New Zealand-based rocker Serj Tankian, best known for fronting System of a Down, has debuted a new song inspired by fighters from his parents' homeland.
The Lebanon-born singer, who now lives north of Auckland, was born to Armenian parents. This background has informed much of his previous material, but perhaps never as directly as on 'Artsakh'.
Premiered on Rolling Stone's website earlier today, 'Artsakh' is a folk song played on acoustic guitar in 3/4 time, and makes use of Tankian's expressive, octave-spanning voice.
It's about a four-day war that took place in Nagorno-Karabakh, Azerbaijan, between Azerbaijani forces and Armenian locals.
"These people have lived on those lands for thousands of years," says Tankian.
"They have struggle but also great beauty written on their foreheads. The whimsical appropriation of land by an empire (Stalin) placed them under Azerbaijan. They have since gained their independence and have lived a prosperous existence for the last 20 or so years.
"I do not believe in wars and ultimately borders, but I deeply believe in self-determination and life without oppression. Therefore it is time for the world to recognise them as the Republic of Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh)."
Much of Tankian's music carries political messages, most notably perhaps during the lead-up to the Iraq War, when System of a Down released anti-war anthem 'Boom'.