“Who the Hell is Serj Tankian dude?”
Tankian is one of the crazy members of System of a Down. Back in 1998, when their first album dropped, I was at a friend’s house. He played this song for me, “Suite Pee” (the first track on the record), and I was mesmerized by the absolute frantic nature of it. I wasn’t a big metal fan anymore but this was way passed it – each song had enough musical changes in it to make it sound like 4 songs in 1. And the changes happened so fast, without skipping a beat. And Tankian’s vocal skills were insane to me. He can go from a deep growl, to a middle Eastern chant, to a piercing scream, all within a few seconds of each other, without skipping a beat.
I left his house that day, in my 1984 Dodge Charger that I owned at the time, and headed to the store. I think that album was in my CD player for the next 8 months or so. I was hooked to it like a priest to a little boy.
Then Toxicity (produced by Rick Rubin – who actually produced all their albums) came out a few years later (2001). “Chop Suey” was the radio cut and I remember the first time I heard it play. It was months before the album came out. I was driving around in my 1995 Dodge Avenger (I used love Dodge vehicles for some reason but that is a story for another entry). I was with a friend and she was in the middle of telling me this story, when I faintly heard what I thought to be Tankian’s voice. My brain said to me, “Could that be a new System song?”
The asshole in me told my friend to stop talking. I adjusted the volume and listened to the rest of the song. It was indeed System and they once again had me. I didn’t have a CD player in the Avenger but when Toxicity came out, I actually purchased one just so I could listen to it. I guess you could say they are my Beatles. To that statement right there, I am sure some of my friends (who are devoted Beatles fans) are going to make fun of me and think I am crazy. Whatever. Regardless, that record remained in my CD player for the next 8 months.
Now, in 2007, System of a Down are on a little hiatus. Truth is, from the mood their interviews give off, it may be that we might not hear another System record for quite some time, if at all. That saddens me to no end. Musically, their chaotic style is so addictive, only topped by their lyrical talents. No subject goes un-tackled.
Then I heard word that Tankian would be putting out a solo record. It finally came out a week or two ago, and you can bet your mother’s milk that I purchased it the day it came out. Part of me was expecting just another System-esque album, just without the rest of them. Another part of me was expecting the traditional acoustic album many singers tend to strive for with their solo projects.
Then I saw the Rolling Stone review. They gave the album 2.5/5 stars, which isn’t too good but they also gave the new Kanye West album 4.5, so what do they know about good shit?
Serj Tankian and the Ammunition (11/2007)
It took a few go-rounds in the old CD player (this time in a different ride) for me to decide what I thought about it. Was it the piece of shit Rolling Stone described? Well, comparing it to the shitty albums they do give good reviews to, it’s far from. Is it a masterpiece? Not by any stretch of the imagination.
It’s in the middle ground – it’s good. Nothing more, nothing less. Two songs on the album make the purchase absolutely worth it though… “Praise the Lord and Pass the Ammunition” and “Elect the Dead”