Sound — 9
An Ottawa music critic put it best: Scars on Broadway is like System of a Down on Ecstasy. Which it truly is. Between Malakian's melodic or shrieking voice and the manic guitar, Scars is strips away most of the pounding rhythms and thick, heavy guitar that made System famous. Malankian's music is like SOAD "Lite". Less force, more harmony. Most of the focus is on his impressive singing, which comes out full force, due to the fact that this is NOT an album that will shake the walls of your room. For the true System fan, "Stoner Hate" is the most like a System song, complete with pounding drums and lyrics sung at Malakian Hyperspeed. Also, I found that "Whoring Streets" is very similar to SOAD "Lost in Hollywood" (from the Mezmerize album). Unfortunately, the weakest song on the album, in terms of sound is called "Funny". The song has the intricate Malakian lyrics, but the sound is some hybrid of pop/rock/electronica. To some people that may be appealing, but for most people who are purchasing this album because of their love for SOAD, "Funny" way leave you confused at the direction that Malakian is taking with Scars. But if you can survive the fluff of the second song, the rest of the album is well worth it. "Babylon", is a personal favourite of mine, due to the fact that it starts out as a typical Malakian ballad, but then shifts to a lighter tone, and then switches to hard rock, and then becomes heavier. Finally, I want to address "Chemicals". Personally, it's my favourite song on the whole album because of it's contrast. It moves away from the manic instrument pieces of the rest of Scars and takes on a more traditional power chord hardrock guitar. However, Malakian changes his lyrics from intricacies to twisted offensiveness. It is a welcome pause from all the rhythmic craziness of Scars to a more traditional song. It is the most "normal" song musically, but lyrically, it is by far the most outrageous. Appreciate the hidden intricacy.
Lyrics — 9
When I flipped through the lyrics booklet, I was rather shocked. Compared to System, Malakian has taken on a much more minimalistic approach to his songwriting. System songs would be varied in their lyrics, with multiple bridges and short choruses. Scars lyrics go no more than a few lines. But that doesn't hold the song quality back at all. In fact, Scars seems to thrive on simplistic lyrics. SOAD had lyrics to provoke thought. Scars uses their lyrics as backing to their music, not vice versa. For example, the song "Cute Machines". It is one of the most musically entertaining pieces on the entire album, and according to Malakian, is getting a great reaction when played live. But the entire song consists of no more the eleven different words. But it Scars somehow pulls it off. As for the style of Malakian's lyrics, they are much less politicized than when he wrote for System. "Enemy", "Universe", and "3005" are the most consciencious songs on the whole album; whose lyrics deal with humanity's slow destruction of the planet. If you want typical, spastic SOAD style lyrics, listen to "Serious" and "Stoner Hate". The lyrics don't really go anywhere specific, but they are very similar to later SOAD. The Scars approach to lyrics: Short and Sweet. And how sweet it is.
Overall Impression — 9
A solid first album, and hopefully the first of many. I am not by any means encouraging the duo of Scars on Broadway to completely distance themselves from SOAD, because they worked so hard to build it. My hope is that System will rise again, but when the time comes that System is no more, Scars will be here to keep us listening. Malakian stated that he wanted Scars to be something totally new. He definitely succeeded at that. But what's better is that most fans of SOAD will enjoy this album, and new fans are sure to be won. Malakian created something new. But the best part about it, is that it's excellent.