Most people dismiss the musicality in heavy metal music, either that or they just don’t care; it’s a bunch of noise. Musicians in the heavy metal world listen to and are influenced by a wide variety of music. Nothing frustrates me more than when someone tells me that their musical tastes are eclectic, because 99% of the time what they mean is that they like pop music and by pop music I mean popular country, popular rock, popular dance, popular hip hop, the kind of music that you can find all on one station. Not one of those people can tell me who Robert Fripp or John Coltrane or even Miles Davis is…and these are the household names of their genres. You know what they do like? System of a Down and most likely the ‘party song’ as so many of them call it or “B.Y.O.B.”
Serj Tankian has been doing the lord’s work since System of a Down. The man hasn’t been trying to recapture the success of System of a Down; he’s been using that success to show the fans that will listen where those weird time signatures come from. This summer he’s releasing an album called “Jazz-Iz-Christ” which is also the name of the band.
“Jazz-Iz-Christ” is mostly instrumental, it’s Serj’s brainchild, but there are several musicians involved. Where System of a Down heavy music that was influenced by progressive rock, fusion and jazz, “Jazz-Iz-Christ” is Jazz music influenced by rock…if that makes sense. At times the music on “Jazz-Iz-Christ” is very heavy at other times it’s very mellow, at all times it’s challenging yet pleasing to my ear (at least). I love “Jazz-iz-Christ” and I hope to Jazz-iz-Christ that this music reaches some kid at home learning his instrument and turns him on to the world of Jazz.
Like Serj, Godsmack frontman Sully Erna released a solo album called “Avalon” which was mainly world music. It’s refreshing to hear musicians who could have been cornered by their heavy metal sound branch out and do something outside of the box for them. Not every System of a Down fan is going to hear this, but the ones that do will be rewarded.
BYLINE: Bob Zerull is the Managing Editor of Zoiks! Online. He writes pop culture commentary, does interviews with bands, and reviews music and stand-up concerts. He also administers Zoiks! Online's Facebook page. Follow Bob on twitter at bzerull. Email Bob at firstname.lastname@example.org.