On “Harakiri,” his third studio solo album, System of a Down’s Serj Tankian is poet, jester, agitator, and seeker all balled into one frenetic rock ’n' roll singer. “Harakiri” is an 11-song lament, with Tankian bemoaning environmental degradation, political hypocrisy, and social decay. Tankian brings inventive twists to his songs: the abstract wordplay of “Cornucopia,” the spastic diatribes of “Figure It Out.” The material ranges from brooding to comical to just plain punk. Tankian’s solo albums are not too far afield from what he does with SOAD but do give him an opportunity to move away from that band’s overarching heaviness. The breathing room highlights the detail of Tankian’s lyrics, equally engaging as the blunt criticisms in “Uneducated Democracy” or nuanced allegory of the title track’s tale of animals committing ritualistic suicide. There’s never a ponderous or self-righteous feel to Tankian’s tunes. Likewise he infuses enough hope into his work to inspire a decent fight. (Out Tuesday)
System of a Down performs Aug. 9 at the Comcast Center.