On 2001-12-18 03:40:00, gwalla wrote:
<P>System of a Down: Rage Against the Machine minus the politics and the lyrical skill.
I'm sorry, I'm dragging up an old post, but due to forum craziness this thread was brought near the top for some reason, and I ended up reading it, and the above comparison incensed me as a fan of both groups.
For one thing, the first and most obvious difference between Rage Against the Machine and System of a Down is that RATM's vocals are rap and SOAD's vocals are not. Serj Tankian's singing may be strange and erratic, but it is not rap and not meant to be. While Zack de la Rocha aims for a harsh, punchy sound with his vocals (which makes their cover songs take quite some getting used to), Tankian can actually sing pleasantly when he wants to, which is not so rare.
Also, System of a Down isn't experimental in their instrumentation. While nearly every RATM track features some kind of sound that most artists wouldn't even <i>try</i> to coax out of a guitar, SOAD's music is based more around the tunes, and sometimes good ol' heavy-metal loudness.
Moreover, SOAD <i>is</i> political in their lyrics, just not so often. They did a couple of pretty basic, generic antiwar songs on their first album (one about the historical genocide of the Armenian people by the Turkish government and its legacy of hatred), and had a few odd, seemingly political rants in the liner. On their new album, they open with Prison Song, which somehow turns "Research on successful drug policy shows that treatment should be increased..." into something that I can sing along with. Yes, it's silly, but my point is that they have some political themes.
And as great as RATM's lyrics were back in the day (especially when they'd joke around with rap conventions, like rhyming "stick and move like I was Cassius" with "bomb a left upon the fascists" in Wake Up), I don't think they "had it" anymore after Evil Empire. Battle Of Los Angeles' lyrics felt repetitive to me, like they were just trying very, very hard to be the way they'd been before, but couldn't find much more to say about issues that haven't seen much progress since the last time they sang about them. And RATM went out with a cover album, a sure sign to me that in the end they didn't have anything new to write. Hopefully they'll find some new creative endeavours that will prove good. (Or did they get back together and I missed it? Wouldn't surprise me.)
Anyway, RATM and SOAD aren't that similar, and I wouldn't instantly dismiss one as inferior to the other for any reason.