Anyone who has heard any song by System of a Down knows that they are heavy, fast, razor sharp, lyrically political, and lush with musical ability. They’re also kind of odd. I read a review once that said something I’ll always remember: “SOAD eschews the traditional verse/chorus/verse structure in favor of a ‘you’ll never guess what’s coming next’ layout.” And how. Singers Serj and Daron produce some harmonies that are to die for, and if you like thinking man’s metal, they deliver in spades.

SOAD went on hiatus in 2006 or so, after supporting their double release of Mesmerize/Hypnotize, two albums that were released a year apart but were recorded together and designed to be listened to together. I think they are quite different from each other, with Mesmerize being a collection of songs that could live on their own as singles, whereas Hypnotize always begged to be listened to as a whole.

With the hiatus came the requisite solo efforts by various band members. Serj collaborated with folk multi-instrumentalist Arto Tunçboyacıyan to form Serart, and Daron teamed up with John (SOAD’s drummer) to form Scars on Broadway, which sounds like a stripped down version of SOAD, really. And that’s OK, especially for the fans yearning for a new effort by the band. Perhaps the closest thing to another SOAD album was Serj’s Elect the Dead. While Daron’s album had his own guitar playing, thus making it sound instrumentally like SOAD, Serj is the primary voice, so Elect the Dead has the upper hand in that regard.

But the most impressive solo project I’ve heard so far comes in the form of a classical effort from Serj called Orca, a wonderful piece in four acts. I can’t say enough about how different it is, so all I will say is … give it a try.


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