An energetic comeback album
Daron Malakian and Scars On Broadway are not a new group to the music scene. Malakian, who is also known for his work with System of a Down, created the group in 2007, and they released their debut self-titled album Scars on Broadway in July of 2008. However, a couple months after that release, the group went on a hiatus, making Dictator only their second album and their first one in ten years. Dictator was recorded in 2012, making its release a long time coming, and it definitely doesn’t disappoint. Malakian showcases impressive talent in both his vocal range and his artistic skill. Dictator is an energetic rock album that should surely bring Daron Malakian and Scars On Broadway back to the forefront of rock music.
The album begins with “Lives,” a song with heavy guitar and haunting vocals. Malakian can hit a variety of vocal ranges, and this song showcases his vocals very well. The lyrics also contain a deeper message, sounding much like an anthem to anyone who feels like an outsider. “We are the people who were kicked out of history / We are the people who exist in victory.” Another one of the notable earlier songs on the album is the title song “Dictator.” Malakian’s vocals reach almost operatic notes, which is contrasted with the rapping turned screaming vocals towards the end of the song. It’s an eclectic song with a variety of musical styles, much like the album itself, making it an obvious choice for the title song.
Some notable later songs on Dictator are “Guns Are Loaded,” “Talkin Shit” and “We Won’t Obey.” “Guns Are Loaded” is a slower song until about halfway through, when the drum beat and the guitar hits, making it sound like a completely different song. The lyrics, in the beginning, are kind of ominous, talking about what sounds like the end of times. “When time expires on earth / I tell you, you know it’s over / When all the guns are loaded close by you.” “Talkin Shit” is a different song in that it’s kind of humorous while seeming to reference paranoia. “All of your friends are watching you as you go by / All of your friends are talking shit while they get high.” The guitar riff towards the end is arguably some of the best musical talents in the whole album, making “Talkin Shit” an essential song.
The final song on Dictator is “Assimilate,” a cover of the Skinny Puppy song of the same name. It starts with a fast guitar riff, drawing in listeners instantly. The fast lyrics throughout contrast well with the screams of “rot and assimilate” that make up the chorus. Despite it being a remake of a song from 1985, the song feels just as modern as the rest of the songs on Dictator. It’s a great way to wrap up the album, as it showcases Malakian’s range of vocals and the group’s talent as a whole.