Serj Tankian – Elect The Dead
Record Label: Serjical Strike/Reprise Records
Release Date: October 23, 2007
Sometimes you just know. After my first sitting with Elect The Dead, well, let’s just say I was less than inspired.* System of a Down finally announced their hiatus, which in turn freed up Serj Tankian to finish his first solo album. But let’s be honest, there is no hiatus. This isn’t a radical approach to political-minded metal. If anything is clear after Elect The Dead rushes by, it’s that Tankian must lead with an iron fist. Opener “Empty Walls” could have landed on either of SOAD’s last two albums. Tankian wails, damns his enemies to hell with fast riffage, and wails some more. Doesn’t sound so bad on paper, but...
Tankian has talent. He could snooze his way to a solid EP without even breaking a sweat. “Praise The Lord And Pass The Ammunition,” other than having an awesome name, mixes experimentation with the cuddly feeling of the expected. An apparent hip-hop vibe, stylized delivery, and heavy guitars make this song a “rap”-rock masterpiece. It’s weird and wonderful. “The Unthinking Majority” sounds like “BYOB” or, really, a multitude of other SOAD songs, but when was that a bad thing? I don’t know about you, but I missed lyrics like, “We don’t need your hypocrisy / Execute real democracy / Post-industrial society / The unthinking majority.” I have no clue what any of that means, but I’m pretty sure if I started reading books I would be like totally wowed. “Money” begins with a hypnotic piano and alt-rock stylings – music for a goth picnic. Then, surprise(!), crashing noises of all types rain down. Tankian shrieks over chainsawing riffs and cymbals galore. This dichotomy of loud and soft continues and really makes for an entertaining ride. Tankian’s ability to be smooth and crass, and his even more impressive talent to focus constantly changing structures and tempos makes Elect The Dead fairly enthralling.
If only Elect The Deadwere an EP. “Sky Is Over” begins like “Elect The Dead” which begins like “Honking Antelope.” The same spooky, slo(oooo)w intros redundantly bleed into filthy walls of sound. I call this the “leftover” effect: I loved that Chicken Caesar Pita, but after being nuked twice, the joy has all but vanished. I can’t be fooled, Mr. Tankian! These are reheated songs. “Beethoven’s Cunt” hints at greatness, but the verses lead to dead-end choruses and frivolous string arrangements. Each shift teases at some climax, perhaps a flurried guitar solo or mesmerizing vocal passage, but we are left with a cookie-cutter SOAD b-side. And maybe that’s all Elect The Dead should be seen as – songs the other dudes deemed not worthy. Still, there are some true gems in here, but rather than mass releasing them, Tankian should have produced a (just off the top of my head) limited edition, signed, gold, translucent wax vinyl. Fanboys can relax; change is a long way off.
*Yes, I did listen to this more than once.**
**ONE AND A HALF TIMES DOESN’T COUNT! – GOD
Recommended If You Like: System of a Down, System of a Down, Hugh Hefner's "Blonde Period," System of a Down, DS Lite
Oh, and is there really a song named “Beethoven’s Cunt”???
hahaha, yeah. Every review I've read for this album (you know, when I was copy and pasting lines from those reviews into mine) talks about how hilarious that song title is. I must agree. Terrible song, though.