System of a Down - Vicinity of Obscenity

Some bands are simply important. Important because their music holds no compromises, they tread where others fear, or simply cannot go. They represent true artistic integrity. System Of A Down are one of those bands. Whether you like their music or not you cannot deny the sheer brilliance of their work and the ferocious talent they possess.

Vicinity of Obscenity is an EP taken from the Hypnotize part of their dual album release this year. It is interestingly only available as a download and the first two tracks (out of five) 'Vicinity of Obscenity' and 'Lonely Day' are straight from the album. With recent releases the band have really been pushing the genre boundaries defying everyone by mixing metal, swing, folk and everything in between into a unique sound, constantly evolving and surprising whilst still maintaining the underlying essence of SOAD.

The first track is a perfect example of the band's ability to blend tempo, mood and style. Effortlessly switching between obscure hardcore verse sections singing about banana's and terracotta pies and choruses reminiscent of 70s funk there is an underlying perverse feel to the track. Lyrics which hint of obscenity and sex are complemented by childlike backing vocals which gives the track a disturbing feel that is completely compelling.

The second A-Side Lonely Day is a much more laid back song, the swung rhythm complements the plucked verse guitar and captivating vocals. This song in the hands of other bands could have been seen as cheesy, especially considering the ballad-esque guitar solo, but SOAD somehow manage to retain artistic integrity with this epic.

The rest of the EP is a treat for fans of the band. Shame is a collaboration with Wu-Tang Clan and is basically a typical SOAD song with some rapping. It works really well, surprisingly, and I hope that there will be further similar guest artists in the future. There's even a Black Sabbath cover, although listening to the track you wouldn't realise it! I'd like to hear System cover something like Coldplay's Clocks or something similar just to see how they'd interpret it.

If you're a huge fan of the band then this EP is for you, it would have been nice to have some artwork with it and a shiny case but download only does mean it's cheaper. Unfortunately as a fan you'll already own a large proportion of the songs, considering the length of the release. The extra tracks, while good, aren't SOAD's best work but are still worth a listen for completeness.