Sound — 8
I've reviewed the Scars on Broadway album, so it's only fair I review this one too. It is remarkable how much of System of a Down's sound Serj took with him, despite the fact that Daron was their primary composer. Songs like Aerials, Question, Lonely Day, perhaps Hypnotize, would not be out of place on this album, which took the quiet, melodic aspects from System and split it up to a more or less permanent piano, and 2 guitars. One giant flaw in this album is the homogenosity (? ) of the album, with many of the songs sounding remarkably similar. In fact, at some point, two songs that play back to back sounds so alike at first that I thought the CD was damaged or dirty. Also, it seems that they lost much of the Eastern European melody that made System so original and attractive. Regardless, the nice balance of some heavy parts that were kept simple and the complex melodic quiet parts manages to make this album rather special to those unfamiliar with System of a Down and a nice blast from the past to System of a Downs older stuff. It does lack the heaviness of songs like Sugar, and Darons melodic guitar's absence leaves a whole in our hearts, but it cannot be helped...
Lyrics — 9
Serj, as always, has to hit every political issue. Regardless of what the song is about literally, you almost always hear the political lines more. "She came to me within a dream" is somehow lost as "Killing us, they're killing us" rushes in to assault your sensibilities. As a lover of songs that actually say something, this keeps me listening. Serj's skills as a singer are even more prevalent now once complimented by a piano, although his sccreaming skills are absent in this album. His deep warm lows and twanging highs (it sounds like I'm describing a guitar) manage to convey the lyrics nicely past the complex usic into our ear. He also managed to find a rhythm guitarist/backup singer, who, in Empty Walls, can be mistaken for him, giving the illusion of him singing two parts simultaneously (on the CD, it sounds like a simple doubling of the tracks, but after seeing him live, I saw the truth of the situation).
Overall Impression — 9
It seems that Serj and Scars will both forever be compared to System of a Down, and never as favorably... this album lacks the oomph and variety of SOAD, but to those of us who preferred the gentle, moving songs over the loud, weird ones, this album will do the trick.