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For all of their politically charged lyrics and raw songwriting talent, System of a Down are best known for being fucking weird as hell. The Armenian-American alt-metal icons have undoubtedly recorded some of the most batshit-insane metal songs in the history of the genre, thanks to their inimitable musical style, eccentric lyrics and cartoonish vocal deliveries. Even their smash hits like "B.Y.O.B." and "Chop Suey!" are utterly bananas compared to the songs that follow them on the radio, but we wanted to shine a light on the most brain-scrambling ones they've ever made. Below, are System of a Down's 10 craziest songs.
"Mind" is the longest song in System of a Down's catalog, and for that reason it's one of their most bizarre. Arriving in the back-half of their 1998 self-titled debut, this six-minute track sounds like three SOAD cuts squeezed into one, giving it an awkward and at times tumultuous pacing that's unlike anything else they've ever written.
The band's 2001 opus, Toxicity, is the album that made them bona fide rock stars thanks to breakout hits like "Chop Suey!" and "Aerials," and it's probably the band's most serious LP to date. "Science" is a sober meditation on the failures of industrialization and human progress, but it also contains a seriously trippy middle section that features Turkish avant-folk musician Arto Tunçboyacıyan, who also appears on the album's equally outlandish hidden track.
This cut from their self-titled album starts out normal enough for a SOAD song, but once Tankian's inhuman screeches come in, he sounds like a raging Donald Duck. Things chill out again during the chuggy instrumental bridge, only to get even stranger when he puts on a high-pitched shrill to narrate one of the song's harried characters during the outro.
Most bands drop their most eccentric qualities once they reach a certain tier of commercial success, but not SOAD. Their latest album, 2005's Hypnotize, contains some of the wackiest songs in their playbook, and in the blistering climax of "U-Fig," the group thrashes violently between sweet acoustic guitar plucks and Tankian's frenzied shrieks about melting in the sun.
Honestly, the song title says it all. This hopped-up banger from the band's other 2005 release, Mezmerize, mimics the rollercoaster dips and dives of its titular substance. The whole thing is a trip, but the best part is hearing Tankian squeak the words, "gonorrhea, gorgonzola," like a demented nursery rhyme.
"CUBErt" is one of the shortest songs on the band's self-titled album, and it's also one of the most peculiar. Between the wonky, a-melodic guitar pattern during the verse and Tankian's turkey call squawks when the distortion kicks in, this jam that compares humans to the mass-produced uniformity of canned corn is off-kilter and unsettling even by SOAD standards.
After the band broke big with Toxicity, they released an album the next year that was practically a "fuck you" to the industry they began to inhabit. Steal This Album is undoubtedly their kookiest and least accessible record, and "I-E-A-I-A-I-O" is one of its delirious standouts, replete with pornographic tongue-twisters like, "Peter's pecker picked another pickle bearin' pussy pepper."
"Cigaro" kicks off with one of the heaviest, most death-metal moments in the band's catalog, but then the music suddenly cuts away for guitarist Daron Malakian to taunt, "My cock is much bigger than yours." This hysterical highlight from Mezmerize is a satirical commentary on the absurdity of dick-swinging imperialism, and SOAD lay the metaphor on thick: "My cock can walk right through the door/With a feeling so pure/It's got you screaming back for more."
"Vicinity of Obscenity" boasts some of SOAD's weirdest lyrics and some of Tankian's freakiest vocal performances. The deep cut from Hypnotize whips between Seventies funk bridges about prostitutes with bad feet, bouncy verses where Tankian whoops unintelligibly and a hook where he employs his machine gun delivery to spray various formations of the words, "Banana terracotta pie."
"Chic 'N' Stu" is such a ridiculous song that it's notoriously disliked by fans. The intro track on 2002's puzzling Steal This Album is about ... pizza. Well, technically it's about consumerism culture, but its iconic chorus sees Tankian and Malakian singing the phrase, "Pepperoni and green peppers, mushrooms, olive, chives," like they're starring in some sort of musical about a takeout order. It's far from the best SOAD song, but it takes home gold in the "strange" category.