For most, a stint in rural New Zealand would prove to be a calming experience. But then again, Serj Tankian isn’t exactly one to stand around looking at sheep.

After witnessing his New Zealand neighbor’s property set ablaze by a group of unruly teenagers, Tankian immediately prophesized Harakiri (Japanese for ‘mass suicide’) upon the world. Then decided to make an album about it.

It’s pretty obvious from the first track that Harakiri has a consistent environmental theme running throughout – but the vocal venom doesn’t stop there. Tankian reserves a special dose for those pesky corrupt governments, Snooki from Jersey Shore, and pretty much the entire democratic first world.

Luckily, solid production allows the singer’s familiar vocal cords to sit well on top of the mix, while the standard thick guitar riffs and punchy drums blend nicely with an occasional synth, sitar or distant sounding piano.

One of the more surprising moments of the album is the electro-inspired beat that kicks off “Occupied Tears”. Serj has stated that he had been hitting up his iPad as a songwriting tool, and hearing the track grow from the inorganic confines of a drum machine into a swinging jazz breakdown is probably the record’s highlight.

At its best, Harakiri is an energetic, diverse mix of sounds that will please fans of Serj as an artist and activist. Although nowhere near as intense as his work with System Of A Down, the album does enough to suggest that the vocalist isn’t quite done with his peculiar form of headbanging and hellraising just yet.

– Adam Slater