THEPRP REVIEWS

Serj Tankian Elasticity

2021 Alchemy Recordings

Stepping back inside the system.

Serj Tankian - Elasticity

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As the most musically prolific member of System Of A Down, Serj Tankian has made a habit of challenging himself in the near 16 years since that band’s last full-length release. Be it his solo forays, working with an orchestra, launching a ‘jazz’ side project or scoring numerous films, his body of work has long outgrown any creative confines he was initially saddled with.

System Of A Down fans are an obsessive lot though and there seemingly aren’t many who favor Tankian‘s generally more grandiose solo output over that of the System discography. In a way, that’s why “Elasticity” almost feels like Tankian extending an olive branch to those who have felt left behind.

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Several of the tracks on this EP were originally written by Tankian with System in mind; penned for what ultimately became the band’s failed attempt at writing a sixth studio album a few years back.

With those sessions derailed by creative and financial disputes, Tankian went on to flesh out the songs under his own banner, now releasing them under a collective title that plays off of that of System‘s landmark 3x multi-platinum sophomore album, “Toxicity“.

Given the circumstances, “Elasticity” offers a revealing peek under the hood as to what exactly Tankian brings to the table for SOAD.

Of the five tracks, “Your Mom” stands out as the bounciest highlight. Boasting politically charged lyrics that rally against radicals and extremists, the fiery cut eventually swerves into an absurdist bent that suggests your proverbial mother being deployed to ‘wipe them out.’

On the less whimsical side is “Electric Yerevan“, which tackles the sociopolitical struggles of Armenia and the protests of the same name that happened back in 2015. Tankian‘s personal passion for the subject matter shines through, going so far as to adopt the persona of an on the scene reporter amid police crackdowns for a section of the track.

The title track takes the crown for being the most outright quirky, melding synth-aided riffs to manic outbursts and softer melodies. Then there’s “Rumi“, an unabashed piano-led ballad partly written about Tankian‘s son of the same name. “How Many Times?” follows a similar melancholic path and your mileage with both may vary.

While Daron Malakian is often seen as the primary songwriter for System Of A Down, these tracks suggest Tankian may be a bigger piece of the puzzle than previously thought. Though they are decidedly lacking in the frenzied riffs and forceful percussion you’d expect from System, the familiar songwriting is there.

System Of A Down temporarily ended their fifteen year dry spell late last year with the release of two ‘new’ singles (both arrived to raise funds and awareness for victims of the 2020 Nagorno-Karabakh war,) and that is one hell of a way to lead in to this EP.

True “Elasticity” may lack the infectious energy and neurotic zeal of a full-on SOAD experience, but it certainly doesn’t fall very short. In fact, older fans of the band may even find themselves enamored by these songs a bit more than they’d expect, given that they sound like System before Malakian took on a more prominent vocal role.

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