Serj Tankian

Harakiri

Written by: PP on 16/11/2012 21:24:12

I've been putting off the review of Serj Tankian's third solo album "Harakiri" for ages now because of how awful his sophomore record "Imperfect Harmonies" was two years ago. While his debut "Elect The Dead" was exactly what any System Of A Down fan was looking for, that album brought in symphonics and a delusional mindset of grandeur into his songwriting that did his unique vocal style no favors considering it's far more suited for catchy mainstream metal instead. It seems that the poor critical and fan reception has grounded Mr. Tankian once again because "Harakiri" is a return to the sound of his debut album, and alas, a return to a style that's the most SOAD sounding record since, well, SOAD's final album.

What that means in practice is that the dramatic operatics have been completely abolished, replaced by ethnic Armenian influence embedded into a punk and metal fueled clean vocal assault that recalls his best work during the SOAD days. Opener "Cornucopia", for example, has probably the most infectiously catchy chorus we've heard from anything SOAD-related since "Mezmerize", and "Butterfly" sounds like classic SOAD in every way possible, so basically like mainstream metal that's just borderline soft enough to be played in radios over here. More importantly, the majority of the tracks feature some of the strongest melodies Ser Tankian has written in a while. Track after track, "Harakiri" surprises with its sense for a uniquely catchy chorus that doesn't follow the same set-in-stone formula, which is one reason my initial negative perception has been turned upside down as I've spent time with the record.

But if there's one idea that keeps nagging at the back of my head even when all of the above is taken into account, it's that the album does sound dated by default. It references a very clearly defined era - the SOAD reign of the alternative metal/mainstream scene - so when presented with songs that so clearly sound like that era, you're immediately skeptical about whether you'd actually pop this disc on during you free time in, say, three months from the initial listen. But if you're not one of those type of fans whose taste is swayed by the years, then "Harakiri" gives you exactly the SOAD fix you need before their rumoured new album next year.

Download: Cornucopia, Butterfly, Harakiri,
For the fans of: System of A Down, Scars On Broadway
Listen: Facebook

Release date 10.07.2012
Reprise / Serjical Strike

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