It’s not often that you see a solo effort come from the frontman of a successful group that engages the mind as well as the ears. Many times these projects are one-off attempts at branching out and, many times, these projects are met with lackluster response. Sometimes, however, these projects are met with reverence and admiration.
If the name System of a Down is familiar to you then you’re probably aware that the band’s singer, Serj Tankian, has been doing the solo thing since 2006 with his first solo album, Elect the Dead, released in 2007 and the followup, Imperfect Harmonies, released in 2010. And if you’re aware of that, you’re probably aware that the Armenian-American vocalist just released his third album, Harakiri, in July. What you might not be aware of, though, is just how brilliant this album is.
Serj Tankian is no stranger to political expression in his music. Since the very beginnings of System of a Down, with songs like “Sugar”, Tankian has been belting out lyrics condemning injustice, corruption, and a world gone mad. In regards to his latest album, one needs look no further than Tankian’s own description:
“The Cornucopia of love/hate affairs with Gaia have made us scream “F***! Let’s Figure It Out! CEOs are the disease.” Where abusive capitalism’s only fate is human/environmental devastation. The Ching Chime, diminutive drama of a gangsta Butterfly revealed that humanity’s tears actually outweigh yearly rainfall on the planet. We have witnessed Harakiri on a grand scale tearing out the Occupied Tears of victims preyed on by victims turned aggressors creating a Deafening Silence through which we hear a voice plead, “Forget Me Knot, my child.” Reality TV has become the searing indictment of a society best described as the Uneducated Democracy. The daughters of the evolution Weave On with blood dripping down their guilty hands onto the flag as the word republic is replaced by empire.”
– Serj Tankian
Musically and stylistically, the album is a punk rock jam from beginning to end with a brief intermission during “Deafening Silence”, which takes it easy before bringing it back up in “Forget Me Knot”. For an album that was written beginning-to-end on an iPad, it shows impressive variance and depth. The vocals on Harakiri showcase Tankian’s ability to lay it all out there without subjecting the listener to the constant assault of the signature System of a Down screaming and growling, which some listeners may prefer.
In addition to the album, an app was also released in Apple’s iOS App Store. Titled “I Am Serj”, the app allows fans to remix their favorite Serj Tankian songs. At 99 cents, it can’t be beat. I vote YES on both.