Album Reviews

Serj Tankian – Harakiri Review

Released By : Reprise Records

Genre : Alternative Metal, Alternative Rock

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01. Cornucopia

02. Figure It Out

03. Ching Chime

04. Butterfly

05. Harakiri

06. Occupied Tears

07. Deafening Silence

08. Forget Me Knot

09. Reality TV

10. Uneducated Democracy

11. Weave On


Many people agree that SYTEM OF A DOWN front-man Serj Tankian is one of the more eclectic and interesting artists going around today. Is he the current generation version of Frank Zappa or Captain BeefHeart?… Well maybe not quite, maybe a better comparison is Mike Patton, but he’s certainly earned each and every bit of acclaim thrown his way. The downside for the general music listener though is that when you are following somebody that is eclectic there’s every chance that you can’t possibly enjoy everything they release. Tankian’s solo work has been a lot like this in the fact that not much of it has represented anything he ever did with SOAD, thus leaving many fans scratching their heads.

Serj Tankian’s latest release HARAKIRI may still be a fair bit away from the SOAD material but it’s definitely the closest he has sounded at any stage of his solo career, and the album as a whole is probably the best thing he has been a part of since TOXICITY. There is a much more evident metal edge to the material on offer throughout HARAKIRI, but in keeping his solo musings separate from his band work there is also plenty of other stuff going on too.  Some Trip-Hop styled beats occasionally, a few songs that feature some smartly applied Beat-Boxing, a touch here and there of World Music and even some dirty punk rock too. The positive for metal and rock fans though is that Serj’s fascination with electronica seems to have been left aside for this one, maybe he’s just priming himself up for the possibility of a new SYTEM album sometime near in the future.

As to be expected with anything Serj related, one of the true talking points of the album is the lyrical content. It’s very politically charged of course and features plenty of moments of interest from an outsider’s point of view. But it wouldn’t be a Tankian album if it was too easy to decipher and as expected the album throws out plenty of hard to decipher lyrics that may well have deeper meanings, but then again for art’s sake, may just be the twisted musings of a deranged artist in his cryptic prime.

In what I personally consider a very clever move, the first ten seconds of the opening track CORNUCOPIA are very SYSTEM OF A DOWN in style and even though the rest of the song doesn’t quite follow suit, the SOAD vibe has already been imbedded in your head, the alternative metal vibe continues into the second track FIGURE IT OUT too.  The first real oddball track comes next with CHING CHIME, which has a mixture of a Middle Eastern and Eastern Music as a backbone and verses that could almost considered Rap. A really, really good chorus vocal ensures the track still offers up enough to please the fans. BUTTERFLY is one of the best songs Tankian has written in a long time both in the lyric department and the musical elements too, once again it’s not quite SYSTEM material but it’s a pretty darn good imitation. HARAKIRI is a touch slower and it’s really odd hearing that unique Serj higher register on a track that is almost modern radio rock in nature. OCCUPIED TEARS is a bit of a meeting point between the more metal edge stuff and the orchestral stuff from early in Tankian’s solo career, DEAFENING SILENCE and FORGET ME KNOT combine as a bit of a flat spot toward the end of the album with both tracks sounding a bit more like the electronica-based junk pop from Serj’s previous solo effort IMPERFECT HARMONIES, and also a little like the soundtrack collaboration song that Tankian did a couple of years ago with Shirley Manson from GARBAGE. The album then quickly shifts back into high gear with a real gem in REALITY TV, this here is the perfect example of how Serj’s vocal style, quirky lyrics and heavier music can gel together perfectly. It also features one of the best lines Serj has ever penned in “I abhor the whore that calls herself reality TV”…Now that’s a sentence I can get right behind! UNEDUCATED DEMOCRACY and WEAVE ON close the album with some frenetic pace and some of the heaviest music Serj has put his name to in a long time.

Fans hoping for the second coming of SYSTEM OF A DOWN may not quite get ehat they are looking for out of this album, but if you are a fan of Serj Tankian’s truly unique vocal styles and his interesting, meaningful lyrical approach then theres certainly more to grab onto on HARAKIRI than anything else Serj has released out of the confines of his main band. In an age where most music released is strictly following a genre or mixing in whatever trend is hot at the time you’ve got to give Serj Tankian credit… He does what he wants and if you like it then that’s good, but he doesn’t strike me as the type of person that would worry too much about making music to please the masses.


Written By ZeeZee

Rating : 9/10

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