9. Toxicity - System Of A Down
After 9/11 happened, it felt like the entire rock scene woke up with something to say. From the old guard speaking up against corrupt government practices to the thousands of Rock Against Bush compilations happening around the same time, rock had gone political and was making absolutely no apologies. And yet the most savage political commentary actually came out a full week before the Twin Towers even fell.
Just before everyone got up on their high horse about government practices, System of a Down were coming out with material that was miles ahead of what their competition was doing, marrying Armenian folk traditions with some of the strangest heavy metal imaginable. Compared to the likes of Tool and even Slipknot from around the same time, songs like Aerials and Chop Suey! seem to almost defy genre, operating with as much tunefulness as intensity.
Although they probably just consider their music to be eclectic, System of a Down earned their stripes as one of the few alternative metal bands to be birthed in the early '00s. What's even more unfortunate is how much these songs still hold up today, from the damnation of the incarceration system on Prison Song to the title track's commentary on disorder. Either System were super ahead of the curve, or we still have a lot of learning to do.