It’s been over ten years since the last Scars on Broadway album and with no System of a Down music on the horizon it falls to the ‘side-project’ to give fans what they want even if it is effectively diet-System. A line-up and name change is the least of the problems with Dictator.
Fans of the band’s original work will find plenty to enjoy here as Daron Malakian and Scars on Broadway hit plenty of the right notes for nostalgia value. Instantly though it’s not easy to shake off the thought that certain tracks already sound quite dated. Perhaps this relates to the fact that this album was recorded six years ago.
Lives has such little oomph and the repetitive chorus is really lacking. Angry Guru shows off a bit more imagination, the kind that you’d expect from such an eclectic artist. While the title track’s infusion of crunching riffs and shouted chorus is a highlight.
Lyrically, Dictator is a thought-provoking record as Malakian covers a broad range of topics that include his own personal history, Armenian pride and the wider political landscape. This can certainly make you appreciate the album a bit more but can’t paper over the cracks.
It’s impossible to talk about this album without bringing up System of a Down as Malakian is such an integral part of that band and Scars on Broadway share so much in common with them. Aside from the unmistakable vocals the likes of Fuck and Kill and We Won’t Obey sound like a band trying to be System of a Down-lite but without the soul. Simply put, not having Serj Tankian’s dulcet tones to play off Malakian shines a light on some of the flaws. He can be downright irritating and dominates much of the music in the mix.
A twelve track album with at least half proving to be utterly forgettable. Guns Are Loaded, Never Forget and Sickening Wars just leave you with a ‘meh’ feeling.
Don’t let that lead you to believe Dictator is a bad album though. It’s not. The likes of Talkin’ Shit with its complex and guitar heavy rhythm really stands out and the instrumental cover of Stamatis Kokotas’ Gie Mou is effective and sweet.
Daron Malakian and Scars on Broadway – Dictator Full Track Listing:
2. Angry Guru
4. Fuck and Kill
5. Guns Are Loaded
6. Never Forget
7. Talkin’ Shit
8. Till the End
9. We Won’t Obey
10. Sickening Wars
11. Gie Mou (My Son) (Stamatis Kokotas Cover)
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Check it out yourself via Apple Music below and Amazon above.
Daron Malakian and Scars on Broadway - Dictator (Scarred for Life)
The Final Score - 6/10