"some music was meant to stay underground..."

Scars On Broadway - "Scars on Broadway" (CD)

Scars On Broadway - "Scars on Broadway" CD cover image

"Scars on Broadway" track listing:

1. Serious
2. Funny
3. Exploding/Reloading
4. Stoner Hate
5. Insane
6. World Long Gone
7. Kill Each Other/Live Forever
8. Babylon
9. Chemicals
10. Enemy
11. Universe
12. 3005
13. Cute Machines
14. Whoring Streets
15. They Say

Reviewed by on August 16, 2008

"It's an impossible task to listen to the album without comparing it to System of a Down's 'Hypnotize.'"

Since Scars On Broadway features two out of four members of System Of A Down - vocalist/guitarist Daron Malakian and drummer John Dolmayan - their debut album was inevitably going to be compared mercilessly to their previous outfit. However Scars On Broadway presents the listener with a serious problem with its music, namely that it's impossible not to compare them to System Of A Down.

The album contains fifteen tracks and clocks in at forty five minutes long. However, the album seems to drag on somewhat, which is a little strange considering the length of both the songs and the album itself. A complaint I've heard from some people is that the songs don't seem to go anywhere and all seem like they're building up to a climax which never comes. This complaint can certainly be registered to several songs, but it would definitely be unfair to designate the whole album as a collection of intros.

The music itself isn't bad at all but after hearing the previous two System Of A Down albums, this material doesn't seem original enough to base a new band on. It's an impossible task to listen to the album without comparing it to System of a Down's "Hypnotize." Many of the songs contain the exact same feel to them as "Hypnotize" did and some even sound very similar to particular songs from the album such as "Holy Mountains."

To be fair, some of the songs are incredibly catchy and wouldn't have worked on a System Of A Down album but the problem is that the songs with that quality are incredibly limited on the album and the chances are you'll only remember about three or four of the songs after the album's finished. Some of the songs such as "Cute Machines" even seem completely pointless and whilst they're not necessarily bad tracks, the album certainly wouldn't miss them and perhaps even benefit from them not being included.

Something about the album I couldn't help but notice was the lyrics. Of course, anyone familiar with the members' back-catalog should expect the unconventional in terms of words, but Scars On Broadway actually seems to be just random lyrics as opposed to System Of A Down, which was only perceived as random lyrics at first. For example the song "Chemicals" contains the chorus line of "I piss on your face while you suck on my cock," which personally, I really struggle to find a meaning behind (not to mention the mentioned task seems that it would be impossible to accomplish). Plus, if you read the lyrics before you listen to the album, it gives you too much of an idea of what the song will sound like and spoils the album a bit when it is listened to.

Overall, Scars On Broadway's self-titled debut is nothing to get excited over. It creates a problem for itself because it sounds a little too much like System Of A Down to attract new fans but not enough like them to please their entire fanbase. A lot of people complained about Daron Malakian's vocals on the past two System Of A Down outputs but felt comforted by Serj Tankian's voice backing him up. However, without Tankian's voice the album seems a little empty and will definitely not please the critics of the "Mezmerize/Hypnotize" era.

Highs: Some good, catchy chouruses and brooding melodies

Lows: Contains little originality and a few too many silly lyrics

Bottom line: If you're a die-hard System Of A Down fan, you'll enjoy the album, but otherwise the likelihood of thoroughly liking the album is small.

Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls
2.5 out of 5 skulls


Key
Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)