As nerdy as it may be, there will no doubt be fans who see Scars On Broadway's debut album as the practical equivalent of a vivisection of System Of A Down's songwriting team. Band frontman Serj Tankian was the first to undergo the forceps with the release of his solo bow, "Elect The Dead", late last year. Now the other half has been prepped for dissection with guitarist/vocalist Daron Malakian and drummer John Dolmayan joining forces in Scars On Broadway.
Obviously Scars On Broadway have come a long way since rumors of their existence first began to crop up in 2003. Back then the band was expected to feature Amen's Casey Chaos and Zach Hill of Team Sleep/Hella fame within its ranks. In 2008 the backing line-up sees a number of sound musicians of little notoriety, sans bassist Dominic Cifarelli, who used to play guitar in Pulse Ultra.
Musically however, Scars On Broadway is an outfit that seems extensively dictated by Malakian's input, AKA the more brash and flashy side of System Of A Down. Expectedly there's a definite love of 70's classic rock and heavy homage paid to the The Beatles throughout this album. But there's also more anger and aggressive irreverence in place too. What this basically amounts to is a streamlined System Of A Down with a tad less ethnic instrumentation/political posturing and more colorful, quirky, metallic rock n' roll.
Interestingly, electronics do become a factor throughout the course of the disc, but their casual implementation works more as a subtle foil than dissonance. This lack of excess is perhaps the most surprising thing about the band. One would expect Malakian's reputation as a hellraiser to see this album erupt with coke-fueled yelps and Mr. Bungle-esque meltdowns. Instead the listener is presented with addictively off-color songs that tackle the right wing, the environment, and of course Charles Manson and hallucinogenics, with lucid focus and absurdly enjoyable choruses. Also of note is the gamut of tempos undertaken as ballads and straight forward riff-driven numbers are all hit their mark rather concisely.
With that said, those who are already not fans of System Of A Down's back catalogue will not be swayed by Scars On Broadway's charms. The diversity of System's back catalogue has also pretty much made it impossible to view Scars On Broadway as anything more than an extension of where the band left off. But that by no means discredits Scars On Broadway, as this album stands toe to toe with the finest of any of its bands members past output, and at times, even bests it.
(4.5 / 5)