ObZen

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Band Name Meshuggah
Album Name ObZen
Type Album
Released date 07 March 2008
Music StyleExperimental Metal
Members owning this album387

Tracklist

1. Combustion 04:11
2. Electric Red 05:53
3. Bleed 07:19
4. Lethargica 05:49
5. ObZen 04:26
6. The Spiteful Snake 04:54
7. Pineal Gland Optics 05:14
8. Pravus 05:12
9. Dancers to a Discordant System 09:36
Total playing time 52:34

Review @ Crinn

09 January 2012

Amazing musician work, but literally nothing different from any of their other albums.

This was my first Meshuggah album. I actually got it a month or so after it came out when I unintentionally got caught in the middle of all the hype that was going on about this record. Most of the people that I’ve talked to have said that ObZen is Meshuggah’s best album; which is a statement that I fully agree with. There is one problem I have with this album and Meshuggah in general, and that is that they’ve been doing the same exact thing for almost 20 years. I hate to break it to you guys, but even though these guys possess some of the most amazing technical and instrumental skills, they are one of the least creative metal bands I have ever heard.

For those of you that aren’t super familiar with deathcore, I would suggest that you listen to some bands from that genre like All Shall Perish, Born of Osiris, and Veil of Maya. The thing that those bands have in common is that their version of that sudden drop in tempo commonly known as a breakdown is extremely complex and technical. Meshuggah is like that, except that’s all they are, one big breakdown that changes into another breakdown. Here’s the problem I have with that; the best breakdowns have a really fast part that leads into a buildup of tension that then drop in tempo going to the breakdown. The problem I have with Meshuggah is that there is no buildup at all (with the exception of a weak buildup as the intro in a couple of songs); it’s usually just a breakdown from beginning to end. It may sound awesome, and it does; it’s awesome! But it gets old and repetitive very quickly.

There is a small group of people that consider this constant breakdown style its own genre, giving it the name “djent”, which is a term that I haven’t come to accept or use. Although more and more bands are using more breakdowns in their music, Meshuggah still dominates them with the amount of them used; being considered by some to be the “inventors” of what we consider today to be a metal breakdown.

Now that I’m done whining, I’d like to say that although these guys have next to no creative abilities, they are some of the best metal musicians I’ve ever heard. Their songs are so technical and abstract that I can’t tap my foot or bang my head in time with the song because all the abstract and off-beat riffs this band does throws me off. Of course once I pulled out a metronome, it was proven that these guys are actually keeping perfect time throughout the song. Those of you musicians out there that have tried to play or write stuff like this know that it’s not easy at all and that the stuff Meshuggah pulls off is nearly impossible for everyone except Meshuggah (ever wonder why no one has ever covered a Meshuggah song?).

The best musician in the band is one of the best metal drummers I have ever heard. Those of you that know anything about a band should know that the drummer is the motor of the group that keeps the band on-tempo. Not only that, he has one of the best set of legs in the world. If you don’t have a perverted mind, you should be able to figure out what I mean by listening to the song Bleed off of this record. When most people hear the name Meshuggah, they think “I love their drummer!” which is what made me listen to them again after I was minimally impressed with them when I first heard them in 2008.

I will admit that their vocalist makes one of the best faces I’ve ever seen (click the link at the bottom of the review to see it). He doesn’t growl, he doesn’t sing, he doesn’t scream, he doesn’t yell, he doesn’t belch, he doesn’t even “Trollololo”. The sound that you hear flowing out of his mouth is the unfiltered sound of rage and anger from an unknown being. In other words, there’s no way to verbally describe the sound of his vocals, they’re that unique.

Overall, this album sounds no different from any of their other albums. The only thing that makes this album stand out to me the most is that there is more variation in tempo and technicality throughout the record. But otherwise, it’s just one long breakdown that drags on and doesn’t have any build-up, eventually disappointing your expectations for something bigger to happen. There isn’t any low point, it’s all at the highest point; the tension is literally unchanging throughout, therefore making this an album that is extremely addicting and enjoyable to listen to once, but will sound dull and boring after the first listen. So I only listen to Meshuggah like once every other month because of that. I would give this album 13/20.

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Unicorn88 - 09 January 2012: Great review & a review i fully agree with
Scoss - 16 November 2017:

I should have stopped reading at "they are one of the least creative metal bands I have ever heard", but I continued...
Saying that about a band that has been inlfuencing the metal scene for the last 20 years and will still be copied for at least the next 10 years shows had badly you master your subject.
Meshuggah popularized polyrythm and polymetric in Metal, created a whole new sound with their extra low tuning and use of 8 strings guitar as well as the use of jazz influenced dissonance. At the end of the 90's those guys were already 15 years ahead of their time. They just changed the face of Metal music and you write that they are not creative.
You compare them to Born of Osiris, Veil of Maya etc.. probably without knowing that Meshuggah influenced those bands.

Then your description of the music "Meshuggah consists only of breakdowns without build up". Meshuggah are playing their own style of riffs (that influenced Deahtcore breakdwon). Meshuggah's music is not made to be catchy, it is intended to be cold, heavy, mechanical, dehumanized, hence this feeling of repetition and monotony. This is exactly what makes them difficult to listen to (I have difficulties listening to an entire album even though I love them).

You have the right not to like it or find it repetitive or boring. I actually even appreciate that you wrote a detailed and argumented review of the album, but it gives me the impression that you did not understand the purpose of their music and that they created a unique sound that influenced the whole modern Metal scene (and not the opposite).


 

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Review @ Scandals

07 October 2008
Meshuggah are, or should I say were, in the unfortunate position of having to write a follow up to an album, Catch 33, that was universally acclaimed, unfathomably complex and frankly, brilliant. Essentially one 47 minute track broken up, its groove, time changes, musicianship and atmosphere was Nothing short of staggering. So how indeed do you manage to top or even move on from such a piece? Well ObZen is the answer. Starting off with, of all shocks, almost a straight forward thrash riff, Combustion shows that the band can still pull out simplicity when its effectiveness is required above obtuse rhythms. However this does not last long and here Meshuggah have always shone bright with their abilities. Their off-kilter chug and complex drumming patterns always create a mesmerising listening experience, and they are capable of making even the most difficult riffing appear easy. Ask any guitarist who’s tried to keep up with previous albums and they’ll tell you. Bleed is a perfect example of such exemplary talents; the twisting labyrinthine riff balanced by atmospheric soloing and pinned down by an unbelievable drumming performance. But it is the title track’s opening that could sum up Meshuggah’s sound in a single riff: heavy, complex, almost machine like in its execution and yet still wonderfully organic with its subtle changes in timing that a machine could never achieve so assuredly. It is a devastating mix, and confirms Meshuggah at the top of innovators in their particular field (technical post-thrash anyone?). But to be honest, as difficult as it is to mosh to classics like The Exquisite Machinery of Torture, Shed or Stengah, Meshuggah can break down with the best of them (witness the middle crash of Lethargica). It adds another element to their sound, almost a new accessibility that Catch 33 lacked: almost its only flaw was the fact that it has to be listened to as a single piece, never as a random pick on your iPod’s shuffle. ObZen is an album that you could pick any track from and not fail to be impressed. The vocals are still a bit hit and miss to whether you like them or not, the unchanging roar can lack an edge occasionally but the music speaks for itself. For me, the benchmark for albums of 2008.


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Comment @ Vinrock666

31 March 2009
Meshuggah's 2008 LP "ObZen" points the band's musical direction more towards a nu metal kind of aggressiveness and heaviness than they are previously known for. Excluding the mid-range screaming vocals, the proof is in the writing and playing styles of no less than five of the nine tracks. These songs exhibit a power that smashes your senses like a hammer. "Electric Red", "This Spiteful Snake", and "Pineal Gland Optics", are straight-forward, simple, bottom-end heavy, and slow in tempo. Some of the other songs are faster; however, and thankfully this is where Meshuggah fares better. "Bleed" fires on all cylinders with a relentless barrage of rhythm and repetition. The bass line weaves back and forth to form a very catchy power groove. The track also flourishes with a soft introduction into the second movement that lulls you into a shock when blasted back into thrash reality. "Lethargica" does the same thing with a slow break in its middle as well, but that blast is enhanced by a heavy dose of crashing cymbals throughout. "Combustion" and "Pravus" are two other exceptional tracks based on the speed and rhythmic dynamic of their song structure. If anything else, an argument could be made that the bass line often defines the lead more than not - "Pravus" and "Electric Red" being two fine examples. Lead guitar work is mostly confined to long noted fills and pedal work, the one exception is highlighted on the thematically framed solo from "This Spiteful Snake". The majority of "ObZen" however, is bass driven, and in general the bass sound overall is very cool. Since this line is the most prevalent on all of the tracks, it becomes the LP's heaviest anchor and greatest strength. For that reason Meshuggah's "ObZen" is a successful and impressive expression of metallic brutality.

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