Meshuggah - ObZen
7 March 2008

01. Combustion
02. Electric Red
03. Bleed
04. Lethargica
05. obZen
06. This Spiteful Snake
07. Pineal Gland Optics
08. Pravus
09. Dancers To A Discordant System

Call it whatever you want, math metal, technical death metal, whatever else you can think of to call this kind of music - but Meshuggah are back in fine form with another album of skull crushing metal. Meshuggah are as heavy as ever before, for anyone unfamiliar with the band they have one of the heaviest sounds out there of any band at the moment - guitars and bass sound like they have as many strings between them as there are in an entire musical instrument shop, and once we have this incredible heavy force it is not straight forward from there. Meshuggah are rhythmically complex, stopping and starting as they do - it is not music that can be easily accessed by newcomers, even more so if they are alien to irregular timings, off-beats and other such progressive elements. To the untrained ear Meshuggah will sound like chaos with no real structure, but rest assure there is one in there.

Meshuggah have not changed their signature style and so "ObZen" stylistically will have no major surprises for fans of the band. The album is methodically paced, not the fastest you have ever heard but it does the job and does it well. Opening track "Combustion" is the fastest you will hear on the album, and with such intensity this song loosens your neck right from the start, as you will find yourself incapable of not headbanging to this gem. Along with the opening track, "Bleed" also demands special attention. This track is the musical equivalent of a nuclear bomb going off for seven minutes, Meshuggah have never been so relentless, you will find yourself unconsciously turning your CD player up as loud as it will go for this one. Title track "ObZen" and "Pravus" also offer themselves as highlights of the album but generally after the onslaught that is "Bleed", the album drifts off somewhat into a land where nothing seems to demand attention quite as much.

For the duration of over fifty minutes the album certainly has its high points, but "ObZen" is not without its flat points either. The album may start to become slightly monotonous to the ear, regardless of the original style Meshuggah has of playing there is a good chance you will become habituated to the style and all of a sudden it becomes a little less interesting. Of course if you are an obsessive fan and give your attention to hear every note that is played, the album is generally reasonably interesting throughout - the problems only come where you listen to this in a casual manner.

These days it is a given expectation that any album will have a great production, and Meshuggah do not let the side down here, the vocal screams are clear over the chaos below, guitars sound like juggernauts marching and it is always a pleasure to hear the twang of the bass. There is not a lot that can be poked at and complained about with "ObZen", the band have given us an album that fits our expectations and also a couple of numbers on this album will surely become classics. It would have been nice to keep the initial boiling intensity going throughout the album, but generally where intensity is lacking they make up with sheer bone crunching heaviness. Indeed, "ObZen" is an album that will please those who await it and also introduce a whole new following of fans.

Band profile: Meshuggah
Album: ObZen


Written on 06.03.2008 by
Baz Anderson
Member of Staff since 2006.
More reviews by Baz Anderson ››


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Talvi - 07.03.2008 at 02:31  
I was waiting for this review. I've only heard some of the tracks, and I really liked what I heard. Promising.
Introspekrieg - 07.03.2008 at 04:16  
The album may start to become slightly monotonous to the ear, regardless of the original style Meshuggah has of playing there is a good chance you will become habituated to the style and all of a sudden it becomes a little less interesting. Of course if you are an obsessive fan and give your attention to hear every note that is played, the album is generally reasonably interesting throughout - the problems only come where you listen to this in a casual manner.

You summed it up perfectly. I had to take this album in gradual, small doses. It is quite a gauntlet and after a few listens I am really starting to love this album. Now I am starting to see how all the pieces come together...
DahliaRock - 07.03.2008 at 05:18  
Great, great, great review of the album! Just expresses what I feel!
GT - 07.03.2008 at 10:17  
I liked a few tracks from this album especially the title track ObZen. Otherwise the album gets a little repetitive.
b0000mst1ck - 07.03.2008 at 10:46  
i wouldn't say the album becomes monotonous after "bleed", but rather it loses some intensity. the first time i listened to it i thought the entire tracklist would be as hard as "combustion", and i was somewhat disappointed after the fourth and fifth tracks went by. but after hearing the whole CD a few times i realized it's actually a pretty good album overall. not as good as some of their previous releases, but still very impressive. 8/10.
Katatronik - 07.03.2008 at 13:20  
I'm listening to it now, I think it's a very good album, though not their best.
But Combustion, Bleed, obZen and Pravus are amazing IMO...
SETHULHU - 07.03.2008 at 15:04  
i fully agree on the monotoneous idea, i expected more than what i got from this album, but then again i love a few albums for meshuggah and not all ...
Dark - 07.03.2008 at 17:40  
album is a fucking masterpiece...............
Deathmetal_Head - 07.03.2008 at 20:42  
A godly album, I expected nothing less.
Valaskjalf - 08.03.2008 at 12:58  
I like a few tracks..."Bleed" is fantastic and so energetic and intense its a huge pity that the rest of the album somehow wanders off into monotony after just one track. I expected a lot more...6.5/10
windash - 03.04.2008 at 12:51  
I agree completely at this moment with the general opinions expressed here. Meshuggah has always been a sort of side-interest of mine, kind of an intriguing band but nothing I listen to hardcore. They definately have always had an extremely unique and heavy sound but its something I can only seem to handle in small doses or it becomes overwhelming. I liked how they made things a bit more traditional this time around, but I still find myself taking this album in small doses. At first I was only digging Bleed and Electric Red (outro drums are inexplainably crushing). But gradualy I find myself turning the CD on in my car and exploring other tracks and I'm starting to crasp them all.

I really can't explain it perfectly I guess, but its like an overwhelming thing I have to take in slowly. But I'm pretty sure in a year or so I'll finally love every single song and be able to grasp everything that is going on. It's definately ahead of its time, just a monster for the average joe to try and grasp at all quickly.
Xxel - 12.04.2008 at 23:01  
I can just say, ''Bleed''. How do you come up with those kind of riffs and drumming? It's a bad ass great f-ing song. Combustion is the next best one, amazing also. None of the others really stand out, but are definately listenable.
Megadeth88 - 17.04.2008 at 16:04  
I heard "Bleed" a week ago and man it fuckin' kills. I can't wait to buy the album, I'm sure it's going to be great.
Killing Spree - 03.06.2008 at 14:32  
Best album yet!! "Combustion" = Billiance. "Bleed" = absolutely fucking amazing. "Pravus" = genius. "Dancers to a Discordant System" = pure fucking absolute genius metal balls on a dragons knob!!! The production really is a step foward. This album sums up the best of what Meshuggah have done so far. I wish I had never heard Meshuggah before & was introduced to them with this ObZen album... after a few girly beers & blasting this album, I'd be truely mind blown. I hope the "Dancers" & "Bleed" tracks is a sign of what Meshuggah will progress more into & beyond, because that is the new essence of thy shit that is truely kick arse!!!
ktscat666 metal - 12.07.2008 at 22:27  
ive never heard meshuggah before, but this is the best album ever
Sunioj - 12.07.2008 at 23:07  
Other than the first song (which is fantastic) the rest of the album bored me tears.
benvolent - 30.10.2008 at 23:49  
Really good review, but I think that this album has not deceived the judgement of being monotonous! Of course the opener promises a lot of speed. But they especially avoid to become monotonous by choosing a slower and more complex second number (electric red) and forcing us to listen a bit more attentive.
Besides ObZen is probably the most "easy-going"-album of Meshuggah so far - an invitation for newcomers. We could argue, whether this is good or bad, but it seems to me like made of one piece. Every part fits to the others - a fucking masterpiece (quoting 'Dark')!
And, yes, it's a pity, that combustion isn't on the setlist yet...speed, power, complexity - brilliant!
Solstafir! - 03.08.2009 at 23:35  
This band has got to be THE most underrated band EVER...
Chaosphere is just out of this freakin' planet!!!
as for ObZen, it's not without it's faults...but BLEED is a killer track!!!
Entropic Silence - 29.08.2009 at 12:37  
Bro they're not underrated in New Zealand I have never seen the Transmission room as full as when they were here. Obzen is their most cohesive effort, the production is intense. Grerat album. Can't wait for their next one, 2010 has been suggested...
Maxx666 - 31.01.2010 at 16:12  
A Masterpiece album
!J.O.O.E.! - 13.06.2010 at 03:40  
Basically a compilation of Meshuggah's previous styles rather than a specific, strong compendium of new efforts. By any other standards this would be fantastic but in their case it's only so-so, like a puppet's version of DEI. Bleed is far from the strongest track either, Combustion takes that ambiguous award. The least accomplished release to date, but oddly enough still quite enjoyable.

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