American/Columbia - 2001 - 43 minutes

With the demise of Rage Against the Machine, the way is open for System of a Down to become LA's masters of angst and on 'Toxicity' there are moments when they stir it up in real style.

While their ferocious debut gave metal one of its most about-turns in years, it still regularly harked back to genre conventions. And despite some great lyrical diatribes, 'Toxicity' too suffers a certain amount from riff by rote. But as more light and shade creep in to the songs, you can see just what a band SOAD have it in their power to become.

It's the moments on 'Toxicity' when they play beyond what people expect - like the eerie 'Aerials' and the Eastern ambience in between the blast beats on 'Psycho' - that are the standouts. It's doubtful the legions of hoodies, chin beards and chain wallets will get a more complete album this year, but 'Toxicity' also suggests that the next one could have a lot more for the rest of us.

Harry Guerin

Tracklisting: Prison Song - Needles - Deer Dance - Jet Pilot - X - Chop Suey! - Bounce - Forest - ATWA - Science - Shimmy - Toxicity - Psycho - Aerials