Scars on Broadway
Dictator


1.5
very poor

Review

by Simon STAFF
July 20th, 2018 | 153 replies


Release Date: 07/20/2018 | Tracklist

Review Summary: A painful return.

There’s a lot of tension and balls up in the air with this new System of a Down LP at the minute. Despite the vehement of its fanbase we may never see another record again, which is a shame in all honesty when the evidence points to money. Daron and Serj’s recent barrage of petty squabbled retorts have been batted across the internet like a game of tennis, pointing fingers over writing credits and who’s responsible for coming up empty-handed in the SOAD camp. The real losers are, of course, the fans who continue to wait for new material, but it looks as though Daron is willing to fill the void with a revival and follow-up to Scars on Broadway’s debut album. 10 years on from its inception, just as the SOAD debacle comes to light, Dictator enters the room swiftly, promptly and ready to go. And the thing is, even though the world needs a politically charged SOAD album now more than ever, Daron’s one-time side project was aware of this topic as well. Imagine the creative fuel that could be used here: a decade’s worth of politics, the effects modern internet is having on our lives or capitalism’s consumerist demands which are putting strain on the planet's resources. A System of a Down album might not be on the cards, but a Scars return could well be the next best thing.

I'll admit, it might be the next best thing, but Scars on Broadway is a project I never fully appreciated back in the day. To cut a long story short, the self-titled release was a competently able alt-metal album when viewed from an instrumental standpoint, but for me it sounded like a sedated SOAD record without Serj. It also doesn’t help that Malakian’s vocal style is aimed at a niche market. It’s no revelation Tankian’s exceptional vocal range and diversity made System the household name it is today, but Malakian’s vocals were an eccentric addition to add charismatic flavour – never to be front and centre. Scars on Broadway was a debut that couldn’t hold its weight, suffering from strange melodies and hit-and-miss lyrics that led you to a halfway point of exhaustion and debate on whether to proceed further. But, you know, 10 years is a long time to improve on this aspect and if Daron could improve on it, I think Scars on Broadway could easily blossom into something more fully realised.

Expectations and reality are two different things however, as it appears Daron is devoid of artistic evolution. When I heard Dictator for the first time I noticed “Daron Malakian and Scars on Broadway” slapped on the ugly artwork thinking it was an ironic poke at the LP’s title. The shock was that it was a tasteless joke at my own expense; a daunting realisation this was where the band is now. The narcissistic unveil worn like a badge of honour as Dictator ignorantly spews out antiquated riffs and ideas that sound about as innovative as last time. The record easies you in well enough, “Lives” manages to rein in the exploitative lyrics and wacky vocal hooks for a grounded performance and some nice digestible guitar work – as well as “Talking Sh*t” for having similar characteristics in the vocal department, as well as a flurry of tastefully interspersed solos, and “Dictator” for its frantic speed and pummelling riffs – but the body of tracks line themselves up in the vein of “Angry Guru”, a track that sounds like it was written to be intentionally irritating: godawful lyrics, hideously comical and whinny singing layered over “BYOB” styled riffs. Which, while we’re on the subject of guitar work, “recycled” and “creatively bankrupt” sounds appropriate here. Every song sounds like a recycled riff from previous System of a Down albums – even tapping into Scars' debut album at times. “Talking Sh*t” is one of the few positive numbers here, but it can’t be overlooked, it uses the same chord sequence to Scars on Broadway’s most successful song: “They Say”. The moody ballad of “Guns Are Loaded” and its riffing crescendo sounds like something you’d hear from the Hypnotize/Mezmerize era of Malakian’s career, while a track like “Till the End” beats his tired trait of glittery guitar leads transitioning into sludgy chords to death, making for a painfully bland ride when you’re hearing this thing in full.

I listened to Scars on Broadway in preparation for this one, and my thoughts for it are less favourable now than I remember them being, but let’s put it out there: Scars on Broadway had its high points, this is just a dire offering on almost every level. From the dated production choices to the rudimentary and flaccid songwriting, there’s little to take away from the album. There’s the odd moment where Daron stretches his neck out in search of new ideas, but these moments fall flat on their ass as well. The ghastly windpipe used for “Fu*k and Kill” is a mind-boggling and laughable addition to an otherwise typically derivative offering, while the wincingly terrible 80s-synth that latches onto “Never Forget” stands as another outright awful idea that doesn’t fit the core aesthetic here. Unfortunately, this went from a curiously optimistic listen to an endurance test, ranging from some of the worst heavy music I’ve heard all year to some of the most beige-bland stuff I’ve heard thus far (mainly sitting in former end of the spectrum). If you were looking for some sort of a fix, given SOAD and Scars on Broadway’s lengthy hiatuses, you won’t find any closure here. This is a painful listen, written by an out of touch, eccentric egomaniac.

AWFUL.


FORMAT//EDITIONS: DIGITAL/̶/̶C̶D̶/̶/̶V̶I̶N̶Y̶L̶/̶/̶V̶A̶R̶I̶O̶U̶S̶ ̶B̶U̶N̶D̶L̶E̶S̶

PACKAGING: N/A

SPECIAL EDITION: N/A

ALBUM STREAM//PURCHASE: https://scarsonbroadway.com/



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user ratings (118)
2.4
average

Comments:Add a Comment 
Evrimen
July 20th 2018


149 Comments


That album art is horrendous af

RippingCorpse1986
July 20th 2018


3226 Comments


Couldn't agree more with your first two paragraphs buddy. Very good review.

I think I'm the only person who still listens to the debut from time to time. I was really huge into SOAD when I first heard it in 2011, really dug it a lot, World Long Gone, They Say and Kill Each Other/Live Forever are bangers but yeah the album as a whole feels formulaic, monotonous and painfully derivative and songs like Cute Machines or Chemicals flat-out suck.

This seems horrid, I recall listening to the single ''Lives'', and although decent, it didn't have much replay value/staying power for me. Cover art looks like a poorly crafted GTA SA skin/ped.

Papa Universe
July 20th 2018


22441 Comments


"That album art is horrendous af"
well, quite adequate, I'd say

WatchItExplode
July 20th 2018


7298 Comments


Scars On Broadway is like the musical manifestation of Darron's Ambien tweets.

Digging: Great Grandpa - Four of Arrows

Darius the Great
July 20th 2018


21064 Comments


rating is probably quite accurate.

Good rev gonzodude

RippingCorpse1986
July 20th 2018


3226 Comments


And yeah Daron's vocals aside, the main problem with this band is that their stuff always sounds like Hypnotize-era SOAD b-sides, but well what can you expect from an album originally recorded in 2012?

This album may come with very good intentions, but this SOAD/Scars situation is just sad, really.

Astral Abortis
July 20th 2018


6745 Comments


That art...

SomeGuyDude
July 20th 2018


374 Comments

Album Rating: 1.0

Daron sucks.

TheSpirit
Contributing Reviewer
July 20th 2018


26206 Comments


Good review. I think SOAD stinks and this sounds absolutely horrid.

Digging: Liturgy - H.A.Q.Q.

Evrimen
July 20th 2018


149 Comments


It's sad that we won't get another SOAD release and be left with this abomination.

kalkwiese
July 20th 2018


4301 Comments


Well, if this really is a 1.5 I'm glad these songs didn't become SOAD songs haha

Evrimen
July 20th 2018


149 Comments


I mean the band's sound has nothing to do with SOAD so the standards are really different for each project.

kalkwiese
July 20th 2018


4301 Comments


Daron wanted to save these songs for SOAD though so maybe this is the direction he wanted to go with the band

butcherboy
July 20th 2018


9464 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

this album would have made a great soundtrack to that shite sasha baron cohen movie..

DrGonzo1937
Staff Reviewer
July 20th 2018


15809 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

cheers peeps.



@kalkwiese



maybe Serj could have salvaged some of this mess. I find Daron's voice so one-dimensional, he makes the poor writing that much worse here.

Digging: Desert Sessions - Volumes 11 and 12

DrGonzo1937
Staff Reviewer
July 20th 2018


15809 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

"Daron Malakian and Scars on Broadway" though. I mean, why?!

Gyromania
July 20th 2018


28945 Comments


Yeah, great review. Will avoid like the plague

DrGonzo1937
Staff Reviewer
July 20th 2018


15809 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

thanks brotha

supremejelly
July 20th 2018


1145 Comments


Darron's moustache makes me irrationally angry. That's all I have to say about this album.

Digging: Submotion Orchestra - Finest Hour

DatsNotDaMetulz
July 20th 2018


3925 Comments


Yeah there are definitely parts where I was thinking "This was definitely written for Serj". It sounds like Daron's ego has once again got the better of him though, it was apparently one of the main reasons SOAD stopped in the first place and one of the reasons why the new album is in constant limbo.



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