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A Tale of Brilliance and Mediocrity
on 11 January 2008
The one thing that System of a Down posses is the best rock voice of an age in Serj Tankian. Perhaps in the light of the bands last album being mainly the work of the rock pixie Daron Malkian, Serj decided to clear the decks of his own material. The first thing I'd say is that it is difficult to give this a context away from System as it bears resemblance in many places to their work. In a strange way, I feel it lacks the pieces of oddball madness so often injected into the band by Daron.
As a collection on its own, its a peak, then a trough then a peak. The album starts brightly Empty Walls is a fine choice of single and showcases Serj's vocals perfectly. Lyrically it's familiar ground too with modern propaganda, news and governments bearing the brunt of much of Serj's words. More or less up to and including Saving us, the going is good. The odd twinkle of piano does hint at a different sound but you know the script by now.
Then in the middle, the trilogy of averageness brings things down a quality notch on Sky is Over, Baby and Honking Antelope. The last song nearly saves itself with some good rhythm work at the end, but this is when the album fires back onto form. Lie Lie Lie is a really good melodic pop song, and is followed by the albums most eclectic track Praise The Lord and Pass The Amunition. Full of mad mumbo jumbo and bizarre sounds this leads us nicely onto Beethovens (insert naughty ladies part word here). Once of the heavier and better tracks on the record before the title track leads us out.
Overall, not bad, though the sequencing probably lets this record down. Perhaps 10 tracks would have sufficed to keep the quality consistent. That said, this is not a bad album by any stretch of the imagination, it's just not essential.