Whether working with the metallers System of a Down or on his previous two solo albums, the Armenian-American artist Serj Tankian has always created musical collages.
Guttural screams sit beside soulful croons, while jagged guitars try to keep up with restless time changes. The singer's thoughts were also a muddle of whimsy and venomous political outbursts.
It's no surprise that many found Tankian's compulsion for juxtaposition difficult to swallow, but others thought fierce originality made up for his occasional journeys into the unlistenable.
The artist's latest album, Harakiri, is more varied than anything he has created before, merging metal with jazz, world music and even electronica. Its opener, Cornucopia, is perhaps the poppiest thing Tankian has ever attempted, while the title track calls to mind Faith No More at their most operatic.
The artist hasn't forgotten his noisy roots either, as evidenced on Figure it Out. It's when he tries to take a radically different approach that the results are less successful. Opening up with an electronic beat, Occupied Tears sees Tankian touching-on the plight of the Palestinians. But neither the mid-tempo track, nor the ripe lyrics do the subject matter justice.
While Harakiri shows Tankian's versatility, too many of its ideas feel like works in progress.