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Serj Tankian: Harakiri Album (What he wants you to hear)

Dallas Boyd
Dallas Boyd

Serj Tankian (lead singer of System of a Down) fans will be aware that his new album Harakiri is out. If you have seen the excellent music video for the song of the same name then you will be aware that the video is about more than just mindlessly rocking out.

Hara-Kiri is the Japanese term signifying ritualistic suicide. It is what a samurai might do, or did do, to reclaim his honour or to avoid falling into enemy hands and being tortured. (Do wildlife consider us as "falling into enemy hands?" Probably.) In this case Serj references the mass death of animals around the world. What shitty things are being done to cause such widespread devastation? What does it mean? And what will it take for people to look around and, as Serj says, “Figure It Out!”

The opening text which flashes across the music video states that “The human race will eventually die of civilization.” That means that the way we live will kill us. I don’t think humans are intentionally self-destructive. But if we are inherently good, then we are also inherently lazy, dependent, and unable to assume responsibility. We’re the frog that won’t jump out of rapidly heating water, until we boil and die, blissfully unaware of what went wrong.

Let’s consider Serj’s Harakiri then.

"Beebe, Arkansas, 8300 Drum Fish Dead"

Just 8300 Serj? When I researched this, the article said “State officials on Monday were investigating why 80,000 to 100,000 fish washed up dead…” That’s a lot of dead fish. As 95% of them were Drum Fish, the article supposed that they were killed by something specific only to that specie, like a disease. And that was sort of the end of story. No follow up about what disease and why… I don't know about you, but I'm not likely to think to myself: "oh what a relief, just some random fish disease. No need to worry about that!"

"New Years Eve 2011, 4500 Black Birds"

Now the day after the dead fish were found floating belly up, about 125 miles away thousands of blackbirds fell out of the sky, dead as doornails. That’s a rough 48 hours for wildlife in Arkansas. Just seventeen autopsies were performed from the thousands of carcasses and it was said they died in midair. Their stomachs were empty and they had not been poisoned. Bad weather was blamed and the news article detailed how this possibly could have occurred. Rough luck.

"Northern Peru, 877 Dolphins"

This one is a mystery and experts have been less confident in bantering off an explanation. Some say that the dolphins have shown broken bones in their ears and some internal organ damage, injuries that are linked to seismic underwater tests. Others say dolphins began dying before seismic testing started. Either way they died from what appear to be unnatural causes. Being the dominant influence on the planet, not to mention Masters of the Universe, humans should probably look at what we might have done to cause this one… right?

"Chile, 2300 Sea Birds"

Reportedly many of these birds, all different types of species, were found with broken wings and bruising, which indicates they were caught in fishermen’s nets and killed before being dumped back into the ocean. Awesome. One article referred to the dolphins that had died and suggested that both the birds and dolphins had been killed due to an increase in seawater temperature and therefore their feeding patterns had been disrupted. Riggght. So the fishermen's nets were innocent bystanders?

However you connect the dots, there are a ton of shitty events happening every single day. Despite these things, perhaps in misguided hope, people continue to carry on, getting married, having kids, and generally not wondering how food magically appears in the supermarket or where the rubbish fairy takes our filth. In his description of the Harakiri album, Serj comments that “humanity's tears actually outweigh yearly rainfall on the planet.” I dunno if that’s true but without needing to look it up, I can believe in one thing. As one person, I do not have the ability to improve the quality of life for everyone and everything on the planet. However, if every single person (in the world!) did the best they could to improve the quality of life for the immediate people (and animales) in their close circle and community, then the difference overnight would be unheard of.

Listen to Serj, he's a great rock star.

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