Hardly Imperfect, Quite Harmonious
If there’s one thing America loves, it’s a manic Armenian telling them that they’re going down in flames. Like clockwork, System Of A Down frontman Serj Tankian reasserts himself into the public political consciousness with Imperfect Harmonies, his sophomore solo album.
Right out of the gate, it’s apparent that this is Tankian’s most eclectic release to date. The symphonic hammering in the opening of “Disowned, Inc” quickly gives way to a strange hybrid of jazz and electronica, while still retaining classical elements. This trend continues throughout the record, with the unique blend of genres anchored by Tankian’s thinly veiled criticism of the state of the world. Touching on concepts like national separation in “Borders Are…,” world peace in “Electron,” humanity as pestilence in “Peace Be Revenged,” and the perils of theocracy and holy war in “Left Of Center,” Tankian straps us into the Ludovico apparatus and forces us to see the error of our ways. The album also contains the hauntingly beautiful “Yes, It’s Genocide” (sung entirely in Armenian), a direct call to President Obama to formally recognize the Armenian Genocide of 1915-1923 as promised during his campaign.
This release stands in stark contrast to Tankian’s previous solo effort, Elect The Dead. Elect continued the surreal heavy-rock/world music sound that System Of A Down is best known for, and indeed, could have been considered a “lighter side of System” album. Imperfect Harmonies, on the other hand, embraces the orchestral explorations of Elect’s companion record, Elect The Dead Symphony, eschewing traditional rock instrumentation for live strings, brass sections, textural keyboards and pianos, and layered vocals. It’s also far darker and more politically charged than anything Tankian has been a part of to date.
Fans of Serj Tankian should not miss out on Imperfect Harmonies. It’s a logical progression of the intense protest rock we’ve come to love and expect from him. However, fans of System Of A Down or Elect The Dead should proceed with caution, as this is not the “oddball metal” to which you’re accustomed.