Serj Tankian is one of the most interesting musicians in the rock/metal scene. His solo career is full of experimentation with a unique sound that makes it hard to look the other way with him, even without System Of A Down. Here we have the next installment in his solo career, Harakiri, and who knows what we’re going to get this time? His heaviest release to date? A repeat of past releases? Or, is it going to be maybe a little toned down than ever before?
I generally like Tankian as a musician. He always seems to have the basic flavors of good hard rock or metal while still being pretty experimental. But Harakiri actually seems a little less experimental than previous releases, and a little more on the mainstream side. It’s just a little more straightforward hard rock here and there, but I actually quite like it that way. Songs like “Figure It Out” and “Butterfly” would work pretty well as current hard rock releases, and they’re pretty cool songs as well. And other songs like “Cornucopia” and “Uneducated Democracy” have pretty awesome and energetic riffs to them. Harakiri has really just a few moments that could really be called “metal”, depending on your definition of the genre. But if you’re reading this review, you probably already like his brand of hard rock, so you’re going to like the sound no matter what. But for outsiders, if you like your rock a little heavier, then Harakiri really should be for you.
There are those odd little quirky moments that you could expect Tankian to add in the most random of times. “Occupied Tears” has sudden jazz-like interlude that makes you raise an eyebrow at first, but you’re always willing to continue the ride. “Ching Chime” also has the middle-eastern flairs that Tankian always seems to enjoy adding. But apart from all of the other oddities, we still have consistency in Tankian’s voice leading the charge. He definitely has one of the most distinctive rock voices of all time, and all of his nuances are still present on the album. The strong vibrato at high-energy moments, the random sound effects, the hushed whispers at soft moments continue to be the driving force of Tankian’s solo career.
Much like anything else that Tankian has ever released, there are deep sociological and political themes all throughout Harakiri. On his official website, he’s used all of the song titles in order to describe the overall theme of the album as such:
“The Cornucopia of love/hate affairs with Gaia have made us scream "Fuck! Let's Figure It Out! CEOs are the disease.” Where abusive capitalism's only fate is human/environmental devastation. The Ching Chime, diminutive drama of a gangsta Butterfly revealed that humanity's tears actually outweigh yearly rainfall on the planet. We have witnessed Harakiri on a grand scale tearing out the Occupied Tears of victims preyed on by victims turned aggressors creating a Deafening Silence through which we hear a voice plead, "Forget Me Knot, my child.” Reality TV has become the searing indictment of a society best described as the Uneducated Democracy. The daughters of the evolution Weave On with blood dripping down their guilty hands onto the flag as the word republic is replaced by empire.”
The added bit of conventionality actually might help the album appeal to even more people than just prior fans. It’s a pretty good rock album. Again, not really on the metal side of the spectrum, but still a good album nonetheless. The prior fans should have this album already, but if you’re looking for something a little more on the rocky side, this is a good place to go. If you didn’t like Serj Tankian before, this could also be your turning point.
Favorite Songs: "Figure It Out", "Buterfly", "Harakiri".