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Serj Tankian's New Albums Will Be Light on the Rock

By May 6, 2013

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Ever since System of a Down stopped making albums almost a decade ago, fans have hoped they'd return to the studio, having to make do with side projects and solo albums in the meantime. Frontman Serj Tankian has had some commercial success going out on his own, most notably with 2007's Elect the Dead, but he's refused to make his solo discs sound like retreads of System's. He has two new records coming this summer, and they appear to be as far afield from his old band's alt-metal template as anything he's attempted.

The first of the two, Orca, arrives June 25, and a press release describes it as "Tankian's first true symphony." This shouldn't be too big a shock considering that Tankian has dabbled in orchestral music before. (And don't forget his 2010 live album: Elect the Dead Symphony.) "With conductor Werner Steinmetz at the helm," the press release states, "the four acts of Orca mix influences from early 20th century composers with modern film compositional dynamics showing influences ranging from Ennio Morricone to Philip Glass."

If that scares you, then you probably won't be that excited about its follow-up. Entitled Jazz-iz Christ, the album will become available on July 23 and consists of 15 tracks, with 11 of them being instrumentals. The press release touts Jazz-iz Christ as "an amalgam of progressive jazz, electronic, ethnic and even rock elements, displaying a unique presentation of the genre itself."

It's always fun when a famous singer abandons his band to do something out-of-the-box with a solo project. Probably the most noteworthy recent example is when Eddie Vedder took a break from Pearl Jam to do an album of songs played on the ukulele. But Tankian has willfully wandered from genre to genre, not being hemmed in by anyone's expectations. No doubt these new records won't sell as well as System's. But there's also no question that he's staying true to his restless muse.

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Photo courtesy Serjical Strike Records.

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