Review – Scars on Broadway

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By James Linacre on 29.11.2023

Review – Scars on Broadway

Scars on Broadway’s self-titled debut album sounds instantly familiar. Perhaps it’s the heavy rotation of lead single ‘They Say’ being pumped out by the music television stations. Perhaps it’s that two of the members – Daron Malakian and John Dolmayan – were previously involved in rock heavyweights System of a Down. Perhaps it’s that Scars on Broadway does nothing to reinvent the genre, and relies on short, catchy riffs and a fast tempo at the expense of musical substance, in the manner of that all too familiar rock-pop mainstream which System of a Down were so praised for transcending.

The first fear any System of a Down fan might have when approaching this new band is, now that Malakian is performing vocals on his own, will his voice be strong enough to listen to for an entire album? In his previous band he was a guitarist first, and backing vocalist second. These fears can be allayed somewhat. Although his voice lacks the range or raw power of Serj Tankian, Daron Malakian’s vocals hold up well enough throughout this brief album.

When Serj Tankian left System of a Down to pursue a solo career, he broached new territory. Although his level of success is debatable, he has drawn plaudits for the scope of his vision and ambition. That is certainly not something that can be said for Scars on Broadway, who largely pick up where System left off. Politics remain a topic, though covered with far more brevity and less depth than System used to achieve. Bereft of Serj, his former band mates seem short on ideas, and on several occasions you are left with the impression that a lot of the songs are unwanted castoffs from their former band’s glory days.

What this new band is certainly not short on, though, is energy. The album maintains a high tempo almost throughout (aided largely by the fact the album is so short, coming in at just 45 minutes), epitomised by tracks such as ‘Serious’, ‘Stoner-Hate’, the aforementioned ‘They Say’, or the suitably explosive ‘Exploding/Reloading’. These faster tracks are certainly the highlights of the album, with more introspective songs such as ‘Enemy’ and ‘Universe’ leaving the listener disappointed by their shallow content and failure to get to grips with the issues which they attempt to address.

Ultimately the album plays well at a casual listen, thanks to some catchy lyrics and simple guitar riffs. It is a fast-paced whirlwind of an album which will appeal to most metal and hard-rock fans, especially those who used to listen to System of a Down, but it is unlikely to ever live long in the memory. Although a few tracks stand out (especially ‘Exploding/Reloading’ and ‘They Say’), too many songs serve simply as filler, and the highlights prove to be just that; infrequent moments of quality sandwiched between the hum-drum and the mediocre.


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