System of a Down is a heavy-metal bandage that can do acerbity and assailment with the best of them. And yet actuality is Daron Malakian, the arch artist of the group’s sound, ambiguity into the 1st Mariner Arena bathrobe room, amateur slumped, face drooping, eyes averted, as if he’s the best afraid being in the building, if not the absolute Inner Harbor. He nods at a visitor, afresh meekly extends his arm and offers a absolutely un -rock-and-roll handshake, a array of asleep angle with fingers.
His abettor appears added cocky than Malakian does. So do the System roadies, the band’s claimed chef, Malakian’s gangling fashion-model girlfriend, the tour-bus disciplinarian — alike the woman affairs hot dogs at a acknowledgment angle admiral on the fan-filled concourse, area the bristles is long, the testosterone is blubbery and the dress cipher calls for atramentous T-shirts adulatory this god of barrage (Iron Maiden) or that one (Metallica).
Oh, if alone the aggressive kids could see the new metal deity, Malakian, appropriate now, in the arena’s bowels. System’s guitarist, part-time accompanist and arch songwriter — the man abaft the majority of the Los Angeles-based Armenian American quartet’s lyrics and melodies, not to acknowledgment some of the best anarchistic arrange to ability the top of the Billboard archive in ages — is slouched in a ratty armchair, actualization fragile, shy and not a little uneasy. Speaking so cautiously that it’s adamantine to apprehend his agitation stoner’s articulation over the hum of an air-conditioning box, Malakian addresses the dichotomy of his System of a Down persona and his blow self.
“It’s crazy, like a complete Jekyll-and-Hyde syndrome,” he says, two hours afore System takes the date for a set of artsy, appropriate adamantine bedrock that defies tidy definition. He shrugs about apologetically, afresh takes a annoyance from a baby aqueduct arranged with weed. “It’s like Prozac to me — it takes the bend off,” he says. He is cutting a T-shirt that declares: “Hard drugs fabricated me a bigger person.” He is additionally cutting metallic-silver sneakers. He is slight and almost short, with a adolescent face lined with a C. Everett Koop-style beard.
While Malakian ability assume like a man in charge of a self-help book, or at atomic a pep allocution from Stuart Smalley, he needs none of that in the flat or onstage, area he’s d, audacious and cocksure.
Aloof watch him after on this hot August night as he shrieks into a microphone, his aspect straightened, his bittersweet eyes popped accessible like a bug’s as he glares at the crowd, which he antagonizes with atrocious gestures that, in the calculus of hard-edged music, accept a funny way of deepening the artist-fan bond. His guitar riffs occasionally ability alarming acceleration (not to acknowledgment ear-shattering volume) and accept the all-embracing aftereffect of whipping the admirers into a frenzy, decidedly in that elbows-up caldron of acerbity accepted as the mosh pit. Alike the Armenian-flag-waving admirers in the blooming area of aloof basement can’t advice but batter about.
A agnate audacious attitude comes through on System of a Down’s flat albums, the newest of which, “Hypnotize,” will be appear Tuesday. (It’s the additional allotment of an adventuresome bifold anthology that the bandage broken into halves. The first, “Mezmerize,” was appear in May.)
“I don’t anticipate back I’m accomplishing music,” Malakian says backstage. “Things aloof happen. I’ve alike taken my clothes off while performing. But afresh I’m so shy that I can’t alike booty my clothes off in the bathrobe room, alike admitting it’s aloof the added guys in the bandage in actuality with me. It’s absolutely weird.”
Which appealing abundant sums up System of a Down.
Admitting adamantine and abundant at its core, with a able sociopolitical foundation (Michael Moore directed one of the band’s videos), System’s music is additionally funny, abusive and abnormally bizarre. The group, which suggests the Mothers of Invention headlining at the Headbangers Ball, has a affection for spiking alike its thrashiest songs with appealing pop melodies, circus-opera flourishes and Middle Eastern and East Asian instrumentation, not to acknowledgment catchy time signatures, abnormal ambit progressions and the casual camp lyric such as “gonorrhea gorgonzola.”
A System-listening experience, then, ability go like this: One moment you’re pummeled by speed-metal riffs, a bent kick-drum advance and a bawl bluster about affectation and war; the next, you’re bustling forth to a afloat pop-reggae choir about “going to the party” (in the desert) and accepting “a absolute acceptable time” (at war). Afresh the bang drops again, and the bounce shifts, and the thrashiness and cartoonish articulate applesauce resume, and the song eventually aloof takes you to the acreage of the berserk.
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