Fan poll: Top 5 SYSTEM OF A DOWN songs | Revolver

Fan poll: Top 5 SYSTEM OF A DOWN songs

See what beat "Chop Suey!" and "B.Y.O.B."
system of a down 2020 PROMO NEW, Clemente Ruiz
photograph by Clemente Ruiz

While the world has only gotten two songs out of them over the past couple decades, System of a Down remain one of the most uniquely bizarre and eclectic metal forces of our time.

Throughout a staggeringly inventive five-album run — between their 1998 self-titled debut and the 2005 two-fer of Hypnotize and MesmerizeSOAD introduced listeners to a bombastic sensory overload of nu-styled grooves, manic thrash, European folk inflection, metal-tweaked disco rhythms, and other assorted oddness that is forever primed to wake us the fuck up.

We asked the band's fans to pick the single greatest song in System of a Down's signature toxicity — see the top-five vote-getters below.

5. "Question!"

Mesmerize is a tellingly hypnotic release for SOAD, with mid-album highlight "Question!" thriving off the push and pull of vocalist-guitarist Serj Tankian's flamenco-ish, finger-plucked sensitivity and the full band's heavy, five-on-the-floor herky-jerkiness.

"Question!" is but one of many tracks taking advantage of the engrossingly harmonious vocal tandem of Tankian and main guitarist Daron Malakian. Here, the pair contemplate their mortality, and whether or not there will be "sweet berries" for all in the afterlife.

4. "Spiders"

Compared to some of System's freakier genre mashups, there's a refreshing simplicity to the bleak-gilded, late-Nineties alt-gloom of "Spiders."

Aglow in the violent ominousness of a "radiant moon," there's a methodically melancholy pace to the guitar work, as well as Tankian's dire vibrato, that has had the band's second-ever single creepy-crawling through our heads for more than a quarter century.

3. "Aerials"

Again, for all the chaos System expertly harnesses across their catalog, sometimes you just need to get lost in a good groove. The penultimate track to the band's legacy-cementing sophomore release, Toxicity, is another masterfully moody and straightforward example that sometimes less is more.

Driven by a steady trickle of high-neck melodies from bassist Shavo Odadjian, "Aerials" acts as a pensive, if eventually pounding, four-minute ode to swimming against the tide of life, and the choices we make when we eventually get pulled deep into the void.

2. "Deer Dance"

SOAD can be whimsically existential at times, and brutally, pointedly political at others. "Deer Dance" falls into the latter category, with the act full-chest condemning systemic police violence, and all the brute power-trippers "pushing little children with their full-automatics."

The rage of the riotous protest anthem is palpable. The group dial into a dementedly dizzy set of Barnum & Bailey-grade dance-metal theatrics that ram hard against full-throated battle cries that implore us to stand our ground, and not stay neutral in the face of state-sanctioned violence.  

1. "Prison Song"

Another Toxicity banger for the people, "Prison Song" kicked off System's definitive album with savagely staccato nu-metal riffs, and even heavier truths about the failings of the war on drugs.

On the one hand, it's an undeniably effective distillation of SOAD's most aggressive tendencies, the band diming into high-grade chromatic chugging and all-anger death vocals. It's likewise one of their most poignant political treatises, acting as a damning critique of U.S. drug policy and a money-hungry carceral system that keeps building more and more prisons to house minor-offenders.

Navigating those sonic and philosophical extremes is par for the course for System of a Down, but this particularly powerful statement is what makes it our readers' favorite by far.