Free Thinkers Are Dangerous! Millennial Counterculture and the Music of System of a Down
Neil, Clare L.
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System of a Down is an Armenian-American heavy metal band who participated in a counterculture around the turn of the millennium, both through its music and through its members’ participation in activism. I situate both the band’s sound and identity portrayal through analysis of the music and the socio-historical context which made them popular. System of a Down was labelled a “Nümetal” band primarily due to the touring circuit participated it in. I investigate the sonic signifiers of this subgenre of heavy metal through examples from the band’s first album. I then compare contemporary Nümetal to songs from the band’s eponymous album and am able to identify what makes the band unique among its peers in terms of musical conventions used. System of a Down’s music participates in a culture opposed to global warfare and injustice. This thesis opens the door to further in-depth study of this band’s important music.