Sound — 8
This is the band, Scars on Broadway (SOB), that arose from the 'separated' ashes of the untouchable System of a Down. Oddly enough though, that word untouchable has now be changed to touchable (just like in the film Untouchable) with this crackin' album. Just for a start, I will mention how little there is to dislike about this, it's just so much fun, keep that in your mind as you read this. To explain, the sound on this LP varies from classic System of a Down styling, Stoner Hate, Babylon and the hilarious, Funny with it's perfectly placed synthesizer effect. While Serious has the sharp contrast of The Clash, Ramones and other high-end Punk acts with Beatles-esque melodies that, even after one listen, will have you singing in joy! There are many triumphs on this album, in fact, there is not a single song I would skip, which is a quality, I predict, attained itself from old System of a Down records. One problem I noted on the first few listens though is the very simplistic layouts and patterns there is in this album. it's all very predictable and it therefore becomes a little dull after a few listens, not drastically of course, though. The middle of the album feels like filler, in a sense, between the excellent opening and the awesome conclusion. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but it does certainly drag this album down underneath shallow waters, it can still breath. Of course, this still retains the technically accomplished drumming of John Dolmayan, without the more metal influenced double foot, and it once again adds a depth to it overall that feels very homely, especially if you are aware of his previous work. The guitar work is a little more back to basics and is not as prevalent in the mix as you would expect from Daron Malakian, but I really love that surprise. It shows his abilities to experiment in the studio, not just in his writing process. There isn't a whole lot of information I feel I can add to this, apart from what I just mentioned: The art work is created by Daron's father, which coincides nicely with the theme of Red depicted throughout. The musical style is fast and heavy, soft and casual. Angry and polite, rude and pretty. it's all quite unfathomable! Another quick point to mention is the very laid-back method of recording centered in this album. There are very little overdubs or any heavy producing work ladening it down, which I am growing quite fond of recently. Something fans of stripped down engineering might look out for.
Lyrics — 7
I must admit, I wasn't overly impressed with the lyrics, but that's not to say they aren't very affluent and poetic. It just seems a little clichd with it's common rhymes and basic terminology. But, on the other hand, the often odd rhythmical patterns more than makes it up for that slight shortcoming. The lyrics are not as politically centered or potent as you would anticipate, but it's a nice break to the ears and the senses. It does, of course, being Malakian, preserve a certain belonging of anger towards American and many other policital 'issues', so any fans of that style of writing will have much to look forward to. There are a substantial amount of surprises on your first few listens, but after that, it just becomes predictable, both lyrical and musically. That is the test for me, if it still retains it's intrigue and wild, interesting language after many many listens have been spent. Unfortunately, this record doesn't quite reach those high standards of repeated interest. Nonetheless, it more than suits the musical style and keeps you happy throughout. Sorry if I missed anything out, this was written in a little bit of a hurry.
Overall Impression — 8
If you are looking for a new System of a Down, you are foolish, there will only be one SOAD, but if you are on the search for a quality record with excellent vocals, precise drumming, varying styles of music and sound then you are in for a mini treat. This is certainly better than Serj Tankian's album Elect the Dead, which just felt dead to me, but it's still not as good as any of the albums System of a Down brought out. I cannot think of another direct artist that would interlink with SOB's (yes, that is funny) sound accurately, unfortunately. I don't believe I am required to though. If I could compare this to another group then it would not have nearly as much appeal and creativeness. Highlights on this simple album include the weird and wonderful Chemicals, with it's iconic lyrics and entirely crazy introduction; The single They Say with it's crunchy guitar work, insane bends and true closing character; The gorgeous opener Serious with it's Hardcore vocals and swingin' drum beat; The country styled 3005 with it's potent, and rather darkly humorous, lyrics; there's so much potential for intense enjoyment hidden within here. What I truly love, though, about this album is Daron's vocals. It varies so much with each controlled alteration of song category and musical directions, that it's hard to recognize who it is. Cute Machines is a good example of that. He alters his voice to suit the songs more sadistic and sleazy attitude and it's quite surprising what he can put his voice to. The same is with 3005 where he opts for a more Lynyrd Skynyrd vocal approach. Although there are faults and options I am not overly keen on, it's still a great listen. Something you can enjoy many times, and I predict Scars on Broadway will be here for quite some time.