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System Of A Down: how four outcasts became a metal legend

As fans lose their minds over news of a new System Of A Down album, we look back on their story so far

When Metal Hammer posted a news story last month confirming that System Of A Down will release a new album in 2017, the internet went righteously berserk. And make no mistake about it: this is massive.

To put it into perspective, System’s Chop Suey! video has notched up nearly half a billion views on YouTube, despite having been released before YouTube even existed. That same track has also received more than twice as many streams on Spotify than any Slipknot song. Meanwhile, with no new album to promote, they’ve continued to sell out arenas and headline festivals whenever they’ve reconvened, and when they were revealed as Download headliners for next year, virtually no one raised an eyebrow. Despite not having released a shred of new music since 2005, System Of A Down are still a very big deal indeed, and yet they’re also one of the most eccentric, idiosyncratic and downright unlikely bands to ever reach that status. And, somewhat fittingly, it is that thread of uniqueness that has pinned their story together from day one.

“The fact that the band shares the same roots, the same Armenian heritage, is a common bond,” singer Serj Tankian suggests. “In a way we’re all outsiders and see things from the position of an outsider. We look at things from an outside perspective and that perspective is often more clear.”

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