Though the context is unclear, “Chop Suey!” invokes Jesus’ words in Luke 23:46 and Mark 15:34 without seeming irreverent. The band believes that “Science” has failed to recognize faith as “the single most potent element of human existence,” however . . .
System of a Down will confuse young fans by feeding them an anything-goes theological stew. They suggest that God is female on “Jet Pilot.” In the liner notes, guitarist Daron Malakian “thanks God, Buddha, Allah and Lucifer because they are all so lovely” (not to mention Charles Manson “for his inspiration and honesty”). On “Prison Song,” the band wants to fix the prison system by decreasing law enforcement and eliminating mandatory sentencing for minor drug offenders. Police brutality should be condemned, but officers are painted with a broad brush as badge-wearing thugs (“Deer Dance”). “Needles” angrily repeats, “Pull the tapeworm out of your a–!” Also, Sigmund Freud would’ve had a field day interpreting the erotic pogo stick metaphor on “Bounce.”
For the most part, Toxicity peddles guitar-pounding lyrical obscurity and head-scratching streams of consciousness. Yet there’s an ebb and flow of anger running through this disc. What’s biting sarcasm? What’s meant to be taken at face value? Hard to tell, and not worth the effort.