Thursday, November 15, 2007

Rockin' solo; Serj Tankian "Elect the Dead" review

What do you get when you take a frontman like System of a Down's Serj Tankian and, rather than slap him on some side project, set him free to create whatever music he damn-well feels like on his own? Surprisingly, you get something that sounds a hell of a lot like System of a Down, only with six times the piano and about three-quarters the rock.

I'm not saying Tankian's first solo album "Elect the Dead" doesn't "rock," because it does. At times, very hard. However, while still being as politically charged and over the top as ever, the man with the psychoperatic voice is surprisingly subdued from time to time. I will say this, I absolutely loved the heavy focus on piano. It works very well with his voice.

What we have here are 12 songs (with an additional four unused or acoustic tracks if you pick up the special edition) that range from thoughtful and melodic serenades to all out, head banging mosh stompers. I was worried about Tankian going out on his own, but "Elect the Dead" quickly put those fears to rest. With the exception of "Saving Us," not a single song has gotten old on the album yet. There's nothing better than popping in a CD knowing you'll never have to reach down and push the skip forward button.

While each track bears a bit of repetition, they are all unique enough to be easily recognizable for their individual moods, sounds and messages. Unlike most music these days, Elect the Dead's lyrics are genuinely worth listening to and require a bit of thought to decipher. The man has a lot to say and, quite often, the meaning is left for the listener to figure out on their own.

If you're a downloader, I recommend Empty Walls, The Unthinking Majority, Sky is Over and Lie, Lie, Lie. If you like those, go get the full album. System fans who don't consider the occasional softer ditty "selling out" will definitely want to pick this one up. It's a wonderful first effort.
image courtesy of Warner Bros.

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