System of a Down, a head-banging, hard-rocking group behind platinum albums Toxicity and Mesmerize, decided to go its separate ways in the meantime. Many of their fans were caught off guard by the decision in May 2006, but System has not ruled out a return in the near future. With the band now on indefinite hiatus, former lead singer Serj Tankian is going solo and is currently touring with the Foo Fighters.
Tankian recently put out his debut album, Elect the Dead, which has a more alternative sound than the work of his four-piece band. This might be a disappointment for the purist SOAD fan, even if his album has some songs that would’ve been hit singles for his old band.
Elect the Dead has its bright spots during the first six songs, including the up-tempo opening single “Empty Walls”. I think this really works as the first track and has a somewhat catchy chorus to go along with its heart-pounding guitar and drum playing.
After “Empty Walls”, Tankian seems experimental and takes some big risks by incorporating the piano and violin into a few tracks.
“Feed Us” opens with acoustic guitar and transitions into the first verse with a high-pitched electric sound and a violin. This song could potentially be the next single and brings out the wide-ranging voice of Tankian.
However, the album has more weak spots than brilliance; I feel like Tankian had a good feeling about three songs but didn’t know where to go with the rest of the album.
Every song from the second half of the album had similar-sounding intros with the piano leading into Tankian’s first verse, which was frustrating and gave the album no creativity whatsoever. He was not in his element with these softer tunes and presented a continually uncomfortable sound.
I will give Serj credit for taking risks with the album, because not many musicians tried something like this on their first crack at a solo effort. I really hope he goes back to his fast-paced, grunge-metal roots for his next work, or else he might have to beg his former band-mates to get back together.
But this album did not produce any potential hits other than “Empty Walls”, and was a huge disappointment for Tankian.