by Missak Artinian
It’s been four years since System of a Down announced their indefinite hiatus and fans of the genre-bending, Grammy Award winning rock band are still left in the dark on when the four members will reunite, if ever at all. However, System of a Down’s uncertain future hasn’t stopped frontman Serj Tankian from pursuing his own independent projects.
Tankian released his first solo album in 2007 titled, “Elect the Dead,” for which he wrote all the lyrics and played a majority of the instruments himself. He produced it under his own record label, Serjical Strike. The album garnered both critical and commercial accolades for its poetic lyrics and unique melodies.
In 2009, Tankian collaborated with the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra and reinterpreted every song off his album by stripping down the rock elements and adding new layers of sound by way of orchestral strings, symphonic brass and acoustic instruments. He performed live at the Auckland Town Hall in Auckland, New Zealand on March 16, 2009. A CD/DVD of Tankian’s performance was released early this month.
The live performance, which featured a 70-piece orchestra, sounds more elegant and grandiose than anything Tankian has ever performed. His signature, operatic voice suits the softer melodies accompanied by piano, acoustic guitars, and strings better than the guitar riffs and heavy drums that we’re accustomed to hearing alongside Tankian’s voice.
The standout tracks of the night include the reworked “Empty Walls,” “Beethoven’s C*nt,” “Feed Us,” and two previously unheard songs, “Gate 21” and “The Charade.”
As for new projects, Tankian is currently co-writing a musical with the American playwright Steven Sater based on Prometheus Bound, the Ancient Greek tragedy. He is also working on his second solo album, which is slated for release later this year.
In a recent interview, when asked if there’s any chance System of a Down will ever return, Tankian said, “There’s a chance it might rain today, there’s a chance it might be sunny.” Tankian seems to be doing just fine alone, so here’s hoping the rain lasts a little longer.