July 19, 2018 - 14:49 AMT
PanARMENIAN.Net - System of a Down guitarist and vocalist Daron Malakian isn’t going to let a little thing like his band going on an extended hiatus get in the way of releasing new music. With SOAD having gone all quiet on the recording front since 2005’s double whammy of 'Mezmerize' and 'Hypnotize' (they have been touring, though) – a move down to frontman Serj Tankian, Malakian says – Malakian decided to get cracking on a new project, Scars on Broadway, with SOAD drummer John Dolmayan, Theartsdesk.com reports.
Now, in this follow-up to Scars on Broadway’s self-titled 2009 debut album, Malakian has gone it alone – for real. 'Dictator' is a full-on Daron Malakian production – he sings, produces, and plays every instrument (easy there, Prince!) on this record, with songs that have been sitting gathering dust since 2012.
The album’s eventual release coincides with the 103rd anniversary of the Armenian Genocide and first single “Lives”, with its galloping bassline and a chorus guaranteed to earworm its way into the rest of your day, pays homage to Armenian history and culture. Together with its hypnotic accompanying video, featuring traditional folk dancing, its aim is to "inspire pride among – and empower – the survivors of a historical tragedy," according to Malakian, who’s of Armenian descent.
Themes of war and historical horror permeate 'Dictator'’s 12 tracks, especially on second single 'Dictator' – “War is coming/soldiers marching… Your politics will never corrupt me” – and third single “Guns Are Loaded”. With furiously heavy guitar and vocals that spit and stutter with righteous anger, 'Dictator' has a particularly System of a Down sound to it – somewhat unavoidable, given Malakian’s distinctive voice, but you can’t help but wonder if he could have deviated from the template a little more. The rather lovely “Till the End”, however, waltzes along with a gorgeous melody and swooning chorus – perhaps a few more departures like this would have been welcome?
All in all, though, 'Dictator' is an immediate and accessible affair, with irresistible hooks, singalong choruses and a pleasing amount of crunchy heaviness. And it will certainly keep SOAD fans somewhat satisfied until – hopefully – Serj Tankian decides to get the band back in the studio…