Elect The Dead Symphony
UG Team, on march 19, 2010 3 of 6 people found this review helpful
Sound: Serj Tankian has commanded attention with his powerhouse vocals and politically driven mindset since emerging on the scene with System of a Down in the 90's, but his latest artistic endeavor drives that point home more than ever before. Taking songs from his solo debut Elect The Dead and creating orchestral arrangements with John Psathas, Tankian has interestingly enough never seemed so at home. Everyone from Metallica to The Scorpions have collaborated with symphonies in the past with mixed results, but Tankian's absurdly wide vocal range is possibly the best match yet for such an undertaking. The CD/DVD Elect The Dead Symphony obviously won't have the same flash or energy that you might get at a System of a Down show, and yet somehow Tankian still manages to engage with his expressive delivery and the mass of talented musicians backing him.
Performed at New Zealand's Auckland Town Hall with the 70-piece Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra, the Elect The Dead Symphony features 14 songs, most of which are included on Tankian's debut record. The entire concert feels more like your standard orchestral presentation than previous rock musicians' attempts, primarily because Tankian not only arrives dressed to the nines in a gleaming white suit, but also because he could stand toe to toe with many opera singers out there. From the opening number Feed Us to the encore Empty Walls, Tankian's vocals never falter. In fact, he lets out a jaw-dropping operatic belt in more than a few numbers that just sounds incredible next to the lush orchestral arrangements. It's true that the energy never matches that of a typical rock concert, but it's still amazing how a massive string section can still pack a punch and this one does many times over.
While there are some wildly adventurous arrangements (particularly the vaudevillian Lie Lie Lie), Tankian isn't afraid to strip songs down when necessary. In Gate 21, a song which he tells the crowd he's never performed before, Tankian takes to the piano and creates one of the most moving, intimate moments of the evening. It's obvious that Tankian has a deep emotional connection to the songs (he declared that a song like Baby essentially came from the inspiration of the universe), and that's a side to the singer that although is somewhat apparent in System, truly is evident in 14 songs heard in the Elect The Dead Symphony. // 9
Content: A CD and DVD format are both included in Elect The Dead Symphony release, but they are essentially the same content. Given the serious demeanor that Tankian relays throughout the show often talking about how civilization is dying or the inspiration behind his music it doesn't necessarily make sense to have a whole bunch of wacky extras. So you guessed it: There aren't. While there is a good chunk of music during the hour-long concert and the beautiful arrangements are an interesting change from the solo debut's format, including a few extras (interviews or otherwise) would have been a welcome addition. // 7
Production Quality: Recorded in HD, the DVD is breathtaking to watch and Tankian pops off the screen in his eye-catching white suit. The director and editors wisely keep the focus on Tankian for a good deal of the concert, but the integral symphonic players, conductor Hamish McKeich, and key acoustic player Dan Monti are also given ample camera time. The audio is equally impressive, and you'll likely even have to turn the volume down in the first few minutes because the sound translates so incredibly well. // 10
Overall Impression: It's up for debate whether Tankian's solo work is as memorable as his material in System of a Down, but the frontman makes a massive impression alongside the Auckland players. While we'd hate to lose him as a central player in the rock world, the man has an astounding gift. The final orchestral arrangements actually seemed more fitting for Tankian, and the emotional delivery was only helped by the transition. Even if you're not a huge fan of the solo debut, the Elect The Dead Symphony will more than likely leave you with a very healthy respect for Serj Tankian. // 9
Elect The Dead Symphony
AlexGary, on june 16, 2010 0 of 0 people found this review helpful
Sound: After two years and a half, Serj Tankian comes back with a CD-DVD named Elect The Dead Symphony. This CD-DVD includes a live prestation of Serj Tankian's songs of his previous album Elect The Dead but he makes orchestral arrangements and creates 14 masterpieces.
First of all, since Toxicity, I'm a really big fan of System Of A Down and all members of the band. The Tankian's solo project is, according to me, awesome. With an orchestra playing his own songs and his opera-esque voice totally insane, the match-up is completely mad.
The CD include the same prestation than the DVD but the DVD is better because we can see the emotion in his voice and in his mimics, the reactions of the crowd, etc. // 10
Content: The show is a 60-min-long show. The setlist include all the Elect The Dead songs but "The Unthinking Majority" and "Praise The Lord And Pass The Ammunation" plus the two banus tracks "Falling Stars" and "Blue" and the two new songs "Charades" (song for Axis for Justice) and "Gate 21".
I think the show is the only reason why you must buy the DVD because it countains a very little behind-the-scene. But the extra is 5-minute long. That's really short for an extra that can be very interesting during one hour. Serj describes how the APO ask him to collaborate, where they rehearse, his parents and that's all.
Unfortunately, the extra is too short but the show is still amazing. // 7
Production Quality: The quality is very high-tech. The whole show is filmed with high-definition cameras and the acoustic is amazing too. We cannot have a best image and sound quality. The quality is near to the perfection.
You must watch this on your 48-inches TV with your stereo at loud! // 10
Overall Impression: That's really not the same songs than Elect The Dead album. The lourd sound of the orchestra is absolutely insane. That's probably the most beautiful music that I've ever heard. Some songs are better than the original like "Honking Antelope", "Empty Walls" and "Feed Us". But I think the best songs is the new one "Gate 21". That's only Serj at the piano, four chords played differently but with his voice at his best, from low to high notes. A-MA-ZING!
At the beginning, I didn't know how he arranged some songs with an orchestra like "Lie Lie Lie" or "Money" but the heavy guitar riffs and the humorous side of the first one is not an obstacle for Serj Tankian.
If the CD-DVD cost 100$, buy it and you won // 10