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Meshuggah - "obZen" (CD)

Meshuggah - "obZen" CD cover image

"obZen" track listing:

1. "Combustion" – 4:11
2. "Electric Red" – 5:53
3. "Bleed" – 7:22
4. "Lethargica" – 5:49
5. "obZen" – 4:27
6. "This Spiteful Snake" – 4:55
7. "Pineal Gland Optics" – 5:14
8. "Pravus" – 5:13
9. "Dancers to a Discordant System" – 9:36

Reviewed by on March 8, 2008

"This album isn’t a major step for Meshuggah, as far being experimental is concerned, but it is surely a step forward in a production sense"

Meshuggah is back once again with the new album “obZen.” With this new album Meshuggah has returned to it's old style, meaning traditional multiple-song format instead of their recent one-song albums such as “I” and “Catch Thirtythree.” By this time, Meshuggah has built up a large following in the metal community, and die-hard fans are at the point where they believe Meshuggah can do no wrong with their music.

This album stands to be another masterpiece by Meshuggah, who has mastered chaotic technicality to perfection. This album isn’t a major step for Meshuggah, as far being experimental is concerned, but it is surely a step forward in a production sense. This album is very well produced and the songs are as crisp as ever. The wonderful production allows the listener to pick up on the complexities faster and be a part in their twisted war-machine-like sound. The vocals haven’t changed any, but that’s nothing surprising. The drumming is back to life without use of the drum machine used on “Catch Thirtythree.” Meshuggah has also let the guitars do some major talking on many of the tracks, with blistering mathematical greatness. By no means is the album a guitar solo-happy work, but the guitar solos are appropriately placed as the ear-destroying/head-banging riffs Meshuggah is noted for.

The first track, titled “Combustion,” is a perfect way to get involved in this album; much like “Strength” was for their album “Nothing.” This song places the listener on a manic roller coaster and gives the neck a work out from a desire to engage in instant head banging after about twenty-seconds of the track. The riffs are straightforward until the middle of the song, when a screaming yet haunting guitar solo makes its way into the crushing riff. After the solo it slows just enough to let you catch your breath, and then the extreme hits you in the face once more as the track comes to a close, leaving you wanting more.

The rest of the album delivers what you want from Meshuggah. The second track, “Electric Red,” is conducted in a slower pace then “Combustion,” but it still delivers a crushing sound focusing on their classic odd-time signatures. This particular track seems like it would have been a great fit into “Nothing,” which will please many. “Electric Red” has a slow fade which again lets you take a deep breath until the next track, “Bleed,” gallops in with a strong concentration on the drumming. Around five-minutes into the track it takes a turn into their sound created in some of the sections of “I.”

By the time you get through with this album there will be nothing but a smile and a thought to yourself that Meshuggah has done it again with an album that will surely come to mind when considering best metal album of 2008. Tracks like “Combustion,” “obZen,” “Lethargica,” and “Pravus” will leave you stunned and wanting another listen to try and grasp it all again. In fact, this whole album has that effect. The album’s closing song, "Dancers to a Discordant System," is a nice summary of all that Meshuggah stands for and provides nice closure to the album. I suppose the only complaint someone may have is the album could have been more experimental, but one could always say that. However, when all is said and done, this album is a very mature and well-produced piece of art by one of the most important/creative metal bands that has been winning metal heads over for over ten years now.

Highs: Very well-produced album with elements from Meshuggah's other albums blended together for something new and exciting.

Lows: The experimental side of Meshuggah does not shine through on this album like some may have hoped for.

Bottom line: A must have for all Meshuggah fans.

Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls
4.5 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)