obZen review by Meshuggah

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  • Released: Mar 11, 2008
  • Sound: 10
  • Lyrics: 9
  • Overall Impression: 10
  • Reviewer's score: 9.7 Superb
  • Users' score: 8.8 (65 votes)
Meshuggah: obZen
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Sound — 10
From the opening notes of the first track Combustion, obZen is a trashy, high-energy affair. This song features something seldom heard in Meshuggah's catalog: a guitar solo that actually sounds like it was written by a metal guitarist and not a jazz fusion guitarist on a heavy dose of hallucinogens (the solo on This Spiteful Snake is a prime example of the latter). The title track is signature Meshuggah. Staccato, palm-muted guitars set to a time signature that you just can't quite headbang to. This song might just be heavy enough to cause a bowel movement, if played loud enough. My personal favorite from this album is the song Bleed. The drums are reminiscent of Alex Van Halen's Hot for Teacher gallop injected with a cocktail of PCP and steroids. The five Swedes (drummer Tomas Haake, guitarists Marten Hagstrom & Fredrik Thordendal, vocalist Jens Kidman and bassist Dick Lovgren) spent a grueling six months recording obZen, three months on the vocals alone. Kidman compared the experience to The Twilight Zone. All of the hard work has paid off, resulting in an album that is complex yet accessible, and has charted much higher than any previous release.

Lyrics — 9
The lyrics on this album convey a message of not only self-loathing, but a disdain for all of mankind. Haake writes the lyrics and believes that we have achieved zen in our current state of political unrest and moral degradation. He makes his point particularly clear on the title track: Decay, disgrace, disgust, our state of zen. The negative picture that the lyrics paint goes hand in hand with the punishing instrumentation found on obZen.

Overall Impression — 10
Overall, this album is heavier than a ton of bricks, and would probably be a fitting soundtrack to the World's Strongest Cyborg Competition on ESPN 2. Beyond the heaviness, there is a certain energy and freshness found on these nine tracks that is reminiscent of earlier albums such as Chaosphere and Destroy Erase Improve. Perhaps they have been inspired by some of the younger bands that they have influenced. (see Periphery) Whatever the inspiration, I'm glad the album turned out the way that it did. From start to finish it is an unrelenting, (not too) technical metallic juggernaut that demands to be played again and again.

13 comments sorted by best / new / date

    omarrodrigez
    Orkin wrote: Give me 5 minutes with Ez Drummer and a downtuned guitar and I could have wrote that album.
    That is one of the most ignorant things I've ever heard. If you can do it so easily, go do it. You are a pompous ***** with very little musical knowledge if you think you could whip up an album like Catch 33 with very little effort.
    Salvial
    omarrodrigez wrote: Orkin wrote: Give me 5 minutes with Ez Drummer and a downtuned guitar and I could have wrote that album. That is one of the most ignorant things I've ever heard. If you can do it so easily, go do it. You are a pompous ***** with very little musical knowledge if you think you could whip up an album like Catch 33 with very little effort.
    Exactly man, put up or shut up. If you don't understand the brilliance that goes on when these guys work together then I feel bad for you because it sounds amazing to me.
    Mazzakazza
    This arrived by mail order today, and I'm loving it. A message of pure hatred, pure Meshuggah!
    adamjowens
    [quote]Orkin wrote: Give me 5 minutes with Ez Drummer and a downtuned guitar and I could have wrote that album. quote] i seriously doubt that
    bazman13
    mattgab1 wrote: Destroyer858 wrote: Actualy they detune half semitone from the F# making it a F What is a halfsemi-tone? I won't wait for an answer.
    i can tune my keyboard to the half semitones. totatly pointless of corse, unless i want confuse guitarists into thinking they are outa tune. maby if you tune down from f half a semitone you can get that elusive E# oh and kickass album, my first meshugga album. and its freakin choice
    MagicFingersJCC
    toryponce is a dick. if your not going to write a proper review then don't bother. i'm surprised UG even posted that pitiful excuse of a review Obzen OWNS!
    PoP N FresH
    this album is so sweet, saw them live last night.....COMBUSTION IS WILD....as is pravus, electric red, bleed and dancers toa discordant system. long live tech metal. long live sweeden. long live ikea.....WOO FOR MESHUGGAH
    troyponce
    MagicFingersJCC wrote: toryponce is a dick. if your not going to write a proper review then don't bother. i'm surprised UG even posted that pitiful excuse of a review Obzen OWNS!
    It was an honest review, and it was posted well before any of the others. The UG Team one got backdated to match mine. I picked up a leak, listened a few times, then wrote what I thought before anybody else had word out on the site. Go ahead and be pissed that I didn't love the newest thing from one of your favorite guitarists, but I was hoping for a little growth from Thordendal. He's brilliant, and I want to hear more of his genius than what was on obZen.
    cLarity-
    The song "Bleed" makes me wanna cry because of Haakes ridiculous footwork.. WTF IS WRONG WITH HIM? Your feet shouldnt be allowed to play something like that.