Scars On Broadway – Album Review

4 stars (out of 5)

0

Scars On Broadway – AlbumSo it’s been a while now since both Hypnotize and Mezmerize were released and System Of A Down went on hiatus. Since then there has been tons of rumours that they have actually split up and will never get back together. This is totally false as they’re just taking the time right now to do what they want and go off and do their own things for a little while.

Serj Tankian came out with the highly acclaimed album Elect The Dead last year, which proved that he could do very well off on his own, and even landed some major dates in the UK, including his outstanding performance at the Download Festival this past June.

Since then there has been much talk about Daron and John’s solo project after SOAD, and there has been much speculation to whether Daron could pull out from being a back up vocalist to lead. Well the time has come and the name to add to the faces now is Scars On Broadway, which takes a great leap away from the traditional System of a Down we have come to love and drool over.

It’s true what they say about Daron, his vocals are the musical equivalent to Marmite; either totally despised or totally loved, it really is an acquired taste. First time listening to Scars on Broadway, all I was thinking about was whether it was going to sound like System of a Down or not. I listened to every track and decided immediately that I hated the album just because it strays a lot farther from SOAD’s earlier stuff. Then I gave it another listen, and once I let go what I wanted the album to sound like, it started to warm my previous frozen heart. I started finding that most of the tracks weren’t half bad.

One of the greatest aspects of this album may not be Daron’s voice per se, but more or less his skills as a lyricist. Now Daron wrote tons of memorable songs back in the day when he was playing with SOAD and has used his creativity to inspire some truly great songs on this album such as “3005? or “Funny”. Song writing is definitely one of Daron’s strongest points on this album and I’m sure if he wasn’t as talented as he was in this area, the album would have surely flopped.
Drum wise, John Malayan has returned to help his old SOAD life partner to do what he knows how to do best; deliver explosive and exciting beats on each and every track. This is basically the only flawless thing done on this entire album.  John Malayan really pulled off a show stopper here by not simply following the traditional “symbol, snare, symbol, snare” approach that a lot of side project bands fall prey to.

Now as for the guitar, this is half and half. Sometimes the song will have a great opening riff such as “They Say” and will get you automatically hooked, and then later on during the song some of the riffs will just bug the hell out of you and basically turn you off the song. Daron basically tried something new with each song on guitar to try and leave his old metal persona behind for a more rocker approach. Well it only half worked, and I kinda wish he had of stayed with the super fast booming metal riffs of old. I’m sure if he worked on the guitar side of things more he could get it a bit better, but overall the guitar in each song plays pretty differently and for the most part sounds awesome, but there are those rare moments to be careful of.

Now the biggest disappointment on the album was not the vocals, which I have come to enjoy a lot these days, but the direction Daron wanted the album to go in. He decided to put a lot of electronic style music onto the album, and it can get pretty old pretty fast. Don’t get me wrong, I love all sorts of electronic music, but putting Daron from System of a Down to electronic music, may very closely resemble what would happen if you were to put Gordon Brown on a hockey rink. I know what you’re thinking, and yes once I let go of the fact that this wasn’t a SOAD album, I finally started to take a shining to the whole thing especially on the song “Chemicals” which has now become my favourite song off the entire album, but this is just one of those albums where you have high expectations that are wanting to be met, not changed.

Once again Daron’s vocals are the main controversy over the entirety of the album. All I can say is that if you didn’t like Daron when he was singing in SOAD, then you won’t like him here. Just bare in mind that no matter how much we all wish it, this will never be System Of A Down.