System of a Down's self-titled major-label debut finds the Los Angeles band consolidating its gothic alt-metal, sharpening its deadly riffs, strengthening its brutal rhythms, and adding muscle to its attack. The band differentiates itself from the legions of Southern Californian alt-metalheads by emphasizing its Armenian musical heritage, which gives the music an eerie, otherworldly quality. Part of the success of System of a Down lies with producer Rick Rubin, who helps give the band focus, but ultimately the record works because of the band itself, since they have contributed a set of strong songs that illustrates this is a band that relies on smarts as well as sound.
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AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine