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One of the most unconventional frontmen in rock, Serj Tankian, the voice of System Of A Down, emerges as a solo artist with his debut album Elect The Dead. System Of A Down, whose five genre-bending studio albums have sold over 16 million copies, went on an extended hiatus in August 2006. Since then, Tankian had been holed up in his home studio in Los Angeles writing, recording, and producing Elect The Dead - an album that showcases the writing and arranging prowess of a man best known for his inimitable vocals, incisive lyrics, and unwavering dedication to humanitarian causes.

“Making Elect The Dead, I felt the exact same energy as I did recording System’s debut in 1998, that sense of open experimentation, the idea that ‘Wow, I’m actually doing this…’ I was living, eating, and shitting this music every day. I’d wake up in the morning and the thought of working on a song was so powerful I couldn’t focus on anything else.”

Neither a mellow excursion into world music or the frantic war-cry of System that some had predicted, Elect The Dead is multi-faceted and multi-layered. It contains elements of psychedelia, classical, and the trademark surrealist images and skewed time signatures that Tankian has made his own. It is both thought-provoking and from the heart.

“It’s definitely a rock record,” Tankian says enthusiastically. “It’s a moving album with a lot of ups and downs, starts and stops, and tempo changes. It’s depressing but it’s uplifting; it’s jazzy but it rocks.”

iI 1995 he co-founded System Of A Down with three friends from the Armenian-American community. Over the next ten years, System rose to become one of the most inventive hard rock bands of their generation — a band with a conscience, a message, and a desire to constantly evolve. Tankian’s contributions included not only the confrontational and often cryptic lyrics, but also a unique singing voice heavily inspired by growing up listening to his father sing traditional Armenian music. Tankian sings in a cadence like no other: An abrasive, paint-stripping, pulpit-bashing roar one moment, a maudlin lament the next.

It should, by now, be pretty obvious that Serj Tankian is not your typical frontman.

Which brings us back to Elect The Dead. Forget the endless parade of collaborators, guests, remixers, or producers, the album is entirely Serj, though SOAD’s John Dolmayan and Brian ‘Brain’ Mantia (Primus, Tom Waits, Guns N Roses) do lend their drumming skills to the project, and guitarist/bassist Dan Monti and opera soprano Ani Maldjian make an appearance as well.

“With Elect The Dead, the sky’s the limit. There are no barriers between myself and the listeners on this album. It’s more direct,” says Tankian. “It’s liberating because all the choices are mine. With this record all success or failure rests with me. It made me realize that I have an amazing life and I am getting to make a lot of my dreams come true.”