Serj Tankian
Elect the Dead



by Lunarfall USER (16 Reviews)
October 16th, 2007 | 202 replies

Release Date: 2007 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Serj gives his solo career a nice start with “Elect The Dead.” Fans of Serj and his voice will love this.

Insane. Crazy. A world class mad man. These are just some adjectives that can describe people such as Mike Patton (Faith No More, Fantomas), Buckethead, and don’t forget Varg Vikernes (Burzum). With the stream of this album, I would like to add Serj Tenkian to the list of the oddball musicians. Serj’s work with System of a Down did his crazed thinking no justice. He can finally be free to be do whatever he wants with his debut solo album, Elect the Dead.

Serj did play most of the instruments, but some other guest musicians worked with Serj in the studio. Those people are:
Larry “Ler” LaLonde (of Primus) - Guitar
Dan Monti - Guitar and Bass
John Dolmayan (of System of a Down) - Drums
Brian “Brain” Mantia (of Primus) - Drums
Ani Maldjian - Background Vocals
Antonio Pontarelli - Violin

The instrumentation on Elect the Dead is disappointing overall. Most of the guitar riffing is simple; don’t expect those crazy riffs that Daron would pull off in System of a Down. In “Sky is Over”, the riffing is extremely simple throughout the song and could be played by even the least-knowledgeable guitarist. The bass is non-existent. Even the riffs are recycled. The slow piano part in “The Unthinking Majority” is almost the exact same melody from the intro of “Honking Antelope”. On top of that, the lyrics are questionable from a critic’s point of view. Anti-political lyrics are typically looked down upon now a-days, and this album is no exception when it comes to that kind of lyrics.

There is a surprising difference between System of a Down and Serj’s solo project. Lots of the really heavy songs from the System days are long gone; most songs are just straight-forward rock. Only “Money”, “Beethoven’s C***”, and “The Unthinking Majority” seem to have that metal aggression that used to occupy the majority of System of a Down songs. Songs such as the well known single “Empty Walls” feature piano-ridden mainstream rock structures. The overall presentation and song writing technique of the album seems, for lack of a better word, mainstream.

So why does this album deserve a four after all that nonsense? These songs are damn catchy. Every single song on here, except for “Sky Is Over”, is a song you could easy like and listen to over and over and over again. Something about Serj’s voice just grabs you by the arm and pulls you in. His voice is pleasant yet aggressive; joyous but emotional, and the best part about it: uniqueness. Without Daron whining about, Serj sings the whole time, which allows him to do the weird things he likes to do with his voice, like using strange harmonizations behind the main vocal part.

The tracks of this album are similar in a way, but completely all over the place, due to rapid tempo changes and moods. “Money” is the heaviest song on the album, featuring extremely heavy riffing (even when compared to System of a Down) and Serj shouting at the top of his lungs “MONEY!” during the chorus. The piano in this song has some sort of echo effect applied to it, which gives a sense of a free, yet unstable, atmosphere. “The Unthinking Majority” features a intentional sloppy, dirty opening on the guitar, which turns into the main riff of the song. “Praise the Lord...” is entirely different from the rest of the album, which is vocally, the closest to System of a Down this album will stray. The song instrumentally is highly experiential, almost reminiscent of Fantomas.

Finally for the slow stuff. Most songs feature a slow section, which consists of piano and either acoustic or electric guitar passages. “Elect the Dead” is entirely guitar, soft vocals and piano (and a bass effect at the beginning), which makes a great album ending, while Serj chants “All I want is me” throughout the song. The intro of “Baby” features an Opeth-like haunting acoustic intro, and breaks down into a slower rock riff after. “Lie Lie Lie” has the most interesting piano passage in the album, which has a classical-style feel to it.

[+]Extremely catchy
[+]There is classical influence in the songs; a rarity among rock albums
[+]It’s Serj

[-]Some riffs seem recycled
[-]Little technicality
[-]It probably will be dismissed as average mainstream rock by some
[-]"Sky is Over"

If you’ve been begging for some new Serj material for a while, don’t pass this chance up; this album is a must have for you. However, fans of System of a Down may not be pleased that this doesn’t sound like System of a Down. The only people who shouldn’t get this are people who hate non-technical albums (or hate Serj for some reason).

Recommended Songs: Money, Empty Walls, Praise the Lord and Pass the Ammunition

Stream The Entire Album Here:

Rating: 3.8/5

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user ratings (996)
other reviews of this album
1 of
  • vanderb0b (3.5)

    thesystemisdown (4)
    A fantastic debut, but not as much as we could have gotten from such a phenomenal artist a...

    Altmer (2.5)
    This album sounds like the B-side collection of a B-sides System album. It's still not bad...

    bastard (2)
    One step back for Serj's muisc, One giant leap upwards for Serj's cash flow....

  • mvlamborghini (4.5)
    Definitely one of the best solo albums recorded by a high profile lead vocalist from a ver...

Comments:Add a Comment 
October 17th 2007


Problem fixed... voted...

As for the album, regardless of your rating you have pretty much convinced me that I won't like it....This Message Edited On 10.16.07

October 17th 2007


Album Rating: 3.0

It is. Now I just have to get this CD and the C&C album on the 23rd and I'm set for the rest of the month. :D

Willie: Yeah, I'm sure lots of people won't like this. In fact, I suggest you shouldn't listen to it if you hate Serj's voice in general. And I'll fix that sentence error.This Message Edited On 10.16.07

October 17th 2007


Sweet review. But it is a little early for a review already, don't you think? I need to let this sink in a little.

October 17th 2007


Album Rating: 3.0

I'm sure I'll be keeping the rating for a while, I rarely change my views on albums within the first 3-4 months.

October 17th 2007


Yeah, I'm sure lots of people won't like this. In fact, I suggest you shouldn't listen to it if you hate Serj's voice in general.
I don't hate Serj's voice, it's good within a metal context... I just don't like alot of mainstream rock music or music that seems simple and uninteresting... and I think that combined with his voice will definitely be enough for me to not like it... I'll still check out the stream since it's free and I'm at work with nothing better to do though ;)

October 17th 2007


Album Rating: 3.0

If you don't want a mainstream-structured song, listen to Praise the Lord and Pass the Ammunition. You may like that one, but it's really different from the rest of the album.

October 17th 2007


i know you probably wanted to post this first but you should probably listen to an album more than once before you review it.

October 17th 2007


Album Rating: 3.0

I'm at my 3rd time through the album right now, going on 4th soon. I'm still content with my rating.

October 17th 2007


I heard a song on Sirius and I thought System of a Down was making a new album. Nothing original at all.

Serj is just another political bandwagon jumper. I know System always had political type lyrics, but it was done in a tasteful manner. Not the lame statistic rambling media garbage that System became

October 17th 2007


I'll admit that I only made it through the first eight tracks (which is why I won't rate it), but it's bad...the music is boring and seems like metal/rock by numbers (with piano thrown in)... due to the unassuming nature of the guitars, Serj's voice is the main focus, and it gets annoying.... and the lyrics are horrible preaching where he's basically telling you what you should believe if you're not stupid....
This Message Edited On 10.16.07

October 17th 2007


Album Rating: 3.5

Im looking forward to having a listen...

October 17th 2007


Serj is just another political bandwagon jumper. I know System always had political type lyrics,

Somebody back me up on this. Wouldn't the second statement cancel out the first?

I'm getting kind of exasperated with the fact that no artist can say anything even vaguely political without a bunch of people dismissing as bandwagon jumpers. There's a bandwagon to whine about a bandwagon. That is fucked up.

October 17th 2007


I heard "Empty Walls" a few days ago and I just found that it sounded exactly like his work with System of a Down.

October 17th 2007


I like it.

October 17th 2007


Album Rating: 3.0

Don't know if I'll be checking this out but good review nonetheless.

October 17th 2007


Album Rating: 2.5

just listened to the stream, i like it a lot. Serj has always been one of my favorite artists. the album might not have been as experimental as i had hoped, but it is still enjoyable to not hear Daron's annoying voice. Serj sounds much better without him. his family might have known my mom's family because they were both from Beirut, Lebanon

October 17th 2007


Album Rating: 3.0

The stream wouldnt fucking work foor me =( I have to wait to hear it all now.

Nice review though.

October 17th 2007


It wouldn't work for me either!

The 3 songs I've heard sound good though.

October 17th 2007


Album Rating: 2.0

It wont let me rate it, anyone else having this problem?

October 17th 2007


Album Rating: 2.5

you can't rate it until it has been officially released

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