System Of A Down Frazzled Over Leaked Outtakes

Sixteen unfinished tracks make way onto Web.

Call it System of a Download — 16 outtakes from System of a Down's second album, Toxicity, are making the rounds on Internet file-sharing services.

The songs were being considered for use as future B-sides, on soundtracks and possibly the next studio record before they were leaked onto the Web, the group's manager said. At this point, the bandmembers are unsure whether or not they will ever release the leaked songs, which weren't yet completed.

"These tracks are unfinished and don't reflect the group's high standards of recorded sound," the band said in a statement. "We are disappointed that our fans are listening to anything less than the best possible recordings from System of a Down."

The band found out about the compromised tracks from fans in their street team who discovered the songs online and e-mailed the band's label.

Almost all of the tunes uploaded are under three minutes long, but none would have seemed out of place on Toxicity. Throughout every one the band adheres to its tried and true formula. In other words, aside from being heavy and iconoclastic, there is no formula. Urgent, staggered beats blend with operatic vocals; death metal tempos clash with Armenian melodies; and evocative atmospheres juxtapose with barked vocals and carnival noises.

Thematically, the cuts are equally schizophrenic. Singer Serj Tankian attacks globalization and capitalism on "Boom" (a.k.a. "Everytime") laments lost love on "Streamline," lambastes traffic cops on "Highway Song" (a.k.a. "Side of the Freeway") and barks the names of pizza ingredients on "Therapy" (a.k.a. "Chick N' Stew").

The band is unsure how the songs found their way online, but one guess is that hackers broke into computers in the studio and pilfered the material. This isn't the first time System of a Down have been burnt by Internet burners: Weeks before its release on September 4, 2001, Toxicity was uploaded onto the Web.

Before playing Ozzfest, System of a Down will continue working on new material, management said. On May 11 and 12, the band will film a video in Los Angeles for "Aerials," which will be directed by bassist Shavo Odadjian (see "System Of A Down Weigh 'Aerials,' Get Psyched For Camp Ozzy").

For a feature interview with System of a Down, check out "System Of A Down: Toxic Avengers."