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Serj Tankian - Harakiri Album Cover
Author's Rating
Vocals 8
Musicianship 8
Lyrics 9.5
Production 8.25
Creativity 8
Lasting Value 7.25
Reviewer Tilt 7.5
Final Verdict: 81%
Member Ratings
Vocals 6.94
Musicianship 6
Lyrics 6.25
Production 7.94
Creativity 5.56
Lasting Value 5.06
Reviewer Tilt 6
Average: 63%

Serj Tankian - Harakiri

Reviewed by: Gregory Robson (07/09/12)
Serj Tankian - Harakiri
Record Label: Reprise/Serjical Strike
Release Date: July 10, 2012


To put it succinctly, California singer-songwriter Serj Tankian is one of a kind. As the indelible frontman of metal act System of a Down (SOAD) he has successfully married political and social commentary with chart-topping success. Not content with commercial success, the Lebanese-born Armenian-American has successfully moved beyond just making records and has founded the non-profit political activist group Axis of Justice with Tom Morello.

Never one to to be confined, he has constantly found new ways to expand his sound and his mission. Imperfect Harmonies, his 2010 sophomore solo album was a striking work of symphonic rock that showed marked progress and maturation from his SOAD days. So it was with great anticipation and excitement that this reviewer awaited the release of Harakiri. Tankian has gone on record as admitting that the album was arguably the most up-tempo punk-rock oriented record he's written since the SOAD days and sure enough, the disc lives up to that billing.

Whether it's the razor-sharp "Cornucopia," or the spiky lead single "Figure it Out," there's a palpable sense of aggression, activism and urgency in every passing second. Moreover, the punchy "Butterfly," and the craggy "Uneducated Democracy," show that even years removed from the SOAD days, Tankian has not lost his fight or passion. But at what point does Harakiri begin sounding like SOAD redux? Thankfully, on some of the album's other compositions he goes in a different direction. "Ching Crime," and "Deafening Silence," are hip-hop inspired and Tankian actually sounds comfortable and confident with his flow. In truth, much of this disc could have used more songs like this, but one can't fault the singer for sticking with the metal he's come to know and love.

The best two tracks on Harakiri are the gorgeous "Occupied Tears," which features a delicate and tender breakdown at the 2:26 mark and the near-perfect "Forget Me Knot," which vacillates between winning piano lines and searing aggro-rock. But what makes "Forget Me Knot," so remarkable is that unlike the many uptempo numbers that dot Harakiri, "Forget Me Knot," actually shows signs of restraint and delicacy. That is to say, Tankian has figured out that his message can be conveyed just as well on a simpler cut than on something urgent and in-your-face.

And yet for all the noise and clatter, Harakiri is best in its verses and wordplay. Tankian is in many ways a poet and has for years crafted memorable, thought-provoking lyrics. This disc is certainly no exception and the bevy of memorable lines on Harakiri are pages long. So while the disc may not his best album, it is still one that makes you think and challenges you. That in and of itself is why this album will stay relevant, cultural and important. Additionally, those that loved the energy and bombast of Toxicity will find something triumphant at work here. Even when he stumbles, Tankian says more and does more than most artists will in a lifetime. That and that alone is why his musical output is so important to the American rock landscape. Viva Harakiri and Viva Serj!

Recommended If You Like System of a Down, Rise Against, Tom Morello, Against Me, et al.


Find Him Here http://www.serjtankian.com
 
Displaying posts 1 - 9 of 9
10:27 AM on 07/10/12
#2
SShapiro
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to me, this cd is up to snuff with SOAD stuff...doesn't hurt that it was only 4 bucks on amazon too
02:23 AM on 07/11/12
#3
OnaedInSpace
she sucked and sucked and sucked.
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brilliant album. the best solo effort that he has released easily. second album was muck
09:08 AM on 07/11/12
#4
jasonisasleep
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grabbed it, but haven't listened yet, will tonight though.
10:15 AM on 07/11/12
#5
tomtom94
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I must be honest, I do like this album. Tankian is a unique and fantastic vocalist who has compositional skills to match. I take issue with the praise of his lyricism however, some of it - especially the rhymes - is pretty cringeworthy, and it seems to be getting worse album-on-album.

Perhaps I'm only just noticing it now, but as an example Figure It Out has a childishly simple political message that is overly embossed with faux-meaningful lyrics.

However, musically speaking, it's a fantastic album. I hope he will work with SOAD again but if he keeps writing like this I'm actually not sure if I'd mind.
10:17 AM on 07/11/12
#6
Travis Parno
my sensible heart
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very interesting read. enough to get me to check it out, for sure
10:53 AM on 07/11/12
#7
Acad08
@explorerbri
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Intrigued by the review and plan to now give it a listen!
01:34 PM on 07/11/12
#8
Spencer Control
Yeah I still burn from time to time
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This review made me more interested in listening to the album... not sure when I'll spin it, but.
03:02 PM on 07/11/12
#9
glogglies
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I must be honest, I do like this album. Tankian is a unique and fantastic vocalist who has compositional skills to match. I take issue with the praise of his lyricism however, some of it - especially the rhymes - is pretty cringeworthy, and it seems to be getting worse album-on-album.

Perhaps I'm only just noticing it now, but as an example Figure It Out has a childishly simple political message that is overly embossed with faux-meaningful lyrics.

However, musically speaking, it's a fantastic album. I hope he will work with SOAD again but if he keeps writing like this I'm actually not sure if I'd mind.
I don't think he is a great lyricist. He's great at writing lyrics, but theres no real brilliance behind what he writes. It's faux-meaningful, like you said, but it's always been that way with Serj.
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