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System of a Down
Alternative


Like many late-'90s metal bands, System of a Down struck a balance between '80s underground thrash metal and metallic early-'90s alternative rockers like Jane's Addiction. Their dark, neo-gothic alternative metal earned a cult following in the wake of the popularity of such like-minded bands as Korn and the Deftones. Vocalist Serj Tankian, guitarist Daron Malakian, bassist Shavo Odadjian and drummer John Dolmayan formed System of a Down in Southern California in the mid-'90s. They quickly earned a strong following in Los Angeles, largely based on strong word of mouth. A three-song demo began circulating through metal collectors, and their fan base soon spread throughout not only America, but Europe and New Zealand. By the end of 1997, the group had signed American, now distributed by Columbia Records. American/Columbia released the group's eponymous debut album in the summer of 1998, securing the band opening spots on the Slayer and Ozzfest tours. Stephen Thomas Erlewine

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