Back in the fall of 2006, Daron Malakian, lead guitarist of System Of A Down spat his dummy out and essentially said, “Screw you guys! I wanna go make my own band! Something completely different from SOAD!”. So, off he went, and he took drummer Jon Dolmayan along with him to form Scars On Broadway; a band that sounds near identical to SOAD. But, before he could even get his line-up sorted, frontman Serj Tankian called his bluff and raised him by making his own solo album and jetting off on a world tour.
Since then, Serj has made five full-length albums and embarked upon many musical endeavours, including a spat of globe-trotting with the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra and with many others too. Needless to say he has been a very busy man, and I personally think it’s gone to his head a bit. SOAD now want to get back together and make a new album, but allegedly Serj just doesn’t want to know, claiming that he “can’t write a forced record and it’s something that I can’t do right now”. That’s fair enough, you can’t force the creative process, but I think it’d be best if he hopped on down from his pedestal sooner rather than later.
His latest offering is ‘Jazz-iz Christ’, a full length jazz album full of piano tinkles and pretentious wankery. Musically speaking, ‘Jazz-iz Christ’ is excellent with the widest range of instruments, all played to peak perfection and a fine example of some damn fine jazz. Having said that, it’s only jazz and it’s nothing that hasn’t been done before. It’s a good album but also a repetitive one, and after five tracks the album all blends together as one familiar noise. There are some definite SOAD influences on here though, especially on ‘Jinn’, and the familiar SOAD themes shine through when Serj finally sings a song or two.
‘Jazz-iz Christ’ shows just how bloody versatile the Armenian-American singer-songwriter truly is. But, having released 4-track classical album ‘Orca’ this past June, I see ‘Jazz-iz Christ’ as just another flex of Serj‘s musical muscle. Whilst it’s good that he’s exploring all these musical avenues, I can’t help but feel that a full-length album dedicated to each genre is a tad unnecessary and more of an up-yours to the SOAD members and an indulgence of his ego.
This is an album for either jazz fanatics or die-hard SOAD fans, though I must warn you, as a huge SOAD fan I wasn’t exactly bowled over by it. ‘Jazz-iz Christ’ is an album of glorified lift music at best where the only tracks worth listening to are ‘Jinn’ and ‘Miso Soup’, and even those aren’t great. We all know that you’re talented Serj, but perhaps give it a rest for a while? You’re spreading yourself too thin.
Written by Andy Roberts