System of a Down are metal’s undisputed kings of weird, wrangling up millions of fans through some of the most unlikely music to ever become wildly popular. All four members of the Armenian-American quartet are essential in keeping SOAD’s sound so unique, but the band’s collection of riffs is seriously mesmerizing.

Metalhead music theory nerds will tell you the same — System of a Down completely abducted the harmonic minor scale. If any modern act tries to write using that scale, they’ll automatically be compared to SOAD… that’s how gigantic System’s impact was with incorporating Middle Eastern influence. You can hear it all over System of a Down’s debut album, especially on cuts like “Spiders” and “Know.”

If System of a Down is riff heaven, Toxicity brought fans to Valhalla. The album which cemented SOAD as a worldwide phenomenon saves an incredible amount of power for the back half. After pummeling fans with modern classics like “Prison Song” and “Chop Suey!”, Toxicity features one of the strongest closing tracks in rock and metal history, “Aerials,” and that comes after fans had their minds blown with “Science,” “Psycho” and the album’s title track.

It’s been a long and painful wait since SOAD unleashed both Mezmerize and Hypnotize in 2005. Both albums had their share of incredible riffs, like the rapid-fire “B.Y.O.B." and they both showcase a more sombre side of System as well, as Daron Malakian leads the way with “Hypnotize,” “Lonely Day” and “Lost in Hollywood.”

Check out our picks for the 10 Greatest System of a Down Riffs in the Loud List above!

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