By Bob Nalbandian

Scars On Broadway

The self-titled debut release from Scars On Broadway certainly proves to me anyway that guitarist/songwriter/vocalist Daron Malakian is the true mastermind behind System of a Down. Match this CD up against Serj Tankian's recent solo record Elect The Dead and this becomes apparent. In the past some have criticized me for being biased toward SOAD (yes, I'm Armenian too) but I honestly believe that the members that make up SOAD are truly exceptional and astoundingly original musicians and songwriters. And to prove that I am unbiased, the first time I saw the video for the band's first single, "They Say," I had absolutely no idea this was Malakian and fellow SOAD drummer John Dolmayan's new band. Yet I was instantly mesmerized by this psychotic Serpico-like singer/guitarist when I first caught this video on FUSE TV. (I had only caught the tale end of the video hence missing the credits). I remember searching on iTunes for this song and even called on friends asking if they knew of this new band fronted by a crazy-looking Serpico look-alike, but to no prevail. And when I later found out this was Malakian's new band I couldn't believe I didn't make the connection. Malakian is undoubtedly a brilliant songwriter as well as multi-talented musician/performer and he has this uncanny ability to write incredibly witty melodies and choruses with such a unique flair, no matter how simplistic or complex the song may be. Take the aforementioned track "They Say," a song built around a simple, bouncy guitar riff that combines a brilliant lyrical hook with Beatle-esque harmonies cleverly accompanied by a resonating Bush-like guitar barrage...such a damn good tune! In contrast you have songs like "Cute Machines" that is based around an offbeat osculating guitar riff with the single vocal line "Cute Machines that I love, Cute Machines, I can't get enough" repeated numerous times throughout the song. It may sound stupid, but it is done so skillfully that you can't help to love it. Included are the usual quirky SOAD-style numbers such as "Chemicals," "Stoner Hate," and even the semi-ballads "Babylon" and "Whoring Streets" have very familiar SOAD characteristics that again reconfirms that Malakian was in fact the dominant force behind that band. Lot's of diversity on this disc as well showing similarities to everything from punk legends Dead Kennedys to stoner icons Queens Of The Stone Age to classic Deep Purple (check out the great Jon Lord-y keyboard melody in "Exploding/Reloading"). As far as I'm concerned, musically, Daron Malakian can do no wrong and he has proven with Scars that he is a musical genius even on his own merit.

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