Steal This Album!

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Steal This Album!
Studio album by System of a Down
Released November 26, 2002
Recorded 2002
Genre Alternative metal[1]
Length 43:22
Label American Recordings/Columbia/SME Records
Producer Rick Rubin, Daron Malakian
System of a Down chronology
Steal This Album!

Steal This Album! is the third studio album by Armenian-American heavy metal band System of a Down, released on November 26, 2002, on American Recordings. The album was produced by Rick Rubin and Daron Malakian, and reached #15 on the Billboard Top 200.[2]


Toxicity II[edit]

In early 2002, medium-quality MP3s of the album were released on the internet under the name Toxicity II, a clear reference to the band's previous, multi-platinum record, Toxicity. The band issued a statement expressing disappointment in the fact that fans were hearing material that was unfinished, and worked to release a completed, better quality version of the album, which became what is now known as Steal This Album!. Many of the tracks on Toxicity II are early versions or rough mixes of the songs, featuring different arrangements, lyrics, and vocal melodies than their completed counterparts. Notably, there is a lack of vocals by Daron Malakian. Two songs on Toxicity II, "Virginity" and "Outer Space", are absent from the final version of the album. Additionally, four songs not found on Toxicity II, "Fuck the System," "Ego Brain," "Roulette," and "Innervision" appeared on the final version of Steal This Album!, making the final version considerably different from the Toxicity II version.[3]

Album information[edit]

Though often reported in the media as being a collection of B-sides and outtakes, the band insisted that the Steal This Album! material is of the same quality as the tracks which made it onto Toxicity. Vocalist Serj Tankian has said that the songs were left out of Toxicity "because they did not fit the overall continuity of the album". In May 2009, drummer John Dolmayan revealed that the album is his favorite System of a Down release.[4] Similarly, Tankian also called the album his favorite System of a Down album in a 2012 AMA on reddit.

A first version of "Streamline" was used in The Scorpion King soundtrack, which was released in early 2002, and as a B-side on the CD2 edition of "Aerials".

The album title is a possible reference to Abbie Hoffman's book Steal This Book, which is regarded as a classic example of counterculture literature. A similar title (Steal This Movie!) was used for a movie about Hoffman's life. A year prior to this album however, The Suicide Machines had already released an album titled Steal This Record. The Coup had also released a Steal This Album in 1998. However, the album track titled Fuck the System is a clear reference to an earlier Hoffman essay. This album's title can also be a reference to the unauthorized distribution of the leaked songs from Toxicity II.

The packaging for this album is quite unusual. The original album came in a normal CD jewel case with only a disc, and no booklet (an insert was included in later releases of the album and most European copies, since many stores sell them unsealed and so the impression of it being removed by accident could be avoided). On the CD and the back of the case, the text is styled as if written by a black permanent marker, in faux-bootleg appearance. This is an obvious response by the band to those who leaked the original Toxicity II CD.

Most songs on the album have received little appearance in concert. However, songs "Mr. Jack" and "I-E-A-I-A-I-O" were played extensively to live audiences.

Presumably shortly after being written in 2000, the song "Chic 'N' Stu" was played live before the release of Toxicity.[5] After the end of the band's hiatus in 2011, the only songs to have been played from the album are "Pictures", "Highway Song", "I-E-A-I-A-I-O", "Mr. Jack", "Innervision", and "Roulette". In the 2013 tour they played also "A.D.D.".[6] In 2015 on the Wake Up the Souls Tour, the songs "Bubbles" and "Chic 'N' Stu" were played in concert.[7] In 2017 setlists in Europe, the band regularly performed the songs "Mr. Jack", "Pictures", "Highway Song" and "Roulette".[8]

Multi-instrumentalist Arto Tunçboyacıyan sings on the song "Bubbles", making his third appearance with System of a Down (having appeared on two songs on Toxicity).

Commenting on the track "I-E-A-I-A-I-O", drummer John Dolmayan said it was inspired by an encounter he had with Knight Rider's actor David Hasselhoff in a liquor store in Los Angeles when he was around 12:[9]

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Aggregate scores
Review scores
AllMusic4/5 stars[11]
Alternative Press4.5/5 stars[12]
Entertainment WeeklyB+[13]
NME3.5/5 stars[15]
Slant Magazine4/5 stars[16]
Amazon.com4.5/5 stars[17]
Spin4/5 stars[18]
Sputnikmusic4.5/5 stars[19]
Ultimate Guitar9.2/10 stars[20]
  • E! - "As leftovers go, this Album is refreshingly tasty. Grade: B+"
  • CMJ (12/16/02, p. 23) - "Both arty aggro and perverted political punk."
  • Entertainment Weekly (11/29/02, p. 105) - "Steal This Album stands head-and-tattooed shoulders above its competition in the hard-rock genre."
  • Rolling Stone (12/12/02, p. 93) - "An absurdist blast of political rage, silly theater and shattered math metal."
  • Spin (2/03, p. 96) - 8 out of 10 - "The way these simple songs blur together works in the album's favor: Just when you think you've got a foothold, the ground disappears under your feet."

Alternative artwork[edit]

There are four limited-edition alternate CD designs, each designed and drawn by a member of the band. Tankian's is blue with a poem in white spiraling into its center, Odadjian's is red with psychedelic flames, Dolmayan's is black with a gray skull incorporating the album's title into its teeth, and Malakian's is white with the legs of a man (in jeans) and woman (in red stockings). The vinyl edition of the album was released as a double picture disc with each side featuring one of these designs.

In Europe and the UK the standard version includes a one-sided front insert, the reason for this being that most CDs in the UK are not sold sealed so it might appear that the cover had been stolen had it been shipped without it. It is all white with the album title in black, similar to the original CD cover. The insert contains minimal information and contains a link to the official website for more track information.

Track listing[edit]

1."Chic 'N' Stu"TankianMalakian2:23
2."Innervision"TankianMalakian, Tankian2:33
4."Boom!"TankianMalakian, Odadjian2:14
5."Nüguns"Tankian, MalakianMalakian2:30
6."A.D.D. (American Dream Denial)"TankianMalakian3:17
7."Mr. Jack"Tankian, MalakianMalakian4:09
8."I-E-A-I-A-I-O"TankianTankian, Malakian, Odadjian, Dolmayan3:08
10."Pictures"Tankian, MalakianMalakian2:06
11."Highway Song"Tankian, MalakianMalakian3:13
12."Fuck the System"TankianMalakian, Tankian2:12
13."Ego Brain"TankianMalakian, Tankian3:21
14."Thetawaves"Tankian, MalakianMalakian2:36
15."Roulette"TankianMalakian, Tankian3:21
Total length:43:22


System of a Down
Additional musicians



Region Certification Certified units/Sales
Australia (ARIA)[21] Gold 35,000^
Brazil (Pro-Música Brasil)[22]
5-album bundle
Platinum 40,000*
Finland (Musiikkituottajat)[23] Gold 15,886[23]
United States (RIAA)[24] Platinum 1,000,000^

*sales figures based on certification alone
^shipments figures based on certification alone


  1. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2016-09-15. Retrieved 2016-04-06. 
  2. ^[dead link]
  3. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2016-03-06. Retrieved 2014-09-15. 
  4. ^ "Interview: John Dolmayan (System of a Down/Scars on Broadway)". Archived from the original on April 15, 2014. Retrieved 2009-05-17. 
  5. ^[permanent dead link]
  6. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2016-11-05. Retrieved 2013-09-01. 
  7. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2016-11-05. Retrieved 2016-11-05. 
  8. ^
  9. ^ Hartmann, Graham (14 July 2014). "System of a Down's John Dolmayan Reveals Lyrical Inspiration for 'I-E-A-I-A-I-O'". Loudwire. Townsquare Media. Retrieved 2 August 2014. 
  10. ^ "Steal This Album". Metacritic. 
  11. ^ "Steal This Album! - System of a Down". AllMusic. 
  12. ^ http://
  13. ^ "Steal This Album Review". Entertainment Weekly. November 29, 2002. 
  14. ^ "[KLUDGE MAGAZINE] - Review - System of a Down: Steal This Album". 28 August 2004. Archived from the original on 2004-08-28. Retrieved 22 December 2016. 
  15. ^ "System Of A Down : Steal this Album - NME". Retrieved 22 December 2016. 
  16. ^ "System of a Down Steal This Album - Album Review - Slant Magazine". Retrieved 22 December 2016. 
  17. ^ "Steal This Album!". 26 November 2002. Retrieved 22 December 2016 – via Amazon. 
  18. ^ "System of a Down, 'Steal This Album!' (American Recordings/Columbia)". Spin. 
  19. ^ "System of a Down - Steal This Album! (staff review)". Sputnikmusic. 
  20. ^ "System Of A Down: Steal This Album! - Reviews @". Archived from the original on 6 March 2016. Retrieved 22 December 2016. 
  21. ^ "ARIA Charts – Accreditations – 2003 Albums". Australian Recording Industry Association. 
  22. ^ "Brazilian album certifications – System of a Down – System of a Down" (in Portuguese). Associação Brasileira dos Produtores de Discos. 
  23. ^ a b "System of a Down" (in Finnish). Musiikkituottajat – IFPI Finland. 
  24. ^ "American album certifications – System of a Down – Steal This Album!". Recording Industry Association of America.  If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Album, then click SEARCH