Serj Tankian – Harakiri
Released: 09/07/2012 on Reprise/Serjical Strike
One thing is a given with a Serj Tankian album: it’ll be full of surprises and it’ll take some getting your head around. Harakiri is no exception to that rule. The things Serj Tankian achieves with his voice never cease to amaze me, the album is a curious mix of varied musical styles and as ever has strong political and cultural messages.
'Cornucopia' opens the album with dirty stadium rock guitars and earworm lyrics, before transitioning through several genres and vocal styles. There's a little bit of everything in this track and it's the perfect ambassador for what the remainder of the album has in store. 'Figure It Out' reminds me of System of A Down’s 'Toxicity' - with it's ridiculously fast rhythms, blistering lyrics and multi layered vocals, there’s a lot going on in this track and it's all exquisite.
'Ching Chime' starts with a bhangra rhythm provided by sitars, and progresses into a rap style chant. The choruses retain the bhangra influence whilst combining superbly with guitars and drums. It's infectious; I’m pretty sure I’ll wake up with this on a loop in my head in the morning. If you're familiar with 2007 release 'Elect The Dead' you’ll find 'Butterfly' comfortingly familiar, at least to start with. It’ll throw you a little though with its occasional ballad-y moments. The lyric “We are being sodomised by repetition” is largely true of the music industry in general but categorically not true of this album.
'Harakiri' is a beautiful track; thought-provoking lyrics are showcased exceptionally alongside Tankian’s ever evolving rhythms, changes in time signature, octaves and a beautiful piano final eight. 'Occupied Tears' is a darker more solemn offering. The Holocaust, war, a demand to the end of misery are all pretty heavy concepts, that said the track has great energy, an anthemic chorus and the middle eight is simply stunning - a complete departure from the rest of the track. 'Deafening Silence' combines electronica with soft lullaby-like vocals and whilst I’m not instantly loving it, it's tastefully done. 'Forget Me Knot' is another track that doesn’t exactly insight me to rave about it, it's just missing that little extra something that would make it pop.
'Reality TV' is a hugely fun track ridiculing everything about the afore mention TV genre: “I abhor the whore who calls herself reality” is quite possibly my favourite lyric from the entire album. It's a welcome relief from the often challenging subject matter of this album - think of it as Serj Tankian roasting the networks that perpetuate the thousands of vacuous shows inflicted upon us. 'Weave On' closes the album and has a punky feel to it, frankly I don't know how anyone manages to cram so many lyrics into such a high octane time signature and maintain such clear diction.
Overall this is exactly what you should expect from a Serj Tankian album; a multitude of styles and concepts across each track not just the album, constantly challenging the listeners perceptions and lyrics posing conscience racking questions.
Turn On: Ching Chime, Occupied Tears, Reality TV
Turn Off: Deafening Silence, Forget Me Knot