Dictator – Scars on Broadway | Exotic Riot Fuel | Album Review

I’m getting this out of the way now, reader. It’s an opinion that I must share with you and it may upset to hear this, but it has to be said before my lungs explode, come closer.

A little closer.

OK, ready?

Here we go:


For years there have been talks, rumours and posts from band members, about the possibility of a new SOAD album, yes we have had live comebacks and a few tours here and there, however, since 2005’s ‘Hypnotise’ the hype train for possible new material derailed years ago, yet fans still jump on it and then get p***y that there is not a buffet cart.

Yes, my heart bleeds a little, ‘Mesmerize‘ and ‘Hypnotise‘ were the thinking man’s ‘American Idiot’ – two albums that questioned the status quo of modern day politics, the absurdity of war and presumably many music fans asking themselves what the f**k was in a Banana Terracotta Pie. Sadly, it’s been almost 15 years and we just have to accept that the main pieces of the SOAD, Serj Tankian and Daron Malakian have for whatever reason took their balls and went home.

Still, think about it this way, any album they could do from here on out is never going to surpass the unholy expectations of keyboard cretins, maybe it was best for them to go their separate ways. Serj to go ahead with his solo career that changes musical directions more I have golden drummer sandwiches (an unholy amount of them I can assure you) and for Darron to carry on with Scars On Broadway.

Their début way back in 2009 was a surprise hit, it had all the hallmarks that a traditional SOAD album had, furious lyrics, tempered guitars and bizarre lyrics, but you felt that Daron Malakian was expressing a lot more of his creative freedom, that he may not have been able to do with SOAD. It seemed the future was bright for arguably one of the more intriguing musicians of the early 21st century.

Then they disappeared and no one knew why.

It seemed like Scars on Broadway was only meant to be a one off deal, Malakian disappeared from the spotlight and no could tell you where he was, people just assumed he wanted to let go of the trappings of fame and admiration. Then like one of Randy Orton’s RKO’s – a new song, album and release date for ‘Dictator‘ came out of nowhere.

There was not enough underpants in the world that could contain my excitement.

The album kicks off with the exotic sounding ‘Lives’ a spirited song that shows off Malakian’s Armenian roots like beautiful peacock feathers, before the album then kicks you in the proverbial genitals with ‘Angry Guru’ a blatant and unrelenting ‘f**k you’ to American mainstream news.

It’s a joy to hear Malakian again, in 9 years away from the spotlight, you wouldn’t be wrong to assume any musician who spent that amount time away would be a little rusty, not Malakian. He has spent those nine years improving, becoming more visceral and tenacious in his guitar work and more thought provoking in his lyrics. There’s less quirky, bizarre songs in this body work, but it’s easily forgiven.

The overall musical arrangement is exotic, it’s hard to put it in a solid context, punk is certainly the its main genre, but Scars on Broadway are not afraid to deviate into pop, electronic and folk genres that makes ‘Dictator’ more robust. As for describing the lyrics, I’ll put it this way, whatever your political affiliation, Malakian wants you to know, he hates you, he hates what you have done to the world and he is pointing the finger at all of us.

This album is for the undecided, the people who have no political affiliation, but are sick to death with what is going in the world. From Brexit to Donald Trump and all the political upheavals in-between, this album is exotic riot fuel, the spirit of punk and whats more, pure audio ecstasy! 

It is for that reason, I am going to do something I never thought I would do for In Key Magazine. I’m giving ‘Dictator’ the full 5 stars, top marks, head of the class (Excuse me, I’m just going to go and check out of the window in case I’ve missed some sort of apocalyptic occurrence – Very Shocked Editor). For someone who has been away for almost a decade it is a staggering master stroke of an album, that I am willing to bet will be a cult classic in years to come. I can only hope he doesn’t take so long with the next album. 

Mourn for System of a Down’s loss and praise Scars on Broadway’s gain, Daron Malakian is as mad as hell and he’s not going to take it any more.      

About Nick Meekham 34 Articles
A shambles of a metal critic. I enjoy long walks on the beach, cheese and crying the shoulders of strippers on the weekend. Not necessarily in that order.

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