13 Amazing Bands Similar To System Of A Down

Written by Dan Farrant

Diving into the diverse universe of alternative metal, System of a Down stands out as an iconic band that has influenced and inspired countless artists. With a distinctive cocktail of heavy metal, nu-metal, and hard rock, it’s no wonder this band spurred hits like “Chop Suey!” “B.Y.O.B.,” and “Toxicity.”

Beyond their discography, this Armenian band is celebrated for using their platform to raise awareness about the Armenian Genocide and other global human rights concerns. This passionate advocacy further deepens the significance of their artistic contributions.

If you’re a fan looking to expand your musical horizons or rediscover bands that share similar characteristics with this groundbreaking group, we have compiled a list of 13 bands like System of a Down just for you. Let’s start!

System Of A Down by The Dark Lord of Wiki (CC BY 3.0)

1. Korn

Often considered the originator of the nu-metal genre, Korn has been a pioneer in shaping the sound and direction of heavy music. Their distinctive blend of heavy metal, funk, and hip-hop elements created a groundbreaking musical style that inspired countless bands. 

Korn’s self-titled debut album, released in 1994, was a massive success. The album featured the hit single “Blind” and showcased their unique blend of aggressive instrumentation and intense vocals. This initial success catapulted Korn into the limelight.

Korn’s impact is felt through subsequent hits like “Freak on a Leash,” Here to Stay,” and “Falling Away from Me,” which display their signature balance of raw intensity and deeply emotive lyrics.

Like System of a Down, Korn embraces non-traditional song structures and thematic depth in their lyrics, often dealing with personal and societal issues. The two bands also share a commitment to maintaining a unique and authentic sound that challenges the conventions of their genre. 

This shared innovation and willingness to push musical boundaries have cemented both Korn and System of a Down as influential figures in the nu-metal and alternative metal scenes.

2. Slipknot

Renowned for their aggressive heavy metal music and distinctive visual appearance involving masks and jumpsuits, Slipknot is one of the most popular rock bands in the mid-1990s.

In their early days, the band was originally named Meld. However, they felt the need for a more fitting moniker, which led them to adopt “Slipknot,” inspired by a song they had written with the same title. This name change was a significant turning point, as it helped define their raw, intense musical persona.

Over the years, Slipknot has captivated audiences with hits like “Wait and Bleed,” “Psychosocial,” and “Duality.” Much like System of a Down, Slipknot’s music features intricate song structures, experimental sounds, and aggressive guitar riffs. Both bands also draw parallels to their striking stage presence.

Their stage presence is further bolstered by atmospheric lighting designs that accentuate each member’s trademark mask—an element that has inspired countless imitators among emerging rock artists during that era.

3. Papa Roach

Known for their dynamic music style that blends elements of alternative rock, nu-metal, and post-grunge, Papa Roach is an American rock band formed in 1993. However, it wasn’t until 1999 that they enjoyed mainstream success with their debut studio album Infest.

The album garnered immediate attention and catapulted the band into the spotlight, earning them critical acclaim for their raw intensity and unapologetic approach. From that point on, Papa Roach has since released hit songs like “Last Resort,” “Scars,” “Between Angels and Insects,” and “Forever.”

The band has also embarked on extensive tours over the years, gracing stages alongside notable acts like Incubus, Limp Bizkit, and Eminem, further solidifying their presence in the music world. Their live performances are known for their high-octane energy and powerful stage presence.

Papa Roach has remained active in the music scene, consistently releasing new music that keeps its fanbase engaged. Their latest album Ego Trip was released in 2022, showcasing their continued creativity and evolution.

4. Daron Malakian And Scars On Broadway

A musical project led by Daron Malakian, the guitarist and songwriter of System Of A Down, Daron Malakian And Scars On Broadway was formed in 2003 and is often shortened to just Scars On Broadway.

The lineup has varied over the years, with Malakian serving as the primary songwriter and vocalist. With Scars on Broadway, Malakian and his bandmates deliver a fresh and compelling musical experience that complements their work within System of a Down while venturing into new creative territories.

The band’s music can be described as a fusion of alternative rock, punk, and metal influences, with a unique and distinctive sound that showcases Malakian’s eclectic musical style and songwriting prowess.

Scars on Broadway released their self-titled debut album in 2008, featuring a diverse range of tracks: from hard-hitting rock songs like “They Say” and “World Long Gone” to more melodic and introspective tracks such as “Exploding/Reloading” and “Babylon.”

5. Disturbed

Heavy metal band Disturbed is another iconic group in the ’90s. With a musical style that blends heavy metal with elements of alternative rock and industrial music, Disturbed has managed to achieve mainstream success while still appealing to fans who appreciate more experimental sounds.

The band’s frontman David Draiman has become renowned for his aggressive yet operatic vocal abilities. Interestingly, his feral sounds in one of their most popular songs, “Get Down With the Sickness,” were improvised by Draiman during a rehearsal, and the band decided to keep them.

Over the years, Disturbed has won numerous accolades for its unique sound and hard-hitting lyrics. Their hits “Stricken,” “The Sound of Silence,” and “Decadence,” among many others, have captivated audiences worldwide with their potent mix of heavy metal riffs, melodic elements, and raw lyrics.

Like System of a Down, Disturbed isn’t afraid to infuse its music with social and political commentary, making its songs not just catchy but thought-provoking. The two bands also toured together in 2006, headlining the annual music festival Ozzfest. 

6. Rage Against The Machine

True to their name, Rage Against The Machine is a force to be reckoned with in the heavy metal and punk-rock scene. Renowned for their politically infused lyrics, they’ve used their platform not only for music but also for activism, often appearing at political rallies and social justice events.

Their self-titled debut album in 1992 became an instant classic, with songs such as “Killing In The Name”, “Bullet In The Head”, and “Freedom” becoming anthems of protest music. This dynamic blend of activism and musicianship has defined Rage Against The Machine’s legacy, inspiring countless fans and musicians.

Tom Morello’s guitar work remains one of the most distinctive features of the band’s sound: his use of effects pedals to create unconventional sounds led to him being ranked among Rolling Stone magazine’s greatest guitarists of all time.

This distinctive guitar style also draws parallels to System of A Down’s music, where intricate riffs, unconventional chord progressions, and a broad range of tones and techniques play a key role. Both bands showcase their guitar work prominently in their songs, creating a robust and innovative sound.

7. Tool

For those interested in the heavier side of rock music, Tool is a band that needs little introduction. They are described as the “thinking person’s metal band” by Australian journalist Patrick Donovan due to their complex, layered music and introspective lyrics.

Their distinctive blend of progressive metal, art rock, and alternative metal, paired with philosophical and abstract thematic content, has garnered them a devoted fanbase. The experimental nature of their music is reminiscent of System of a Down’s style, which is known for its innovative approach.

Beyond their chart-topping hits like “Hush,” “The Pot,” and “Schism,” Tool is celebrated for their creative fusion of music and visual art. Their music videos, album artwork, and live performances often feature stunning, surreal imagery that complements their complex sound.

This strong emphasis on visual aesthetics adds an extra layer of depth to their work, creating an immersive experience for listeners. It’s this unique blend of sonic and visual artistry that sets Tool apart, further cementing their status as innovators in the music industry.

8. Rammstein

German heavy metal band Rammstein has gained international recognition for their unique music style and controversial lyrics. One of Rammstein’s most notorious songs is “Pussy”, which landed them in hot water when the German government banned it from public viewing due to its explicit content.

Categorized as falling under the “Neue Deutsche Härte” musical genre, Rammstein has made a name for itself with its industrial-tinged sound. The term “Neue Deutsche Härte,” translating to “New German Hardness,” refers to a style that blends elements of hard rock, industrial, and heavy metal music.

Rammstein has become synonymous with this genre, delivering iconic songs like “Du Hast” and “Sonne” that showcase their fusion of pounding rhythms and heavy guitar riffs. Their live shows also leave a lasting impression on fans, featuring pyrotechnics, elaborate costumes, and theatrical performances.

Despite language barriers, Rammstein’s music has a universal appeal that transcends borders. The band’s ability to convey deep emotions and narratives through their songs—even to those who don’t speak German—is a testament to their musical prowess and the universality of music.

9. Deftones

Emerging from the nu-metal scene of the mid-90s, Deftones has continuously evolved their sound over the years, making it hard to classify them in a specific genre. They’re known for their experimental approach to music, earning them the moniker “the Radiohead of metal.”

Their hit songs like “Change (In the House of Flies),” “My Own Summer (Shove It),” and “Digital Bath” showcase the band’s ability to balance intense, heavy moments with atmospheric, ethereal passages. Much like System of a Down, Deftones are not afraid to defy genre conventions.

The tragic death of their bassist Chi Cheng in 2013 deeply affected Deftones, marking a poignant moment in their career. However, through this adversity, the band found resilience and a renewed sense of purpose.

They recruited Sergio Vega as their new bassist, and his contributions added a fresh dynamic to the group’s sound. Their music following the lineup change produced hit songs like “Prayers/Triangles,” “Hearts/Wires,” and “Ohms,” each track adding to Deftones’ rich discography.

10. Linkin Park

Combining elements of heavy metal, rap rock, and electronic rock, Linkin Park is another musical act worth considering. The band’s breakthrough debut album, Hybrid Theory, was released in 2000 and introduced to the world to critical acclaim.

Hybrid Theory featured hit singles like “In the End,” “Crawling,” and “One Step Closer,” quickly earning Linkin Park a global and dedicated fanbase. Much of the band’s distinctiveness can be attributed to the unique vocal style of Chester Bennington.

His ability to transition between melodic singing and raw, emotional screams was a defining characteristic of Linkin Park’s sound. Like System of a Down, both bands showcase a talent for balancing heavy, intense sections with softer, mellow moments.

Tragically, Bennington died by suicide in 2017, leaving the band and their fans devastated. Nevertheless, Linkin Park’s music remains a symbol of resilience and connection, serving as a reminder that even in the darkest moments, there is hope and a sense of solidarity.

11. Mudvayne

Considered masters of progressive rock, Mudvayne has garnered praise for their music’s complexity and for infusing mathcore into their work. Termed “number symbolism,” Mudvayne creates unconventional time signatures where distinct riffs correlate with specific lyrical themes.

Mudvayne’s music, similar to System of a Down’s, is an audacious fusion of heavy metal with progressive elements, resulting in a distinctive sound that is both raw and sophisticated. Both bands are celebrated for their ability to weave complex rhythms into a hard-hitting, intense sonic experience.

“Dig,” a definitive Mudvayne anthem, served as a launchpad to their widespread recognition in the vibrant music scene of the early 2000s. Yet their creative journey didn’t stop there. Other notable hits like “Not Falling” and “Happy?” further showcased their innovative approach to metal.

Over the years, the band’s look has evolved significantly, with each member donning bold makeup and costumes during performances that add to their overall stage presence.

12. Avenged Sevenfold

Metalcore band Avenged Sevenfold is often mentioned in relation to System of a Down, owing to their shared affinity for a more innovative, boundary-pushing metal sound. Like System of a Down, the band experiments with a blend of harsh and melodic vocals, adding a compelling dynamic to their performances.

This powerful concoction is best showcased in hits like “Nightmare” and “Hail to the King,” where intense guitar riffs, dynamic drumming, and both mellow and screaming vocals come to the forefront. Their music is also marked by deep, often dark lyrical themes woven into anthems that hit a punch.

Despite the criticism that Avenged Sevenfold isn’t “metal enough,” the band stands firm in their musical vision: to play for the sake of music, not for fame. This exemplifies their philosophy of valuing artistry over categorization, a mindset that fuels their genre-bending approach. 

In 2023, Avenged Sevenfold unveiled their highly anticipated eighth studio album, Life Is But a Dream. With this latest release, the band continued to uphold its legacy of musical innovation, offering a compilation of tracks that traverse an exciting landscape.

13. Serj Tankian (Solo Work)

The captivating frontman of System of a Down, Serj Tankian, is not only known for his work with the band but also for his impressive solo career. With a discography spanning over five albums, Tankian has showcased his incredible versatility as an alternative rock and heavy metal artist.

Tankian’s solo work offers fans an intimate look into his personal expression and experiences. Tackling themes like politics and protest songs, he often incorporates elements of musical experimentation to complement the powerful messages within each track.

Tankian’s sound is characterized by his iconic vocal range, from powerful roars to melodic harmonies, often delivered with politically and socially charged lyrics. His solo hits “Empty Walls” and “Harakiri” showcase this unique approach, melding hard-hitting instrumentals with thought-provoking narratives.

While some similarities exist between Tankian’s solo output and System of a Down’s music, it is evident that they are two distinct entities offering unique perspectives on contemporary issues through creative artistic expression.

Summing Up Our List Of Bands Like System Of A Down

For enthusiasts of System of a Down, the music landscape is filled with a wealth of alternative metal bands that beckon discovery and appreciation.

From the innovative mathematical approach of Mudvayne to the legendary nu-metal style of Korn and to the genre-blurring music of Deftones, each band carries a piece of that same audacious spirit embodied by System of a Down.

If you’ve got a band you love that you think deserves a mention, we’d love to hear about it!

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Dan Farrant, the founder of Hello Music Theory, has been teaching music for over 15 years, helping hundreds of thousands of students unlock the joy of music. He graduated from The Royal Academy of Music in 2012 and then launched Hello Music Theory in 2014. He plays the guitar, piano, bass guitar and double bass and loves teaching music theory.