Unbridled by compromise the fury of every song hits like a hammer to the head.
After the collapse of SYSTEM OF A DOOM guitarist Daron Malakian attempted to keep the magic going by forming SCARS ON BROADWAY with fellow ex-SOAD members. And after one eponymous album they also fell apart. Malakian has now released the solo-fied SCARS album ‘Dictator‘. It’s stellar Alternative and easily one of the year’s best.
Recorded and shelved since 2012 (in hopes of turning it into a band effort) this album is decidedly unpolished. Made in only ten days it has that late 80s/early 90s Grunge demo vibe. Raw and immediate with limited Avante-garde leanings, something that often bogged down later period SOAD.
Clearly Malakian has issues with his various on/off bands’ members and their inability to come together. Even the name change to DARON MALAKIAN AND SCARS OF BROADWAY is a striking indication that he may no longer need/want them. Daron handles every freakin’ thing here himself: all the vocals, the instruments, and production.
The potency of these infectious hooks, the deep dive choruses, and all the unbridled energy is testament to his talent. If SYSTEM OF A DOWN were to reform they’d only wish they could produce anything with this much passion.
The 10 tracks (+2 covers) swim between Grunge, Alt Metal, Punk, and quasi Pop. The opening charge “Lives” hearkens classic SOAD. While bitter anthems “Dictator” and “We Won’t Obey” present more straight ahead Metal. “Guns Are Loaded” and “Till the End” reflect an Alternative mindfulness. And the quirky “Angry Guru” and “Sickening Wars” embody all things Punk. Malakian’s Armenian-spiced guitars permeate every pore along with an attitude appropriate vocal snarl.
Have to wonder how a little polish (and, perhaps, a bandmate or two) might have elevated ‘Dictator‘ to loftier heights. But, lightening doesn’t strike twice in a bottle and this album stands a strong, emotional time-capsule that Malakian can be proud of.