Serj Tankian – Harakiri (Reprise; 2012)
By Matthew Law:“powerful and penetrating”
The style of the album is in keeping with the tone Tankian has produced in his own work and with SOAD in the past. It has a solid sound composed of fast paced guitar, obscure instruments, and Tankian’s own signature voice. Mixed in with this core sound are a few more relaxed compositions; songs with influences stemming from classical music to traditional Armenian music.
Due to Tankian’s eccentric behaviour and style, fans will surely be somewhat relieved that he hasn’t tried to produce a dubstep or reggae album. He has stuck to what he knows; how to make a good rock album.
The vocal content is an area of division. Many fans like the fact that Tankian consistently discusses many different issues and causes within his music, yet others are growing weary. It cannot be disputed that SOAD songs like “Science“, “Boom!”, and “Prison Song” raised awareness of contentious issues in American society, but one can’t help but think that Tankian’s music is shifting from rock songs with some political content, to political songs with some rock content. This album is case in point: the instrumental work is fantastic and original, but there is still a sense that the message in the song comes first.
But is that a bad thing? Songs such as “Harakiri” and “Deafening Silence” are chilling and powerful, and serve as pleasing contrasts to the heavy – but extremely satisfying tracks – like “Ching Chime” and “Cornucopia“.
One stand out aspect of the record is the unusual instruments used throughout, that range from modern electronic to the traditional middle eastern. Tankian has certainly matured as an artist.
Overall, this is a fantastic album. Tankian seems to be able to create records that are less frantic and muddled than his work with SOAD. His own style is classical based, mixed with the right amount of heavy guitar and power vocals to make his sound powerful and penetrating.