The multi-talented Serj Tankian’s third solo record, Harakiri, is a diverse musical journey that carries an awful lot of philosophical weight on its back. The lead vocalist of System of a Down brings his distinctive singing style and peculiar songwriting capabilities to the table, unveiling a veritable abundance of punk rock-tinged goodness with a melodic edge.
Harakiri is actually one of four new albums set to be released by Tankian over the next little while. There’s also the orchestral Orca, the jazz-kissed and hilariously-titled Jazz-Iz-Christ and an electronic music collaboration with Mindless Self Indulgence’s Jimmy Urine that goes by the name of Fuktronic.
If Harakiri is any indication of Tankian’s larger musical vision, the next three discs will be a treat.
Fans of his work in System of a Down will dig the clever darkness he employs, gushing eagerly as he sometimes does through issues like animal rights, corruption, environmentalism, reality television, and foreign policy.
What really helps Harakiri, though, is its pop sensibility. Tankian plays to what works and serves the melody, orchestrating songs that are tuneful and catchy while fitting both the assets and confines of his voice. The scowling, grating growl that peppered much of System of a Down’s early work has budged naturally to the more organic, more melodic tone he exhibits here.
Tankian’s sense for the sweet, demonstrated in pieces like the stunning title track and the proggy “Deafening Silence,” really grows the record in a musical sense and moves the force of the message beyond his usual fanbase.
The punk rock influences take off on the first single “Figure It Out” and the frenetic grind of “Uneducated Democracy.” The latter is off like a freight train, underscored by The F. C. C.’s Troy Zeigler on drums and Dan Monti’s guitar enhancements.
“Butterfly” keeps the pace up with its lashing pace and guitar crunch.
There’s also the piano-led “Forget Me Knot,” a graceful track that makes great use of the capricious forces Tankian’s exceptional voice carries. His diction is on-point and the slightly derisive upturn in his vocals makes for some gripping listening as he prays for God to absolve the subject of the song.
While the future of System of a Down may be up in the air, Tankian’s solo career appears to be rolling along nicely. Harakiri is a good record and the fragments on the horizon point to what should be a relatively rousing next few records.