Serj Tankian – Harakiri Review

Serj Tankian - Harakiri

Serj Tankian – Harakiri

Harakiri is the third canonical full-length studio album by System Of A Down front-man Serj Tankian as a solo artist (he has released EPs, live output and a collaborative album with Arto Tunçboyac’yan as well however).

It was released in the summer of 2012, lasts around 45 minutes and was self-produced by Tankian. The album was written, in an almost Trent Rezonor-like move, by painstakingly assembling new songs out of thousands of samples from his previous albums on an iPad.

Some people will hate this album. If you’ve always disliked Serj’s personal politics (or agreed with them but wished he’d keep them out of the music) then lyrics about Occupy Wall Street and corporate corruption are going to be a sore spot. If you seriously disliked some of the musical moves Serj made with his previous album there are parts of that sound still on here, and if you come from a more metal background there is relatively little metal on this album at all. Furthermore, If you’ve ever said that some artist or other has disappeared up their own backside or became too pretentious, then this is an album that you may want to approach with caution so as to avoid disappointment.

If you have heard the album’s first single ‘Figure It Out’ and were very excited by its musical direction, with the chugging and double-kicks, then you may be disappointed to know that it is actually a little out of place on the album, and that there are really only two more tracks that are in any way similar, those being the album’s final two tracks. You get some punky, almost Crossover Thrash sections scattered throughout those three tracks, although obviously through the filter of Serj’s solo career style.

Elsewhere, stylistically, the album as a whole is a bit of a mixed bag. There are throwbacks to his debut album, such as `Butterfly’ which is a very melodic rock/metal track, there are songs closer to the style of his more electronic second album Imperfect Harmonies such as `Reality TV’ and `Ching Chime’ (the latter of which also fills the album’s token wacky/silly moments quota) and also the aforementioned small minority of faster heavier tracks. Then there’s the track `Occupied Tears’ which sort of bridges the gap between all those styles and which is an album highlight.

There are touches of eastern sounding music, a lot electronics (particularly percussion) and relatively little straight up piano or guitar sections like there were on his debut. The album has a sort of arty and experimental feel in a way that could be as equally described as impressive or pretentious depending on your point of view on Serj himself or indeed any other slightly progressive artist that doesn’t fully jump into the Prog market.

If I was being critical of the record I would say that it left a bad first impression and that it felt a little too disjointed and felt more like a compilation or soundtrack album than a proper studio album, although repeat listens
do dull this niggling feeling.

With all that being said, I just like Serj. I really enjoy his voice, his phrasing, the feel of his finger style on keys/piano. I could live without the wacky part of his repertoire (although there is less of that here than on any other album so far) but it isn’t ever enough to put me off him altogether. This album provides a mixture of the disparate styles from his previous work and gives the listener another set of songs with his voice. That is enough for me, but if it doesn’t sound like it would be enough for you then I would recommend that you maybe give this one a miss.

Overall, long after Serj is dead I can’t imagine that this is the album people will hold up on a pedestal and remember him by, it doesn’t feel like a classic album and there are quiet a few nit-picky problems with it, but if you are OK with that and aren’t demanding a flawless masterpiece then it is still worth a place in your collection or at the very least, a curiosity listen.

**Oh, and if you found this review by search engine, when you discover it again on Amazon it is me posting it. It hasn’t been copied and pasted off here by a stranger, I post my reviews on Amazon as ‘Gentlegiantprog “Kingcrimsonprog.”’ So please don’t unhelpful-vote it because you thought it was stolen from me.**

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