System of a Down is very politically active (Although they prefer to call themselves a socially aware band) and are noted for the liberal political views expressed in their songs, tackling several subjects including the Armenian Genocide, War on Drugs, religion, and censorship. The band is a part of the Axis of Justice, a non-profit organization co-founded by Tankian and fellow musician Tom Morello, dedicated to bringing together musicians, music fans, and grassroots political organizations to fight for social justice.
In 2006, the group went on an "indefinite hiatus", and all four members are currently working on various side projects.
Style and influences
The stylistic variety and level of experimentation in System of a Down's music has made it difficult to describe. Though they have evolved their sound with each album, System of a Down has, for the most part, maintained a single style throughout their body of work. This style mixes elements and influences from a wide variety of genres such as alternative rock, punk rock, folk music, psychedelic rock, classic metal, symphonic metal, thrash metal, funk metal and progressive rock. Even some electronic influences can be heard in songs such as "Old School Hollywood." This has made them difficult to categorize, prompting the press to describe them with several different genre handles, among them alternative metal, hard rock,nu metal and progressive metal.
The band has used a wide range of instruments, including electric mandolins, baritone electric guitars, acoustic guitars, ouds, sitars and twelve string guitars. Furthermore, a variety of keyboards and synthesizers have been used on live shows. Drop C tuning was used exclusively on the first three albums, with later records mostly relying on drop C# tuning. Their vocal style has also remained fairly consistent over the years. The band frequently used alternating vocals, switching between near screaming followed by softer singing. Also, many of the same harmony and chord structures are frequently utilized in vocals in their songs, giving them a distinct sound.
The band has cited Middle Eastern music as one of its influences and mentioned on several accounts that they appreciate The Beatles and Kiss. On their own style, Odadjian said: "I don't think we sound like anybody else. I consider us System of a Down." and Dolmayan stated "You can compare us to whoever you want. I don't care. Comparisons and labels have no effect on this band. Fact is fact: We are who we are and they are who they are.
Daron Malakian – vocals, guitar (1994 - 2006; hiatus)
Serj Tankian - lead vocals, keyboards (1994 - 2006; hiatus),
Shavo Odadjian – bass, backing vocals (1994 - 2006; hiatus)
John Dolmayan – drums, percussion (1997 - 2006; hiatus)
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