bright Technicolor. It’s beautiful, exciting, bizarre, and killer — just like System of a Down.
The Budos Band
Dark funk: it’s a thing. Staten Island’s Budos Band perform the soundtrack to the Blacula sequel that never happened, merging the ominous tone of Black Sabbath with the hip-swinging groove of Eddie Harris, resulting in music that feels like the soundtrack to smoking a cigarette in a 1972 Lincoln Continental. Fans of SOAD’s funkier moments, not to mention their general old-school bass-heavy vibe, will find this music deeply compelling, and a perfect alternative to crunchy riffs when they’re tired, contemplative, or just super fucking hung over.
Words by Chris Krovatin