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Meshuggah - ObZen CD (album) cover

OBZEN

Meshuggah

 

Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

3.69 | 188 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

CCVP
Prog Reviewer
4 stars Speed up the tempo already!

Widely known for their crushingly heavy music at insanely fast tempos and with even more insane technical requirements to be played, both equipment wise and skill wise, Meshuggah's 2008 studio album is the band's second album to let me down in the speed part of their music, finally consolidating their stylistic from thrash metal to its slower equivalent, groove metal.

That change by itself isn't something bad, but besides the reduced tempo, ObZen also features a more direct and straighforwrd side of Meshuggah which is unseen since the band's debut album, Contradictions Collapse, and a continuation of the experimentations with alternative metal and metalcore the band made in Catch .33., in a smaller extent, however. The final result of these, still cause this album to be one of Meshuggah's weakest albums, together with Contradictions Collapse and Catch .33., though ObZen is much better than Catch. Despite that, Obzen is still an album way above the average.

That said, I feel that some minor changes could have significantly improve the album's quality. First off, the tempo, an issue I brought up right in the review's title. Although not being bad, most songs, if not all, would sound much better if they were simply played faster, in the likes of the EP I and the album Chaosphere, which, by no coincidence, are the highest rated releases by Meshuggah. This will also result in a shorter album, what a very desirable quality in extreme metal albums.

Second, they should strip their music completely clean from the alternative inflences and alternative experimentations that they have been incorporating over the years. This kind of thing was clearly seen in the early to mid 90's auto-destruction of the thrash metal scene and always led to terrible results. With those two rather simple changes they would actually make a return to form album and would really improve their music.

Talking about the form, many have claimed, in the specialized media, all over the internet and on ProgArchives, that this album is some kind of return to form for the band. That would be the same as claiming that Yes' Going for the One and Genesis' Trick of the Tail are return to form albums. They are simply not. All three albums have brought back some of the characteristics of previous albums, meaning that they certainly are a returning to something, but they are in a distinct place, their style does not fit their supposed description. Besides, those albums do not have the same quality as the albums they are a return to, what further proves my point.

In spite of all those issues, this album isn't really bad, quite the contrary! Some of its many qualities are being a very round and smooth (it does not have any part better than the other and flows very well), all songs are overall very good, being well composed and well played. The production is great and it surely accentuates the heaviness of the band's sound, though I feel that, at times, the solo guitar stays in the shadow of the rhythmic section of the band (rhythmic guitar, bass and drums). The vocals are also top notch.

Grade and Final Thoughts

Meshuggah's latest is without a doubt a very solid studio release, in spite of ranking as the third worst album by the extreme metal band, what definitely shows how good their other albums are!

If you are looking for a place to start listening Meshuggah, ObZen's simpler and less extreme tunes, compared to the rest of the band's catalog, as well as possibly having every main characteristic of their music, should be the best place to go.

CCVP | 4/5 |

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