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Meshuggah - ObZen CD (album) cover

OBZEN

Meshuggah

 

Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

3.69 | 188 ratings

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The T
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars From the moment I first heard MESSHUGAH's "Obzen" I realized I was in the threshold of another brutal experience but with some changes.

The relentless polyrythmic machine is back and better than ever. Tomas Haacke continues proving that he's probably one of the best metal drummers in the world, one that can amaze by just using the basic parts of the drums: a cymbal or hi-hat to keep the 4/4, the snare drum to do the accents, and the bass drum (in plural) to alter everything, playing a complete different signature. He doesn't rely on fills nor does he show-off his skills by trying to convince us that he has more than two arms. He relies on control, rhythm and limb-independence to create one of the most machine-like engines in music. His partners in crime (should we say in crythme?) are master axers Throdental and Hagstrom, who also create very horizontally-simple riffs that have amazing rhythmic possibilities that Haacke is never afraid to make the most of. MESHUGGAH is a rhythmic machine, MESHUGGAH doesn't care for melody or harmony. They've decided to focus on one of the elements of music and start their sonic attack being absolutely loyal to that principle.

In contrast with other albums, in "Obzen" I hear a little more prog-metal influences like TOOL (in the beginning of the disc) and also a slightly more accessible sound due to more traditional structures, the use of real drums, a crisper production, some guitar solos here and there (not completely dissonant, for a change) which, in the end, almost generate hints of melody. Yes, I wrote it right. But please, don't get me wrong. If there's the smallest idea of melody here, it's just because in past MESHUGGAH albums there was none.

I have but two criticisms for this album: first, and one I may never get rid of with this band, is the vocals. I have problems with Kidman horrendous screams, even though in one section in the album he actually goes lower than his usual pitch and sounds like death metal. His thunderous yelling fits the machine perfectly, but it hurts my ears. Two, the songs, because of the harmonic similarity of them all, sound very alike each other. It's very difficult to create an album where tracks can be differentiated mostly for their time signatures. As we don't have melody or changing harmony, all songs rely on the riffs to become distinct entities in the record. Sometimes the band fails at doing that.

Anyway, the best MESHUGGAH album in my opinion (I haven't heard them all though), still not perfect for me (probably never will be) but for the purposes the band intended, the kind of attack they wanted to create, this albums shows more restraint and control than others, and thus becomes a success.

Good entry point for MESHUGGAH beginners.

The T | 4/5 |

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