Long known for his exploration of all things eclectic and sonically adventurous, Serj Tankian is a familiar voice weaving through the history of modern heavy music. Best known for his role as vocalist and front-man of the legendary System Of A Down, Tankian has numerous accomplishments to his name in the world of music and beyond. After a number of years away from the production of solo work, the artist has released the five-track EP “Elasticity.”
“Elasticity” is Tankian’s first solo release since 2013’s “Orca,” though the experienced artist has filled the interim with a number of film soundtrack albums and the pursuit of painting. The EP follows shortly after the surprise release from System Of A Down, the dual singles “Protect The Land” and “Genocidal Humanoidz,” and serves well to satisfy the hunger SOAD fans have been craving since 2005. In the arc of accomplishments from the unyielding System Of A Down to his subsequent solo work, “Elasticity” fits comfortably in the experienced songwriter’s extensive catalogue of accomplishments, very recognizable in its heaviness but also distinctly a product of Tankian as an individual.
Unlike some solo artists who have sought to divorce themselves stylistically from the project that pulled them into fame, Tankian’s “Elasticity” shows his continued comfort in off-the-wall heaviness after time spent experimenting across other genres. At times, the EP feels much like a System Of A Down album that never made it to the public ear. This intuition is not entirely incorrect: the songs featured on “Elasticity” are indeed long-rejected tracks from Tankian’s earlier project, those which never made it to light after the band parted ways. Even the EP’s title is a play on 2001’s “Toxicity,” one of the many not-so-subtle nods to the band’s legacy found within this bite-sized offering.
The title track is the perfect introduction to the short and explosive release. From the very first notes, the listener is plunged headfirst into vocal discord and electric fury, swinging wildly in both tempo and intensity. More than just a gimmick meant to ensnare, the variety in vocal delivery persists throughout the track as drums pique in cacophonous thunder. A soft lull at the midpoint, complete with dreamlike contemplation, departs with the most volatile chorus of all. Touched with a dexterous hand on the guitar, “Elasticity” bleeds into the subsequent track “Your Mom” effortlessly. The latter also pulls the listener through a dynamic exploration of tempo and tone, coupled with additional instrumental interludes.
Perhaps the most unique and uncharacteristic track on “Elasticity” is also the most poignant. While the political themes and specific moments in much of Tankian’s work are obscured in language, “Rumi” is one of the most lyrically direct and personally touching Tankian has released to date. Both tender and heavy in its execution, “Rumi” is a song from a father to his son, with sincere verses devoted to Tankian’s very own son Rumi. Though Tankian has long written about matters dear to his heart, the sweetness enclosed in this track elevates a sense of the storied songwriter’s own vulnerability in love. Both the tone and subject matter of the track serve as a perfect midpoint for an album which is otherwise overflowing with the typically unexplained curiosities Tankian employs. Using melodic keys as the backbone of its compelling atmosphere, every passage in “Rumi” is rich with both emotion and thoughtful composition.
Familial connections aside, “Elasticity” again embraces heavy-handed political messages, not least of all in fiery track “Electric Yerevan.” Once more Tankian uses music as a vehicle for his activism and carefully crafted awareness, this time speaking to the Electric Yerevan protests in Armenia. The track comes not just alongside a music video documenting the protest and similar events across the world, but is used in the trailer to Tankian’s upcoming documentary exploring the intersection between his art and activism. From biting spoken word to rumbling undertones, there is no doubt that “Electric Yerevan” comes from a place of personal passion and deep-rooted beliefs, brilliantly translated into music.
“Elasticity” both pays homage to Tankian’s legacy and marks a clear present interest. Well-produced and consistent, the EP is a treat to both hungry SOAD fans and adventurous listeners of heavy music. There is certainly the benefit of experience to its creation, and balances more demanding musicianship alongside the varied atmospheric shifts. Both cohesive and comprehensive in its scope, “Elasticity” serves as yet another enjoyable outing from a musician who proves still to be unstoppable.
Release Date: March 19th, 2021
Genre: Heavy Metal
- Serj Tankian / Vocals, guitar, keyboard
- Dan Monti / Guitar, bass
- Your Mom
- Electric Yerevan
- How Many Times?
The ever-adventurous Serj Tankian returns from close to a decade of silence with his new EP "Elasticity," and proves he is still at the top of his game.