If you're already a fan of System of A Down, then there's no reason you shouldn't be able to easily get into Serj Tankian's solo album. Though this solo project features only the lead man from System, it carries just as much of SOAD's spirit, even without Daron Malakian and the others. Seriously, just pop Serj's "Elect the Dead" into your CD player or fire it up on your iPod, and you won't even realize that you're listening to a solo album.
Filling your ears with erratic tempo changes, heavy guitars that chug along, and vocals covering all sorts of political hub-bub, the album really gets you to realize how big an influence Serj is in SOAD. The comparisons to System are no doubt inevitable, and honestly, it's amazing that the man can put out a great solo album that's comparable to previous group efforts.
Not all of the songs on "Elect the Dead" are amazing, though, just because they're SOAD worthy, but then not all SOAD songs are amazing either. It's not that any of the songs are bad, but they are perhaps boring at times even with all of their little experimental quirks. Songs like "Baby" and even the title track are decent and even somewhat catchy, but they don't quite stand out.
Serj undoubtably has one of the most unique voices in today's rock scene. His opretic voice is broad in its range, lending itself well to all of the songs and giving each one life, even the less inspired ones.
Songs that really do stand out are probably the ones that are least in the vein of SOAD. "Praise the Lord and Pass the Ammunition" may in fact be the most intriguing songs on the album. Musically, it's all over the place. There's a good bit of middle-eastern sound mixed in with dark instrumentation and vocals in the verses which lead into a very catchy and jovial-sounding chorus.
"Sky is Over" also utilizes an interesting contrast of elements to make a great song. Piano marries guitar in a jitter-bug dance that all falls apart in a delightful breakdown.
Overall, "Elect the Dead" is an excellent album. It's highly similar to SOAD, yes, but at least it's not miserably different just for the sake of it. Serj delivers all that makes SOAD great here, and even adds in a bit of his own flair with a healthy dose of experimentation.
Serj Tankian has a promising solo career ahead of him if he can keep up the standards set by this album.