Oct 24, 2001 at 12:00 am

In 1998, System Of A Down released its self-titled debut album, enjoyed measured amounts of success both on radio and video, and then hovered quietly within the underground fusion-metal scene.

Now, some three years later, SOAD finds itself roaming the country with Slipknot on the Pledge of Allegiance Tour and promoting one of the most-sought-after sophomore attempts of the year.

As good as, if not better than its debut, Toxicity illustrates a more comfortable marriage between the band and political issues. In the past, SOAD publicly refused to consider itself a political group, but it now seems poised to reveal more about its perceptions of modern political issues.

The first track, “Prison Song” is saturated with political discourse and sounds like a manifesto against U.S. drug policy. On the third track, “Deer Dance,” vocalist, Serj Tankian examines the Democratic National Convention protests of almost a year ago, noting how the police presence alone raised tensions to a dizzying height, resulting in the cops using “baton courtesy” to control the crowds.

Maybe, just maybe, SOAD really isn’t a political band but a group of guys who find themselves confused at times by the world around them — trying to put their questions to music, whether they be about politics, religion or just life in general.

The band has, with this album, created a haven for kids and young adults who find themselves in the same position. Fans who love the music may or may not agree with the band on the issues, but they are still drawn to the brand of honesty and consciousness the band offers. When all of this is woven in with melodic angst, a bruising guitar and fresh (if not sometimes wacky) beats, you’re left with no less than one amazing album.

Christopher K. Czochara is a Metro Times intern. E-mail comments to [email protected].