Of Serj Tankian and SOAD

Posted by Abdel Kadz on Monday, April 21, 2008 with 744 comments
By now I guess everybody knows that the heavy metal band System of a Down is on a hiatus. According to the band’s bassist in 2006, Shavo Odadjian, “it would probably last three years.” But he added that they would not be splitting up. That’s a relief if they really will be reunited in the future, for the legions of SOAD fans out there. But it seems that the band’s (un)timely break from the music scene did not even take much of a toll, and I just have to thank Serj Tankian for that.

Serj Tankian, the band’s talented vocalist, released a solo effort in the last quarter of 2007. For the uninformed, his album is unmistakably System, with songs reminiscent of the band’s last two offerings, Mesmerize and Hypnotize. Everybody would have thought the same, deducing to the point that “Elect the Dead” is new SOAD material, just like most did between bands like the now-defunct Mayfield Four and Alterbridge or Soundgarden and Audioslave or Tool and APC (the list goes on). Listening to the album felt like the hiatus was just a rumor unfounded, and it was (for me at least) from the beginning track “Empty Walls,” the first song I ever heard off the album, to “Gratefully Disappeared.” But when the last track ends and you’re just left with a quaint static, it dawns on you that it is not SOAD. It is just Serj.

Artists going solo would make some to deduce that things may not be working out for the members of the band. After all, it’s hard to pit together four or more people each with different backgrounds and musical influences in one room. Certainly, if the efforts are not collective, they surely wouldn’t be able to come out with anything worthwhile to listen to. If this was the reason behind the hiatus (read: breakup) of SOAD, that surely is a letdown. The band has (or had) come a long way from their self-titled album released in 1998 to their last in 2005, and I could listen to all five on continuous play, and the pleasure I get won’t wane a bit.

I guess I have Serj in the meantime reminding me of the music of SOAD even if John, Daro, and Shavo are no longer in the background, accompanying him behind each song found on “Elect the Dead.” It will be great seeing them together back again in three years or more or whenever they plan to sit down, settle their differences(?), and produce an album. But Serj Tankian is here (and with an album at that!), and I hope his solo efforts will not be the only mementos of the SOAD that was.

Stream “Elect the Dead” here.
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