Imperfect Harmonies review by Serj Tankian

logo Ultimate Guitar
  • Released: Sep 21, 2010
  • Sound: 8
  • Lyrics: 8
  • Overall Impression: 8
  • Reviewer's score: 8 Superb
  • Users' score: 7.4 (107 votes)
Serj Tankian: Imperfect Harmonies
2

Sound — 8
The creative mind of Serj Tankian is a captivating and often jarring one. Love or hate the System of a Down frontman, he is one of few hard rock/metal vocalists who continue to push the boundaries of musical tradition. For his second solo offering Imperfect Harmonies, the title in many ways couldn't be more perfect. There is an unsettling quality to the tracks on the album partly due in part to the apt, chaotically askew harmonies that satiate the record and there's no shortage of drama. The metal aspect of Tankian is once again set aside for a more symphonic venture and this path is a fitting one for the singer's operatic chops. The one issue that could be raised is that Imperfect Harmonies is cramming in so many artistically daring choices into one record that it could be construed as an exhausting listening experience. Opening the CD is the high-energy, multifaceted Disowned Inc., which is easily the most aurally pleasing track on the CD. That's not to say that Disowned Inc. makes for your typical radio single because it most certainly doesn't fit in any mold. Including everything from a popping, emotional string section to more subdued piano lines, the track pulls you in without being too much of a shock to the system. Yes, Tankian brings out his unusual harmonies that combine his normal mid range with a frightening high falsetto, but even that move works to the song's advantage. Although the rock genre is represented by the mere intensity of Imperfect Harmonies, the album also pulls from a myriad of genres including electronic, jazz, and classical. Some artists might tackle one at time, but Tankian isn't afraid to make a Frankenstein arrangement with a bit of every genre as is the case with Beatus. The song Deserving even takes on a disco-like approach in moments. Tankian does deserve credit for attempting such grandiose arrangements and in most instances there is a cohesiveness to it all, but do be prepared for more than a few moments of spastic craziness throughout the 11 tracks. For the multiple moments where Tankian returns to his symphonic side, New Zealand's Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra the same group that collaborated with the vocalist on the Elect The Dead Symphony was utilized. Gate 21 and Yes, It's Genocide both convey the most traditional classical/operatic sound, with Tankian's purist vocal stylings showcased on these powerful ballads. Wings of Summer features a feminine counterpart with Shana Halligan from Bitter:Sweet providing guest vocals, and even this duet is far from typical. This closing track is characterized by often mismatched vocals and Halligan even laughing at Tankian's unusual lyric at one point (I ran over the guy with a Hummer). Bizarre would be an appropriate term for a good deal of Imperfect Harmonies, but you can't accuse Tankian of lacking courage and/or creative ingenuity.

Lyrics — 8
While it's true that there are some instances of Tankian venturing into more politically and or socially conscious territory on Imperfect Harmonies, a good deal of the songs revolve around the eternal theme of love. Tankian's musical style is a bit more daring than the lyrical aspect, but that's not to say that the singer's words aren't moving in a more traditional way. Gate 21 (The love that you bring; You bring me alone; The pain that you give; Gives me a home) and Beatus (Yesterday when you opened your eyes; In the morning and you rushed my soul; Memories connecting all to her; Have I lost you again?) delve into the subject of love, but Borders Are and Reconstructive Demonstrations broach more political/global subjects. Tankian never gets overly specific with his references, but the vagueness perhaps lends itself to reaching a broader audience.

Overall Impression — 8
You can approach the listening experience for Imperfect Harmonies with open arms in terms of his almost schizophrenic creativity or reject itfor the same reason. Tankian has gone above and beyond in terms of songwriting, and the clash that amid the various genres and harmonies often is jolting. Even with a few aural bumps and bruises that may occur, Tankian earns plenty of brownie points for somehow making a mish mash of styles ultimately work together.

73 comments sorted by best / new / date

    fret13
    Chylyn wrote: I refuse to acknowledge his career outside of System.
    Get over it. Honestly people, let go of System, they were a great band but they've moved onto bigger and better things. Serj Tankian's music after leaving them, in my opinion, is outstanding and very musically talented.
    Krieger91
    I love this guy and I've got to try this album out. He's one of my favourite current artists, extremely talented in my opinion.
    sb5fdp
    Honestly I believe SOAD and Serj by himself are about equal. I love Serj's ability to push the boundries of normal music and create something that can inspire people
    pickofdestiny89
    I actually don't really like the album. Maybe one or two songs like Borders Are but thats pretty much it. I found that most of the songs sound too much the same... I think he is very talented but I don't like the direction he taking at all! I wish he would to some more rock because thats what I like him for and many other people too! In his solo career I like Empty Walls and Beethoven's C*** the most so far and I hope he will make some more songs like this! Still I hope SOAD will get back together at some point even if it is for just one more album because Daron is great at the Guitar, Serj awesome in the vocals and they produced good lyrics which is exactly what so many people want to hear!
    Angerday
    I'm not saying that this album was bad, or what any of the SOAD members do is bad. It's just as seperate minds their able to make that cool crazy sound. but it still feels like there's something missing in each song. and that other key factor is the rest of system. with Serj's voice, lyrics, and piano, combined with Shavo's awesome bass groves, mixed in with John's psycho drum skills, and Daron's technique to push the boundaries of riffs. they were a monster to be reckoned with called SOAD. i hope one day they realize this and get back together.
    RC52190
    DualReaver wrote: thebigredjj10 wrote: Personally I thought this album was beautiful. I can't see how people thought it was a bunch of random sounds with him singing over top, it is actually quite good musically. SoaD was quite simple musically so I guess some people can't see past that. Sad... because this is beautiful. retard alert
    When you create a full solo album with 150-200 tracks on each song, then maybe you'll have the right to call people "retards." This guy just said something very smart and musically aware and all you have to say is he's a retard. Thank you for alerting us to your own presence though.
    RC52190
    Granted, I don't like what I've heard off of this album really (albeit only a couple songs), major props to Serj for trying to find his own unique direction. All the people bashing him and saying "I hate the direction he's going in," he's said in interviews in so many words that this album is basically experimental (as was his first), so the direction he's "going in" will be based off of the reaction to this album. People just need to lay off bashing him and respect him for finding his own sound.
    grain o sand
    system is getting back together! i heard it on Kroq. theyre gonna get back together next year
    thebigredjj10
    Personally I thought this album was beautiful. I can't see how people thought it was a bunch of random sounds with him singing over top, it is actually quite good musically. SoaD was quite simple musically so I guess some people can't see past that. Sad... because this is beautiful.
    thisaradj
    This album is good. Also it is true that it is much different from Serj's past work. However, 'God**** Trigger' was much similar to SOAD work.
    Superperfex
    Wah wah wah, my opinion is supreme blah blah blah. Seriously, we are all entitled to opinions, but we shouldn't explode on someone posting their own. I, for one, like this album. It's not as good and catchy as his first but it deff is more creative and experimental. And although I love SoaD, I'm not crying for them to come back. That's for them to decide. They're not a boyband guys, stop crying over them and let em do their thing.
    The_String_Man
    Angerday wrote: AeternumBM wrote: Fuck system , you fags actually support this Arab? their armenian.
    troll pwned
    horandago
    I gave the album a 1st listen and i really enjoyed it. I did brace my self before listening, but i was pleasantly releived of the outcome. I actually don't listen to much metal anymore, so i'm used to this sort of thing. I think people should explore different types of music. After I did this, i appreciated so many more things and have never regretted it. You may not like this just because you like soad...remember, serj told you again and again that it will be nothing like soad, so if you expected it then i'm some what glad that you're dissapointed
    Angerday
    AeternumBM wrote: Fuck system , you fags actually support this Arab?
    their armenian.
    slipknot5678
    I actually like this more than most System of a Down. This album is beautiful. The only problem is a lot of it sounds too similar.
    Nickstiles
    jetfuel495 wrote: Individual SOAD members are like pieces to a puzzle.
    So true. Only combined can they put out truly amazing music.
    rocker222
    BloodRedSkies wrote: people thinking Serj can't sing = failwhale
    he cant sing anything that is not metal is what we mean to say. System=yes Solo=no
    billybobsarm
    i can honestly say i dont like this album, listened to it once and never again, it was terrible, no im not a crazy SOAD fan, infact i only like a few SOAD songs but i love elect the dead, what people commenting seem to be forgetting is the actual sound of it, does it sound good or bad, not is it stepping outside of common grounds ect. he tried and like all, sometimes a success other times a failure. this one was a failure IMO!
    JohnGR
    Serj is awesome and I think his solo career has a lot to offer. Excellent album,but truth is I didn't think so at first. After the 3rd or 4th time I listened to it I started to get it. It's genius!
    zee_nunez
    i think serj as a part of a band is different from serj the solo artist. about the album i do think its too... i dont "orchestrated"? by that i'm referring to the use of instrument not found in heavy rock/metal sound. i need to listen to it more though see if i'm going to like it, but so far i thinks its quite a good effort in his part.
    Metallica>Life
    Music is not bad or good. Share your opinions on the music or how it appeals to you, but please no deliberations on what sucks and what doesn't. If it sounds good to you, it rocks.
    bonekrusha27
    Something about his vox remind me of that girl from the Dixie Chicks...that kind of super strong, flat delivery. He sounds like a goat getting kicked in the teet. His lyrics sounds so forced that it's not listenable for me.
    Metallicaloveu
    I seriously like this album and that's coming from someone who considers SOAD to be his favourite band! Just because it's filled with strings instead of distorted guitars doesn't mean it's bad, it's a different album and doesn't have to be anything like the SOAD days, it's to be taken as an individual piece of work and shouldn't be compared.
    silentpsycho15
    I honestly am looking at Serj's new music as any other artist not the former frontman of one of the greatest metal bands of all time , and from that view point I cant seem to like his music although it is musically interesting and different in a good sense , but from actually liking it ill never be able to... P.S. Dont hate my honest opinions like little pissed off bitches
    TsarBomba
    The irony is always lost on people who say they don't care at all, or 'couldn't be bothered' on a message board.
    Captain Insano
    I listened it was OK, I thought most the song relied too heavily on some sort of paino arangement, and his voice. I wish there was a bit more heaviness to it all.
    Exwic
    Stop comparing this album to Serj's other work. There are elements of this album that make it so different it hurts to see people comparing it, especially to System Of A Down. Like it or hate it for what it is. Personally, I like it and the more I listen to it the more it grows on me.
    DualReaver
    RC52190 wrote: DualReaver wrote: thebigredjj10 wrote: Personally I thought this album was beautiful. I can't see how people thought it was a bunch of random sounds with him singing over top, it is actually quite good musically. SoaD was quite simple musically so I guess some people can't see past that. Sad... because this is beautiful. retard alert When you create a full solo album with 150-200 tracks on each song, then maybe you'll have the right to call people "retards." This guy just said something very smart and musically aware and all you have to say is he's a retard. Thank you for alerting us to your own presence though.
    weeeooo weeeooo weeeoooo *break*
    acade365
    BwareDWare94 wrote: Has his singing gotten any better? Forget any, how about MUCH MUCH better? If not, I'm not even remotely interested.
    no. he's still ****ing annoying.
    cortes239
    I respect the members on SOAD. But what they are doing is just stupid. Nothin I hate more than when a band gets known and takes advantage of that to do something else. SOAD is way better than all of the member's side projects combined. They need to get back together and make some real music because nobody is these days.
    Suav Nitebeest
    I liked Elect the Dead but was a bit disappointed. The songs weren't bad by any means, but a lot of them followed a similar formula of melodic and often acoustic verses followed by loud powerchord choruses. I was hoping most of the songs would be more along the lines of "Praise the Lord and Pass the Ammunition" or Serj's work with Serart. I like what I've heard so far from this album though.
    Cranker
    Honestly, I'm really disappointed in the whole thing. I loved elect the dead, but you can tell he's forcing this album. Terrible rambling over very dull music. Sorry serj
    Vypor
    fret13 wrote: Chylyn wrote: I refuse to acknowledge his career outside of System.Get over it. Honestly people, let go of System, they were a great band but they've moved onto bigger and better things. Serj Tankian's music after leaving them, in my opinion, is outstanding and very musically talented.
    Word.
    Mind_Reader7
    I love the album, but when I was listening to it at first, and I heard him going "Disease disease disease disease disease dissseeeeease!!" I kinda laughed.
    rattleurhead
    KlinikaNekros : This dude is awesome.I mean,going out of the stereotypical metal guitar riffs and bringing in melody,strings and whatnot..that's ballsy.And it's also a great listening experience..it's a shame that diehard metalheads and/or SOAD fans will ditch this album,just because it's "softer".
    I'm a die hard metalhead and SOAD fan, and I dont really like this album, not because its "softer", i actually love alot of soft music. I dont really like it because its just strange. Its ballsy what he did but i dont think it really sounds all that good
    Mike_Atherton
    This album kind of reminded me of a candian band called Unexpect, same sort of erratic chaoticness to the writing and songs
    bamboy1104
    Serj is such a talented man with a powerful voice. This review was very helpful towards me buying his new album because I am just mostly a system of a down fan.
    God_Knows
    I think the orchestration, ranges, genre influences, harmonies, and instrumentation used in this album are very versatile, which is very good and fun to listen to. However, the songs to which all of these things apply, are simple bland in my opinion. Therefore I give it a 7.5, maybe even a 7. Perhaps a few more listens will change my mind.
    KlinikaNekros
    This dude is awesome.I mean,going out of the stereotypical metal guitar riffs and bringing in melody,strings and whatnot..that's ballsy.And it's also a great listening experience..it's a shame that diehard metalheads and/or SOAD fans will ditch this album,just because it's "softer".