Serj Tankian of System of a Down shared a new music video for “How Many Times,” which is one of the songs off of his March 2021 solo EP Elasticity. It’s a stop-motion video directed by Roger Kupelian, who was the visual effects director for Lord of the Rings and X-Men.
The video begins with some biblical imagery. A white-masked couple eats apples from a tree while a black snake wriggles towards them, and then has to flee the garden while an angel with two flaming swords chases them. They hide from the angel, give birth to kids that turn out to be Cain and Abel and fight to survive. The video ends with a quote by 13th century poet Rumi thay says, “Somewhere between right and wrong there is a garden. I will meet you there.”
The song is a ride in itself, switching between a dramatic piano part paired with cinematic strings and metal guitar explosions. It builds up to Tankian’s belted chorus, “God waved us goodbye/To learn to love and to die/Death screams goodbye/We belong.”
“It’s amazing to be working with my good friend Roger Kupelian again whose images of the two kings (The Argonath) in ‘The Lord Of The Rings’ are stamps in New Zealand,” Tankian stated. “He also directed ‘Honking Antelope’ and ‘Reconstructive Demonstrations’ for us years ago. Excited to share this video.”
Now that this video has been released, every song from the Elasticity EP has a music video. The first was the title track, which showed Tankian acting as a living tattoo while a woman tries to escape a crowded waiting room. The second was “Electric Yerevan,” which used footage of protestors clashing with the police. There was also a video for “Your Mom,” which wasn’t totally a joke, and a video for “Rumi,” which is a black-and-white tribute to the poet and a document of Tankian’s spirituality.
Most of Tankian’s recent solo projects have been film scores. His last official studio album was Harakiri in 2012. Bassist Shavo Odadjian’s other band North Kingsley also released new music in 2020. The rest of System of a Down has begun releasing new music again as well.
In November 2020, the full band shared their first new singles since 2007, “Protect the Land” and “Genocidal Humanoidz.” The songs raised more than $600,000 benefitting relief efforts in Artsakh. In Fall 2021, they plan to return to the stage with some concerts alongside Faith No More and Korn.
Photo credit: Mauricio Alvarado