Serj Tankian

Harakiri

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

[07/10/12]
[Serjical Strike/Reprise]

Serj Tankian returns to the world of metal and hard-rock with his third solo release, Harakiri. Ceremonious suicide indeed, as this album is a continuation of Tankian’s previous solo efforts, with a lot of dabbling into new areas, and further eschewing of the sonic qualities that made up his younger years as a musician.

Harakiri was initially described as a more up-tempo and punk inspired album than his previous releases, but it is still as diverse and melancholic as ever. There are the fast-paced and up-tempo jams that make you want to pump your fist, but there’s also a nice assortment of mild mannered and slower paced songs on here to keep you swooning and interested in the flow of the record. And while the vocals are generally enjoyable and fun to listen to, no more is the music just there to carry the vocals. With Harakiri, it’s quite hard not to notice how rich and developed the bass and guitar parts are. The drums seem a little dry from second to second, but there are certain moments that are quite interesting and distinct.

Like all of Tankian’s releases — solo and System of a Down — this is a politically charged album, and while he has never been the most poetic on paper, his words are able to pack a punch. If you were to dissect the lyrics, you might find them to be poorly constructed or silly, relying too heavily on charged words to create a sense of “depth”, but when flowing through Tankian’s mouth, accompanied by his languid and gentle vocal melodies they are far more resonating, and impacting. He has a message he wants to deliver with each song, and often times he doesn’t want to sugar coat it. That’s not to say all of the lyrics on this album are “bad”, like always there are quite a few really clever and well written songs, but sometimes the bulk of the lyrics do seem a little on the nose.

Gone are the schizophrenic and other-worldly deliverance of vocal lines from the SOAD days, and instead in their place is the great skill that Tankian has developed over the past few albums; the ability to tackle songs with the catchiest vocal melodies possible. Some of them are staggering and awkward, like on ‘Reality TV‘, but most of them are fluid and well suited to the bright and up-tempo guitar hooks. Each song is accompanied with three or four different vocal melodies that are distinct and memorable, but still manage to flow smoothly and organically into one another, creating a dynamic feel and texture to the music. If you enjoy Tankian’s nasally approach to singing, then you’ll love this record.

Like each of Tankian’s previous solo albums Harakiri is an experiment with the unknown. It’s not his greatest achievement, but it’s still an enjoyable listen, with a lot of great song crafting. Despite the flaws in this album, namely the uniform and often times boring production, it’s an interesting record, and fans of the man’s work will find a lot to like in this release. For those who have disliked the other solo albums by Serj, well you probably won’t like this one either. If you’re still holding your breath for Serj to return to the crazy and off-kilter stylings of System of a Down, well you should probably exhale now, as it’s already been reported that the next few albums will be an orchestral album, a jazz album, and a techno-funk album. So, good luck!

Serj Tankian – Harakiri gets…

3/5

– EC

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