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Elect the Dead

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(67 Reviews)

Metal Album Reviews[RSS]

  • Since Malakian is not in this album, don’t expect any especially memorable guitar solos. On the upside, since Malakian is not in this album, fans who complain about his voice will have less to complain about in this album.

    Compared to SOAD albums, this one is less dynamic, although still insanely creative. It’s also less…freaky (no “banana terracotta pie” on this album). Elect the Dead is more serious and more overtly left-leaning.

    Overall, if your idea of great music is Kelly Clarkson (not that she’s horrible), don’t even bother, but if you’re a SOAD fan, there’s no reason not to buy this.

    Posted on January 7, 2010 - Permalink - Buy Now
  • “The debut solo album from the voice of System Of A Down”

    So the sticker on the cover states. Perhaps a subtle jab at System Of A Down guitarist Daron Malakian, who took over the majority of vocal duties on the band’s last album(s), pushing the eccentric, colorful Serj Tankian to the background and leaving a bad taste in the mouths of many.

    Certainly more accessible than his last side-project, Serart, and sounding more like System Of A Down than 2005’s “Mezmerize” and “Hypnotize” did, Serj’s solo album will come as a welcome refreshment to many a System Of A Down fans. While the last two albums were good efforts (yours truly still rates them rather high), they were missing a certain element that originally gave System Of A Down their appeal. On “Elect The Dead,” Serj Tankian tries to capture that spirit. In all honesty, it’s a pretty simple album. If you love his band and his voice, you’re going to love this album. It holds up just fine next to the best System Of A Down material, with the haunting melodies and random outbursts, calling out corrupt politicians and a complacent public. Aside from the typical System-fare on rocking tracks like “Empty Walls” and “The Unthinking Majority,” Serj busts out the acoustic guitar for “Sky Is Over” and “Baby” and the piano for “Saving Us,” “Honking Antelope” and the album’s epic closing track, “Elect The Dead.” Almost all the instruments are played by Serj himself, and he plays fluidly and seamlessly, almost like a real band. He gets some help on drums from Brain (of Primus/Guns N’ Roses fame) and System Of A Down’s John Dolmayan, but for the most part, it’s just Serj producing the sounds. Not to sound redundant, as it can’t be said enough, but “Elect The Dead” is definitely an album worth picking up if you love System Of A Down. It’s not too far removed from that sound, and Serj manages to add a few little flourishes here and there to perk up the ears. It’s good enough to be considered System-canon. Really, you can’t go wrong here.

    Posted on January 7, 2010 - Permalink - Buy Now
  • I’m so relieved to be listening to “Elect the Dead” after almost losing all hope with SOAD’s latest albums Hypnotize/Mesmerize. Upon reading the liner notes in the above stated LP’s, it became obvious where the control in the band had ended up. Don’t get me wrong I think Daron is a talented musician who works well in a back-up vocal role to Serj. but let’s face it. Serj is SOAD and I think most others will agree that an element has been missing in System since Malakian has taken over the primary writing and lead vocal parts of SOAD. I personally tire fast of the silly, meaningless, unintelligent side of more recent SOAD. I don’t know the true story on how it happened, but somehow either by choice or by force the voice of System of a Down was tracked to nothing more than a background voice. Too me, the album “Steal this Album” showcased Daron’s writing style, and for a B-sides album, it was truelly amazing! But let’s call it like it is. It (Steal this Album) was still a B-sides album. Both Hypnotize and Mesmerize had thier highlights, sighting “Holy Mountains” as one of the more memorable gems on an album set hindered by piles of Fools Gold. Okay, enough on the history of one of the greatest bands in existence. Let us give credit where credit is due. This album is nothing short of pure brilliance. The structure, balance, emotion reminds me of everything that I love about Toxicity, and SOAD’s self-titled release. I’m entranced by this album. After the second listen you’ll be hooked and catching little intricate parts that you might’ve missed the first time through. If you are someone into radio singles, this isn’t going to be for you. If you appreciate good music in the vein of Tool, RATM, Dredg. and Porcupine Tree. Pick this album up! This is the spirit of System of A Down and what it was meant to be. There is something to be said about passion!

    Posted on January 7, 2010 - Permalink - Buy Now
  • As an interested but not quite obsessive fan of System of a Down, I’ve been dying to hear Serj Tankian get the chance to explore his own vision. I have long been extremely fascinated by Serj’s unique vocal talents, and I was not happy at all with the last two SOAD albums, in which Serj was demoted to a part-time employee of Daron Malakian. But perhaps I have underestimated Serj’s contributions to the band, because this solo album features advancements in the best aspects of the SOAD sound, from the bludgeoning aggro riffs to the vertiginous timing changes to the violent mood swings. Even better, this album could be seriously viewed as an improvement on SOAD, rather than just a solo side project, because by applying his own complex muse Serj has made the sound more personable and immediate.

    There are some true musical advancements on this album, which will put to rest any doubts about the primacy of Serj’s talents. Most noteworthy are the highly unusual art-metal contortions of “Honking Antelope” and “Praise the Lord and Pass the Ammunition,” not to mention snippets of very believable piano-driven balladry sprinkled throughout the album (usually employed as introductions or codas for more aggressive songs). And regardless of the great musical achievements here, Serj’s voice is the reason for this album’s existence, and he effortlessly carries each song with his diverse stylistic changes, somber to frantic delivery, and curve-ball phrasing. In just a few examples of Serj’s impressive vocal acrobatics, check out his almost teary balladic singing in “Saving Us,” lightning-speed scatting in “Praise the Lord…” and bullying metallic chants in “The Unthinking Majority.” This album is a relentlessly fascinating display from a unique talent, and a showcase for one of the best singers on the scene today. [~doomsdayer520~]

    Posted on January 6, 2010 - Permalink - Buy Now
  • Having heard the two singles, “The Unthinking Majority” and “Empty Walls,” dozens of times on the radio, I knew I wanted to buy this album, even though it’s not my typical music choice and I’m not familiar at all with Tankian’s previous works or SOAD. The songs were catchy, they stayed in my head, and when I actually bothered to take a listen to the lyrics I was surprised and impressed by the complexity and politics.

    So, being a naive newcomer to Tankian, I bought the album, figuring it would be some dozen tracks just like the two singles. Not true, and in the best way possible.

    While Elect the Dead is a decidedly cohesive album in style and musicality, after the two title tracks it is surprisingly more introspective than I would have guessed. After listening through the album the first time, I was left with a feeling altogether different than the one I had from the singles. It was a much richer, deeper sense than the go-go-go politicism of Unthinking Majority and Empty Walls. Tankian has far more layers to his music than mere social commentary. While I won’t deny that there’s such commentary throughout the lyrics, there exist emotions above and beyond this social commentary. There are moments of melancholy and curiosity, eloquently conveyed by Tankian’s voice. The man can shout his lyrics with the best, but he can also slow and draw his voice out into a despairing line, calling emotions up in the listener.

    One element that’s definitely carried through to several tracks is the juxtaposition heard in Empty Walls — going from five hundred miles an hour to five, wild one moment and tender the next. The way Tankian does it, even though the various modes may sound entirely different taken individually, the elements complement each other in each individual song. The transitions hold your attention, and Tankian masterfully makes the transitions not repetitive so much as surprising. Sometimes you think you know what’s coming next — especially in “Sky Is Over” — and it’s something entirely different.

    There really are so many surprises on the album. Little musical riffs, things that appear only once but are so enticing you have to play the track over again just to hear that one little element, the way you never know what’s coming next until at least the second time listening, and a final track that I can only liken to a funeral dirge.

    And after I had listened to the album, I turned around and started listening to it all over again. If you’ve heard the singles and expect an entire album of the same, this is something better. It’s similar, and it’s definitely the voice of a single artist, but it’s not just more of the same.

    Posted on January 6, 2010 - Permalink - Buy Now