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OBZEN

Meshuggah

Tech/Extreme Prog Metal


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Meshuggah ObZen album cover
3.69 | 188 ratings | 30 reviews | 27% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection


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Studio Album, released in 2008

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Combustion (4:11)
2. Electric Red (5:53)
3. Bleed (7:19)
4. Lethargica (5:49)
5. ObZen (4:26)
6. The Spiteful Snake (4:54)
7. Pineal Gland Optics (5:14)
8. Pravus (5:12)
9. Dancers To A Discordant System (9:36)

Total Time 52:34

Lyrics

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Music tabs (tablatures)

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Line-up / Musicians

- Jens Kidman / vocals
- Fredrik Thordendal / guitars, vocals
- Mårten Hagström / guitars
- Tomas Haake / drums, vocals
- Dick Lövgren / bass

Thanks to painofdamnation for the addition
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MESHUGGAH ObZen ratings distribution


3.69
(188 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(27%)
27%
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(38%)
38%
Good, but non-essential (17%)
17%
Collectors/fans only (11%)
11%
Poor. Only for completionists (7%)
7%

MESHUGGAH ObZen reviews


Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Moatilliatta
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Meshuggah has got to be the only metal band that can surprise you by playing something with a comprehensible note sequence. Be it a normal guitar solo or riff, Meshuggah generally wants nothing to do with that. They would prefer beating you senseless with their heavy rhythmic assult - no melodies, no repetition in the rhythm, and certainly no sung vocals. So when I popped on their new album, obZen, I was astonished to hear a standard 4/4 riff, to which the rest of the musicians did not soon after provide the expected convolution. Sure, the intensity levels were still there, and it definitely sounded like Meshuggah, but this is a simplicity that we have not heard since the band's early years (keeping in mind that we're being subjective when referring to the simplicity, of course). Complete with a thrash-metal-esque guitar solo, Meshuggah has crafted a piece that resembles a song! The band has decided to let everyone know that they can condescend to a normal person's level while still crushing them. After that rockin' opener, Combustion, we move back into the familiar therritory of the highly- complex, and will remain there for the remainder of the album. This album is not as bizarre and incomprehensible as their releases from the past decade, but it is certainly Meshuggah at their most brutal. I would even go as far as to say that this is Meshuggah's most enjoyable album; while the music remains intellectually stimulating, you will be able to remember these pieces more easily than, say, I, and so you will be more likely to form a connection with them.

The band has basically taken elements from all of their albums and put together a condensed summary of their career thus far. While it may not go down as their finest work, it's not nearly as intimidating as the ones that might. Truth be told, though, it's on par with what you'd expect from this brilliant group, and it won't disappoint anyone. obZen will keep the current fanbase excited all the while picking up many new Meshuggah fans.

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Send comments to Moatilliatta (BETA) | Report this review (#164165) | Review Permalink
Posted Monday, March 17, 2008

Review by laplace
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars This latest (at the time of writing, narf) Meshuggah album frustrates this reviewer because its music is on the threshold of being exciting and intelligent, just waiting for that one small shove - noise. Perhaps that's a strange comment to make about an extreme metal band, but it's their refusal to play anything but closely regimented, harmony-less metal riffs that locks away their potential.

It's not that their style is lacking in heaviness, since they stomp away as monomaniacally as they ever have and continue to sound like daleks with hyper-amplified staple-guns. obZen delivers nine more songs developed in the usual logarithmic formula, etched onto the skin-grafted circuit-board name-tags we'll wear in their imminent dystopic future... but the mood of the album is entirely too crisp and OK to be horrific.

Here's my theory - if these cyberpunk lunatics dabble more in noise, in shock and in free jazz (since you can hear Thordendal aching to flip out all through obZen) then they'll become meaningful overnight. Right now, their music is a statement unexploited; I wanna hear 'em confront, to see them terrify.

*sigh* A solid beginning of, addition to or conclusion of a Meshuggah collection. They've been playing music at this level of tension for almost twenty years, so here's hoping the next one tightens the vice on us all.

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Send comments to laplace (BETA) | Report this review (#167815) | Review Permalink
Posted Thursday, April 17, 2008

Review by 1800iareyay
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars ObZen, the eagerly awaited return to form after Meshuggah's cold, programmed Catch-33, is a curious case. On pretty much every front it delivers: whereas Catch-33 was just too mechanical (why make Haake sit out when he could play the stuff he programmed?), this puts Thomas back behind the kit and shows the band go back to their Destroy Erase Improve and Nothing days. It's full of crushing riffs, distorted jazz-tinged solos, and pummeling drums; however, something is missing.

After a few spins, this feeling didn't go away. Hmmm, what could be absent from this album?....oh, how about a point? The music never goes anywhere. Take their 21 minute magnum opus I: that covered all kinds of drastic time changes, with some great solos and killer structure. This album, on the other hand, sounds like the same riff with a few variations over and over...and over.

Now, Meshuggah's always worked within a pretty narrow framework on their albums, but I've always felt that by the end of a listen their songs sound different. ObZen is a note-perfect album; not a moment is out of place or weak. However, I just don't care. I miss the Meshuggah who could really throw in some actual jazz into the mix, rather than just putting some in Fredrik's solos. So, at the end of the day, it's a great album musically, but it bores me. I supppose that balances things out.

Grade: C-

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Send comments to 1800iareyay (BETA) | Report this review (#167828) | Review Permalink
Posted Thursday, April 17, 2008

Review by 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.

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Send comments to The T (BETA) | Report this review (#168697) | Review Permalink
Posted Friday, April 25, 2008

Review by TRoTZ
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars Obzen adds almost nothing of new or particularly exciting regarding to their past releases. Music relies mostly in math rock rhythmic changes and less in hardcore dissonance (Bleed the most notorious exception), contributing to this as also the more picked guitars and the cleaner production. Formula is more again the same, and in Obzen there's nothing technically imposing as I or In Death - Is Live, nor the intriguing subtlety sparsely seen on Destroy Erase Improve. Still, pretty convincing and compelling for the genre (as if they weren't superbly skilled musicians and composers) but difficultly they will surpass themselves playing the same formula all over again - their unique style urges for another revolution.

6,5/10 (good-)

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Send comments to TRoTZ (BETA) | Report this review (#170775) | Review Permalink
Posted Monday, May 12, 2008

Review by OpethGuitarist
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Back to the good old days, a return to the Chaos.

If there was ever a doubt as to the direction Meshuggah has taken over the past few years, it was answered here, with Obzen. In what I like to call their most efficient album, Meshuggah cuts through the pulse again with another mathematically proficient work. The rawness found on earlier albums is mostly gone, and the high octane style is much more rhythmically efficient and seemingly effortless than the complex rhythms of its predecessors. This is not to say that this album sounds stale and merely a perfection of a style that has been being honed for over a decade, indeed, there is much more to take from this.

The band seems more in tune with each other than ever before, setting down rhythmic patterns that will make one's head spin with a relative grace that was not found on previous heavy records that were more raw, brutal, and unforgiving in nature. The highlight here is Bleed, which essentially represents the core of Meshuggah, and what makes them go, with impeccable playing from all of the band members. The beginning is lost here behind a sure-to-remember rhythmic pattern that will leave most simply befuddled in awe. If one was to ever doubt the status of Meshuggah as going full on into groove or jazz metal, be warned, the metallic chaos is back and as strong as it was on Chaosphere and DEI.

Simply put, Kidman and company are back on track, releasing their indistinguishable sound and quality upon all who dare to try their technical and unforgiving style. Highly recommended.

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Send comments to OpethGuitarist (BETA) | Report this review (#178395) | Review Permalink
Posted Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Review by el böthy
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Meshuggah´s music has shifted thru out the years. Starting as a death/trash metal band with Contradiction Collapse and Destroy Erase Inprove they moved into more tech direction stripping their music from any resemblance of melody and playing as fast as (un)humanly possible with Chaosphere they then tuned down their guitars and slowed their tempos to become the ultimate groove metal band making some of the most bone crushing riffs ever with Nothing and then leaving all behind to fully dive into experimental territory with the I ep and the 47 min long concept song/album Catch 33 Meshuggah has pretty much tapped a bit of everything in the extreme metal gorunds and always delivered the best music in each sub genre. So now that Meshuggah has done so much and so different things, even though always remaining true to their sound (you never for one second forget you are listeing to Meshuggah), what could be done next?

The awnser is obZen, an album that captures everything the band has been doing since their first album down to their last without sounding repetetive. It is, in a way, their swan song (til now at least). The fast, the slow, the groovy, the tech, the experimental, the trashy, it´s all here and in finest shape. Granted, it´s not as trashy as Destroy Erase Inprove, and it´s not as fast as Chaosphere, and it´s not as slow as Nothing nor as experimental as Catch 33, but obZen is all of those things all in one album. This is by far Meshuggah´s most varied work to date and, might I say, their best because of it. While all Meshggah´s albums are great they tend to be a bit same-y. Not this one. Here the now five pice line-up goes from trash with their opener Combustion on to groovy riffing wih Lethargica passing thru the ultra tech Bleed (which is Meshuggah´s best song after the incredible 21 min I) where all hats must be taken off for Thoman Haake for playing what must be some of the most difficult and creative drum patterns I have yet to hear in metal on to the more experimental Electric Red they do it all, sometimes even in one song like Pineal Gland Optics (which I can´t see how that can be played) where riffs, groove, experimentation and some faster tempos all collapse into an impressive piece of extrem music.

This is Meshuggah at it´s best! It´s not only an inpressive album to follow but also a great introduction to the band for the new comers. Again I must remark Haake´s drumming for he has never played better than in this album (which is already impresive) and, as always, to Fredrik Thordendal who I believe to be metal´s most important guitarist of the last 10 years! His riffs, his rythmic pattern´s and soloing have already crawled into a number of bands (including some non metal bands too) and there is a good reason for it, and this album is just another reason why. Also I must call out the best songs, which are, as I already said, Bleed, Electric red, obZen, Pineal Gland Optics and the fantastic 9 min closer Dancers To A Discordant System which has one of the best riffs I´ve ever heard in metal music. Allmusic.com called Meshuggah the most important band in metal today... and it´s true! GET THIS ALBUM!

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Posted Saturday, October 04, 2008

Review by The Pessimist
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars Meshuggah's album is an interesting one conceptually. Whereas in their previous albums they were experimenting with all sorts of different styles, rhythms and atmospheres, this one is a conglomerate of all four album phases they've been through. This, however, is a remarkably bad thing. Meshuggah are one of my favourite bands, but one of the things that motivates me, in fact the initial thing that motivates me, to buy a new album, is the fact that you KNOW it's going to very different from the last one you bought. Not the case with Obzen. Of course, this can be seen as a new experiment on it's own, or maybe even the 'final product', but there is nothing here we haven't heard before. Which makes it quite pointless to listen to. Anything that is done on here has been done in DEI, Chaosphere and Nothing, so if you look at Meshuggah in the same way I do then you will have very low patience for this album.

On the bright side, however, they have introduced something completely crisp and new to their repetoire. The song Bleed. It is incredible, and the mad rhythm machine of Meshuggah have revealed their ability to play grace-notes like no other band. This song is extremely tight and is an onslaught from start to finish (barre the quiet atonal section at around the 4 minute marker) and is probably one of my favourite songs they've ever pulled out. Also, the production is pretty damn amazing. You can hear every note crystal clear (apart from when they don't want you to) on this record, which is a definite upside. The mixing was done with quite some skill, as you can also hear the bass and both guitars seperately. The absence of this is often a criticism of Meshuggah.

Other than that, however, this album provides nothing to fans like myself. The two other tracks that may deserve mention are Pravus and Pineal Gland Optics, as they are both almost impossible to tap along to. How these guys do it surpasses me completely! However, on a musical perpective (contrary to a mathematical perspective), I don't have the patience for this album: we've seen it all previously. Listen to Bleed if you are to take anything from this. It's not a bad album, and would be a good place to start with this band, but from a fan's point of view, it's unoriginal and quite dull. 3 stars at best.

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Posted Friday, November 07, 2008

Review by horsewithteeth11
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars After almost a year of being a member on this site, I tend to find that in many cases, I have a minority opinion. And in the case of Obzen, that's no exception. This is easily my favorite Meshuggah album, at times it's even more brutal and heavier than Chaosphere, it's chock-full of the technicality one would come to expect from the guys from Umea, Sweden by this point, and it's definitely a great combination of everything that Meshuggah has done to date, from death to thrash to groove to experimental metal, a little bit of everything is in here. We also have the return of real drums versus programmed ones. Sure, this album may be a mix of all of Meshuggah's previous works, but it's certainly not copying off all of them. Now onto the songs:

1. Combustion - We start with a simple guitar line (well, simple for Meshuggah) for a few seconds before being crushed and dragged kicking and screaming into the song. And like a previous reviewer has said, we get treated to what is, oddly enough, an actual song. This is a more simplistic form of thrash metal Meshuggah-style. Great guitar solo in here from Thordendal as well. One of my personal favorite Meshuggah tracks, and one of the reasons I even bothered to keep with Meshuggah, despite my initial reaction. 10+/10

2. Electric Red - We return to some groove metal in this song. And later on in it we get...different types of groove metal. By different types, I mean that the song is generally a groove metal song, but it throws in lots of changes, so it's more of an experimental groove metal. At times, I almost feel like there are actual melodies in this song, although I could just be hearing things. Meshuggah tends to have that effect on me. At 2:55 we have a somewhat lighter section with focus most certainly on the drums, much better now that Haake is physically behind the kit again. Another soft section repeats a bit after 4 minutes. A good track, although this one seems to feel slightly formulaic. 8.5/10

3. Bleed - A deceptively simple song, yet one of the most complex things Meshuggah has ever tried. Haake has stated in interviews that he spent as much time on this song as he did the rest of the album. It's a completely new drum technique that I've never heard Meshuggah use before. This song will likely however take time to grow on you, as it took me several listens to truly see everything that was going on in this song. I couldn't even mention all of them in this one review alone. At 4:10 a soft, almost melodic section comes in. Very dark, and it would fit into a classic horror movie if it wasn't for the distortion. Following this section is another fantastic guitar solo which builds very well. Words don't do justice to this song. You have to hear it first to understand the genius. Easily one of the best songs Meshuggah's ever made. 10+/10

4. Lethargica - Another more groove metal-esque song, although I don't really enjoy this one quite as much as Electric Red. The intro to the song is actually something that one could easily dance to. Another slow and soft, yet creepy section around 2:15. This is probably my least favorite track on the album however, as I feel it isn't developed enough throughout its entirety. 8/10

5. Obzen - The title track, and another gem on the album. Starts with lead guitar playing a complex, ever-changing note. It feels like they were trying to take it apart almost. Rhythm guitar comes in a little bit later and adds some background feeling to the song before Kidman comes in. If you want to know what this album is about, listen carefully to the lyrics here, because they sum it up very well. I LOVE the guitar solo that Thordendal plays on this song. One of my favorite metal solos to be honest. Not insanely complex, but it has a great feel to it. Excellent, excellent track in every aspect. 10+/10

6. This Spiteful Snake - We're back to groove metal again, and really this is the last time we get a good taste of it on this album. The guitars and drums in this song make me think of a snake creeping along and sneaking up on its next unfortunate prey/meal. Great guitar interplay on this song. My favorite of the more groove metal style tracks on the album. 9/10

7. Pineal Gland Optics - Like Lethargica, the intro to this song almost makes me want to dance along to it, yet it's a bit more hectic than that. A very "groovy" song for lack of a better word, but in no way do I mean groove metal. It takes multiple listens to find out what's going on in this song. One of the Meshuggah songs one could actually dance to and it would look, well, fairly normal. No real weak sections on this track. 10/10

8. Pravus - Like the previous song, this one will take multiple listens to understand fully. Around 30 seconds in it goes from Meshuggah high on speed to Meshuggah slowing it down before taking us back to the original intro. At times, it almost sounds like Meshuggah threw atmospheric and very distorted keyboards in the background, even though those sounds are really guitar. A somewhat weirder track, almost RIO-level weird, but very enjoyable. 10/10

9. Dancers to a Discordant System - The last track clocks in at just over nine and a half minutes, but it's a real gem, and easily as good as Bleed. Starts off with an eerie atmosphere before crushing us with an absolutely mind-blowing riff. Kidman actually starts off with growling vocals, which are very death metal-like, before moving on to his beastly, unearthly growls. I picture a very disturbing ballroom era 1750s with very grotesque dancers dancing/waltzing to this song. The lyrics paint very vivid pictures on this song. The guitars have a great deal of subtle changes throughout the first half of the song, so it never feels old. The guitar solo...I can't even describe the feeling behind it. If anything, it has a feeling of being dragged down to the very depths of hell before being brought back up. I could listen to it all day to be honest. Like Bleed, this song must be heard to be believed. 10+/10

Overall, this is Meshuggah taking bits and pieces of everything that they've done and combining it into another original, top-notch album. If you can't stand an entire album filled with very atonal/dissonant guitars and no clean vocals, stay away. But for those who can, at least give this album a try. I think one of the issues some people have with this album is that they haven't given it enough listens. This album is definitely one that takes time to grow, but after about 5 or 6 listens, I finally understood it. It's a very subtly complex album, while still retaining the Meshuggah sound that I have come to know and love. Honestly, I'm not sure if I could call this album a masterpiece of progressive music, but I can't really find a reason not to, no matter how hard I try. Therefore, I think this album is deserving of every star I give it, all 5 of them.

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Posted Friday, November 21, 2008

Review by MovingPictures07
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars Not for the faint of heart!

1. Combustion- Here begins the sonic assault. The best part of this album: it gets heavier after this song! Everything here is perfectly crafted with absolutely mind-bending instrumental and time signature work to create a uniquely dark sound. They actually give you a few seconds to catch your breath in this one! 10/10

2. Electric Red- I really like the drum and guitar work on this one (well, as usual). Haake does a wonderful job of pushing the song along with his fantastic drum work and the guitar has a very interesting erratic tone to it. Another masterpiece song. 10/10

3. Bleed- The high point of the album! 7 minutes of pure headbanging Meshuggah genius; everything is the pinnacle of machine-like in this track. The track pulsates and systematically drags you along with it. This is the very definition of mechanical. The break with the guitar solo in it here is just as cold, but it is played wonderfully and still is able to transmit amazing amounts of emotions. Flawless. 10+/10

4. Lethargica- Who would have thought lethargy to sound like this? It actually works. As you attempt to drift into heavy-headed slumber, Meshuggah continues to pound away amazingly at their instruments and craft another signature composition. The ending has a perfect fading repetition. Trying to sleep to this isn't smart! 10/10

5. ObZen- Genius once more. These tracks are all played masterfully to the point of head explosion, unique in structure, and a full onslaught of notes and emotions coming at you with hardly any stops. This track again conveys that machinery feeling once more in its form, and it works. 10/10

6. The Spiteful Snake- Very atonal (that could describe the whole album, but especially so) guitar lines open up this album as the drums snake around to move the track forward. The whole mood to this is absolutely hypnotic, complex, and cold. Like its track description, it does have a very snake-like feel to it. 10/10

7. Pineal Gland Optics- What more is there to say? Another perfectly crafted and played track in the same vein yet with a unique flavor in comparison to what came before it. The ending is menacing. 10/10

8. Pravus- Woah, this one is even more action-filled than the last couple songs! I really like the noisy guitar part that makes this track incredibly intense. Definitely not for the faint of heart. 10/10

9. Dancers to a Discordant System- The most perfect possible closer to this album, at 9 minutes in length. Kidman's vocals continue to shine here as they have throughout, adapting the moods without flaw and here he mixes up his style quite well to fit the music. You hear all of Meshuggah's signature sounds here in a mini-epic of amazing structure! It is entirely distant, mechanical, and intense; that does not change. Another pinnacle Meshuggah composition. Flawless. 10+/10

Conclusion: This is NOT for the faint of heart. I can't say that too many times. Oddly enough, I am not a huge metalhead at all, in fact I usually shy away from really heavy material. This, however, intrigued me on first listen.

An absolute masterpiece of music. A mechanical rhythm-bursting onslaught that consumes all who cannot take it. This is the definition of artistic hardcore extreme metal.

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Posted Sunday, December 07, 2008

Review by JJLehto
PROG REVIEWER
2 stars Meshuggah is one of the most interesting bands out there. They are the epitome of technical metal. They play some brutal, crushing riffs that are fitting for the most metal band, however it is often in time signatures and polymeter's/polyrhythm's that baffle the mind. I never thought I would see a metal band jamming in 24/16!

I say all that because I can not stress enough the skill these people have. I say that because despite their supreme mastery of how music works, there albums are often hit or miss for me. There are some songs that are brilliant but the others I can not stand. They are either boring or I just can not make it through. This is the case with "obZen"

While I LOVE the riffs, extreme technicality, and drumming, (which I can not believe is human sometimes) this album is a huge bomb for me. The song "Bleed" is my favorite of the album. Its main riff seems simple upon first listen and while it may not be the usual Meshuggah riff easy is the last way to describe it. It is a brutal, fast riff that just trying to play along with air guitar makes my arms hurt. The drumming I can only describe as inhuman. Thomas Haake is, in my opinion, the best metal drummer right now, hands down! We all know his ability of playing 2, even 3, separate beats at a time, (often off beat and with blistering bass drums in whacked out time signatures). I swear the man must have 3 brains. His drumming on "Bleed" is truly unmatched.

I also enjoy the songs "Pineal Gland Optics" and "Pravus". However, that is it. Outside those 3 songs I can not listen to the rest of this album. Here is why:

1.) The vocals! I love Meshuggah's music and am constantly in awe of their technical abilities. However, I never could stand the vocals of Jens Kidman. I am a long time fan of metal, (and death metal) and can tolerate a lot of vocal styles most of my friends can not, but Jens voice is just too piercing. Maybe a different style would help, maybe just lowering the volume, but I have a tough time focusing on the music. Several of the songs on "obZen" I get into, and then just hit NEXT when Jens kicks in. His voice just pierces everything.

2.) Their greatest aspect may be their downfall... I sometimes Meshuggah are too technical for their own good. Now I love technical music, but even I have a heard time following some of the songs on this album.

3.) Boring. To be blunt, Meshuggah has a tendency of boring me, and this album continues the trend. For whatever reason, I just start losing my interest through most of the songs and can not even finish it. I think they are predictable on this album, and again...just too technical. I think Meshuggah tried to pack everything they've done onto this album at once. While that could work...it fails on "obZen". All we have is a wall of noise and chaos.

Overall, this album should only be for fans of Meshuggah, therefore I give it 2 stars. Perhaps I just can not take the harshness of the album...

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Posted Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Review by Rune2000
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Prog Metal Team
2 stars My favorite Meshuggah-era began with None from 1994 and concluded with I a decade later. I didn't find Catch 33 to be on par with those releases due to excessive use of drum machines and lack of bass sound outside the digital one that came from the drums. In hope of a new Meshuggah era I listened to ObZen, but this album managed to disappointed me even more than Catch 33.

It's not really the writing that makes this a lesser release since most of the tracks are pretty solid. Instead it's the band's performance that isn't what it used to be. Jens has a great voice but this time around I found it irritating. I don't know whether his vocal cords have weakened due to the abuse that they have undergone over the years or that he just tries too hard to sound even more brutal than what he used to. As for the instrumental section of the band I found them going for a more Tool-like sound on this album and although I love Tool we all know that Meshuggah is pretty original on their own so they definitely have no need to imitate other acts and just progress in the direction that they have been going for all these years.

The material here is, for most part, solid but is brought down by the mentioned flaws and I therefore hesitate to bring up a single stand-out track. It's more a question of which of the compositions have suffered the least from this new approach.

Overall ObZen is in my opinion a flawed release by a great band that we all know can do a whole lot better than this. Incidentally the album has become the most commercially successful release of their career which has to do with the Meshuggah-by-numbers approach which occupies almost all of this album's running time. Let's hope that the band will re-group for their next album and surprise me once again!

**** star songs: Combustion (4:11) Pravus (5:12) Dancers To A Discordant System (9:36)

*** star songs: Electric Red (5:53) Bleed (7:19) Lethargica (5:49) ObZen (4:26) The Spiteful Snake (4:54) Pineal Gland Optics (5:14)

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Posted Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Review by JLocke
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars When I first heard the opening riff of ''Combustion'', the first track on ObZen, I knew that I was going to hear a different Meshuggah than had been chugging away in my headphones over the past few years. With the album Chaosphere, they showed how fast and technical they could get; with the albums Nothing and Catch 33, they slowed down the pace a bit and focused on the odd rhythms and grooves they pull off so magnificently; with ObZen, they have gone in the other direction almost entirely, dropping the super-random, odd rhythms for a more straightforward, consistent aggressiveness. They've also gone back to implementing a little more variety in the notes of their riffs. While calling anything on this record a full-blown 'melody' is still a bit of a stretch, it's obvious that the direction of the music has gone ever so slightly into more traditional territory.

Now, that's not to say that this album isn't just as technical or complex as always (and fans of the band need not be concerned, believe me. This is still the Meshuggah you know and love), but it DOES mean that rather than the type of wild, frantic rides the last few releases have conditioned you for, this album will challenge you once again to accept Meshuggah as they mix things up and guide you down foreign corridors. The listening experience is still fun, but if you go into this expecting the same exact experience as before, you might at first find yourself a little disappointed.

However, what is so great about ObZen is that it reveals its genius over time to the cautious listener. Sure, the immediacy of my appreciation for past Meshuggah releases wasn't there this time around, but I did learn to enjoy this album based on its own rules once I realized that the intent here was not to continue in an old direction. In fact, this record is so simple at times (well, by Meshuggah standards, at least), it makes you wonder if perhaps the guys were still reeling from the monster that was Catch 33. While that album still stands as my favorite Meshuggah release, I now find myself enjoying ObZen almost as much. This is a whole different beast, but it is still a beast.

So the playing is still technical and rhythmically sound, and the music grooves like always, but the song structures themselves don't sound nearly as calculated or meticulous as what you might be used to. The songs are a bit looser, and more free. The rhythms are more traditional more often, and the overall mood of the music gives the impression that this release may be something of a slightly less-involved younger brother to its predecessor.

The music itself is just as enjoyable as ever, though, and just because you won't be scratching your head as often or thinking to yourself 'how did they do that?' as much doesn't mean ObZen is inferior-- it's just a little different. There are still some truly memorable moments to be heard, such as the explosive opening riffs to ''Combustion'', the otherworldly guitar solo during the middle of ''Bleed'', the strong, chugging ''The Spiteful Snake'', and many others. Rather than that machine-like rhythmical puzzles Meshuggah has become known for, the songs here tend to have a more ferocious, smooth flow that is still just as unforgiving and brutal as ever, but perhaps not quite as mind-numbing as on the previous few releases.

It took a little bit of time, but I learned to love this album for its own strengths, and once I stopped comparing to other Meshuggah albums, any pre-conceived expectations I may have had dissolved, and my enjoyment of ObZen increased considerably. It's just as good as any of the band's previous masterpieces, and I now consider it one of their best. it's clearly more straightforward in its delivery, but the stuff that makes the band's music great is still there, in my view. Give it a shot, even if at first you wish it 'had been more like (insert favorite Meshuggah album name here)'. It's one of the most aggressive Meshuggah releases, but the rhythmic games aren't quite as impressive this time around. That still don't make the album weak at all. It still rocks, above all else, and that is enough reason to listen to this one than anything.

Happy listening.

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Posted Monday, March 22, 2010

Review by 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.

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Posted Saturday, December 04, 2010

Review by Andy Webb
FORUM & SITE ADMIN GROUP Site and Forum Admin
3 stars If you can dance to this, you've got skills.

Meshuggah has come back after the great Catch-33 with obZen, a more thrash-based than "jazz"-based album. Here you'll find just constant bombardment of heavy guitars and fast drums throughout the album. Each song can hold its own, but overall the album can easily fall into "monotony" and overbearing continuity, with some more creative and "refreshing" sections. Everything typical of Meshuggah's signature sound can easily be found within the album, with crazy guitar riffing, crazy polyrhythmic drumming, and some wacky solos that really make no sense whatsoever.

Combustion opens the album on a smashing note, opening just 13 seconds in with an intense thrash metal riff, bottomed out by 8 string guitars. The song doesn't let up, but just keeps going, and going, and going, and going, until the 4 minute song ends. The song is good, but can be a little tiring after a while.

Electric Red is similar to Combustion, with a more djenty riff going on then just constant chugging. The song is a little more creative, with some cool rotational tom-filling backing the djenty guitars. Most oft he instrumental sections lack creativity, and the riffing can get a little stale. At points the song picks a certain inventive charm, but it's lost rather quickly by the return of the verses.

Bleed is one of my favorite tracks on the album. It opens immediately with a triplet-based riff at an intense speed. The song is over the top intense and a massively intense ride. The instrumental section is highly experimental and creative, making for an exceptional track.

Lethargica is another intense thrash metal riff based track. For a creative aspect, the song does include a very experimental discordant and dissonant "solo" and instrumental section that makes the song an interesting addition to the album.

Obzen is also one of my favorite tracks on the album, with another triplet based thrash riff with some really cool dissonant guitar melodies backing it. The song is intense the whole way through, keeping a head band worthy polyrhythm throughout the whole song.

This Spiteful Snake drops for the most part the intense insanely fast tempo for a slower more deliberate approach to the djent. The song features a more steady attack of guitar and drum that the others, making an overall good and different track.

Pineal Gland Optics continues the intensity of the thrash metal, this time with even more bopping djent influence. At this point the music is getting a little tiring and my interest plummets until the advent of the last track. The rhythms and riffs seem to be repeated and ideas become stale. Overall, the individual track is great, but running through the whole album the track is very boring.

Pravus is actually a fun track. Rather than gust a chug-chug-djent-chug pattern of riffing, they throw in some more creative riffs with some really cool dissonance and discordant elements. The inventiveness of this riff only lasts for a short time, however, as the song soon slips back into the world of overbearing thrash and djent nonsense (at this point).

Dancers to a Discordant System is no doubt my favorite track on the album. Nearly 10 minutes long and full of pure epic progression and spite, the song is near perfect. This song is a just reward for listening to 50 minutes of virtually the same thing. The intro is a purely fantastic discordant and dissonant polyrhythm, that breaks into a dynamic show of thrash, djent, discordance, rhythmic mastery, and all that good stuff. Here we have the return of Meshuggah to their more "jazzy" influences, with crazy time signature changes, odd rhythms and groupings, and an overall fantastic ride. Overall, the song has everything you could possibly want from a Meshuggah song, packed into a 9 minute long capsule of evil joy.

ALBUM OVERALL: The album is a mixed blessing. Just like I said in my review of Carving Desert Canyons by Scale the Summit, song to song the album is fantastic. But to listen to the whole thing through and through, it gets incessantly boring and repetitive. A few bright spots on the album can keep you tuned to the music, but long passages of constant bombardment by the same djent and thrash metal riffing. Overall, the album is good in places, bad in others, and overall just an average album. 3+ stars.

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Send comments to Andy Webb (BETA) | Report this review (#381638) | Review Permalink
Posted Monday, January 17, 2011

Review by Conor Fynes
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars 'ObZen' - Meshuggah (7/10)

If ever there was an unlikely metal band to receive both widespread acclaim and recognition from the public media, it is Sweden's Meshuggah. Although they are rightfully hailed as one of the most talented acts in metal today, their trademark sound of heavy rhythmic experimentation and abrasiveness certainly isn't an easy drink to swallow, but the band still gains new legions of fans with every new record they churn out. 2008's 'ObZen' is played by a band that already enjoys quite a few years of experience, but it is my first legitimate album experience with Meshuggah nonetheless. Although by all means a thrash metal record, there is much more going on here, and although I have been reluctant to look into this band for a while, I have always shared the notion that they are indeed one of the most skilled acts out there. 'ObZen' only reaffirms this belief, and each song is made to be a clear statement that Meshuggah show no intent in stopping their metal barrage. Despite all of the brilliance employed on the album though, there is the impression that the music may have been more enjoyable, had Meshuggah pulled out more than one fancy trick to work with.

'ObZen' features a general return to jazzier modes, although the music Meshuggah makes on 'Obzen' certainly will not be seen as jazz to the vast majority of listeners. Instead, the first impression is that of highly rhythmically unconventional thrash metal, complete with some incredibly aggressive shouting vocals, courtesy of Jens Kidman. Despite the very angry and in-your-face attitude the music presents however, the album is backed up by a surprisingly vivid exploration in philosophy. The album name itself turns out to be a portmanteau of the words 'obscene' and 'zen', and the album reflects on how the human race has found a state of harmony through constant violence. Heavy material to be sure, and the music reflects this through each palm muted riff.

Meshuggah also pass me as being one of those bands that would require each band member to also be an expert in mathematics, as well as an absolute machine on the drums. Kidman's vocals take some time to warm up to, but- like quite a few progressive metal bands- the vocals are the weakest link in the sound. Every instrumentalist is an absolute genius at playing intensely complex rhythms, while keeping in check with the separate rhythms each other member is playing. The catch here is that this is really the only flashy trick Meshuggah pulls out for the entire record. As mind-numbing and incredible as it is, there is the feeling by the end of 'ObZen' that one has just listened to the same two or three riffs played over and over again, albeit in different time signatures. For a band who obviously borders genius, this does feel like something of an obvious mishap for the band, but for their somewhat narrow sound here, they do an absolutely incredible job of it.

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Send comments to Conor Fynes (BETA) | Report this review (#442153) | Review Permalink
Posted Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Review by UMUR
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars "obZen" is the 6th full-length studio album by Swedish technical/experimental extreme metal act Meshuggah. The album was released in March 2008 by Nuclear Blast Records. "obZen" has seen both a CD and a vinyl release.

Meshuggah are a grinding and alien sounding machine. Razor sharp and bone crushingly heavy riffing delivered in odd time signatures, groove based precision drumming, aggressive, distorted and shouting vocals and those Holdsworthian jazzy guitar solos as the icing on the cake. in the early- to mid nineties Meshuggah were tagged groove thrash but they've become something more beastly, mechanic and cold since then. The change started with "Chaosphere (1998)" and Meshuggah have since then experimentet with their sound. There haven't been much on any of the band's releases between 1998 and 2008 that signaled a return to a more groove thrash dominated sound, but I'll be damned if "obZen" doesn't show signs of this. A track like opener "Combustion" especially reminds me of the early technical groove thrash days of the band. When that is said, the music on "obZen" is still complex, challenging and anything but an easy listen. There are more "hooks" on the album than on any of the band's releases since "Destroy Erase Improve (1995)" though.

Besides "Combustion", which is one of the standout tracks on the album, I simply have to mention "Bleed". It has to be one of the most relentlessly aggressive and punishing pieces of music I've yet encountered. The fiercely fast paced and rythmically complex riffing in that track are "out of this world" to say the least. We're talking riffs that will hurt playing for even the most enduring guitarist/bassist. The rest of the tracks are of an outstanding quality too and simply among the best the band have yet released. The clean yet raw and powerful sound production only further enhances the listening experience.

As such "obZen" doesn't add much new to Meshuggah's signature sound, but it brings together the greatest components from all their previous releases and ends up being a demonstration in how to create powerful, memorable and punchy extreme metal without sacrificing clever songwriting. Like the case has been with most Meshuggah releases, "obZen" has taken a couple of years to really sink in. It's not the kind of album you listen to once and fully grasp. The songs take time to tell apart, but patience is the key to the irresistible hypnotic grooves on "obZen". Grooves that only Meshuggah create to this level of perfection. A 5 star (100%) rating is fully deserved.

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Send comments to UMUR (BETA) | Report this review (#718507) | Review Permalink
Posted Monday, April 09, 2012

Review by Prog Sothoth
COLLABORATOR Prog Metal Team
4 stars A combination of "zen" and "obscene", this album, like much of Meshuggah's output, to me works best as a sort of meditative piece, similar to what that character on this album's cover is undergoing. The music is so rhythm-based, that to capture the genius of what this band can accomplish, one should relax and let all these crazy polyrhythmic structures wash over you. Yes, it's loud as hell, and consistent at that, plus there's also vocals giving the impression of some chained pitbull being taunted by a bunch of kittens just out of reach. Still, after a bit, ObZen as a whole reveals itself as this musical shifting machine that fascinates with its tight yet insanely off-kilter pacing.

Looking for catchy melodies in a Meshuggah release is like looking for unbridled guitar solos in a Renaissance album. Melody isn't their thing. But it's not to say that some of the basic riffs utilized aren't cool sounding. If you're in the right frame of mind for this sort of thing, the polyrhythmic patterns are astonishing and even a delight to focus on.

ObZen is a heavy as their immediate prior material, but there is also a nod to their earlier thrash-influenced days, particularly regarding opening cut "Combustion", which begins things on a high and furious note. Man, it was nice to hear something like that from them after such a long time wallowing in mid-tempo-ville. Other highlights are the propulsive, heavy "Bleed", the energetic "Pravus", and the album's best track, closer "Dancers To A Discordant System", which may be my favorite tune by them. There are vocal variances to start off with, which are much appreciated after such relentless high-registered toneless barking by the vocalist, and the tune's epic nature allows for a good scope of what this band represents in one tune, with some real heavy riffing combined with amazingly complex time- signatures. Again, don't expect a slew of fretboard histrionics, although theirs some layered atmospheric melodies and rather unusual guitar soloing.

This album and their breakthrough release Destroy, Erase, Improve usually trade off as my favorite by the band, with this album's overall heaviness and cold production giving ObZen a bit of an edge in achieving this monolithic factory-from-hell aura. Not every song works, as "Lethargica" does somewhat put me in a state of lethargy as it channels Nothing's more banal moments, but for the most part, when the mood arises for some chugging fury, ObZen is one of my main drugs.

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Send comments to Prog Sothoth (BETA) | Report this review (#932842) | Review Permalink
Posted Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Latest members reviews

5 stars THE HARDEST, MOST DEVISTATING ATTACK ON THE SENSES. Not gonna get too deep and crazy with this review because the music just speaks for itself. If you are a person who is looking for music with a crazy-hard edge to it, then youve found your band and your album OBZEN. This is the hardest music I' ... (read more)

Report this review (#842898) | Posted by progbethyname | Monday, October 22, 2012 | Review Permanlink

2 stars This is my first Meshuggah review. So, I can't compare this work with their earlier releases. Meshuggah plays technical riff based death metal. With riff based I mean Meshuggah is focused on technical riffs and not on dissonance chords or solo's. Therefor Meshuggah limits themselves within an ... (read more)

Report this review (#743598) | Posted by the philosopher | Tuesday, April 24, 2012 | Review Permanlink

3 stars I like to call OBZEN "The Very Average of Meshuggah", mostly because this album doesn't bring anything new to the band' sound and style. It's just kind of résumé of band' career since Destroy Erase Improve. And yes, I know that members of Meshuggah said that it's going to be a summary of their achie ... (read more)

Report this review (#306973) | Posted by bartosso | Thursday, October 28, 2010 | Review Permanlink

5 stars This, to my ears, is a superb album, although I can easily understand that it would get some less than favourable reviews. It is a fairly extreme sound, with heavy guitars and sometimes dizzying rhythms. It is not foot-tapping music in the conventional sense as you have often to do some counti ... (read more)

Report this review (#262408) | Posted by dmwilkie | Monday, January 25, 2010 | Review Permanlink

4 stars The sixth album from Meshuggah, obZen, is another curious experience. After the experimental Catch 33, the boys decided to to do somenting slightly more accessible, but this does not mean that they "sold out". The album is still crushingly heavy and somewhat experimental.The music here is like a com ... (read more)

Report this review (#256207) | Posted by idiotPrayer | Tuesday, December 15, 2009 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Ah, my second Meshuggah review. Ok, in my opinion this is probabbly there most human album, the songs are structured more, some of thr riffs could be used by other bands...and it would be ok, and the vocals sound perfect, not to growly and a very lyrical way of using the medium of growling to exp ... (read more)

Report this review (#248578) | Posted by arcane-beautiful | Saturday, November 07, 2009 | Review Permanlink

4 stars This is a nice album, but not fantastic. The technicality of the music is definetely top notch, and there's a definite Meshuggah sound through the whole thing. However, some of the stuff definetely sounds repetitive and has a lack of ideas. First off, Combustion has some great energy to it. G ... (read more)

Report this review (#182000) | Posted by topofsm | Sunday, September 07, 2008 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Wow!!!! This album is crazy!!! I love the track Bleed, unbelievable! The riffs, drumming, everything just made my mind go numb. I thought Catch 33 was very disappointing, but Obzen makes me very excited. Awesome stuff, I recommand getting this album. Meshuggah is BACK!!!! ... (read more)

Report this review (#172207) | Posted by Prog_Rocks | Sunday, May 25, 2008 | Review Permanlink

4 stars The most accessible album in the Meshuggah catalogue, this album is sure to win over hordes of mainstream fans. This is personally my favorite Meshuggah album to date, simply due to the strength of songwriting and composition. Every song is tastefully different from the last providing an album t ... (read more)

Report this review (#169957) | Posted by blue powder 777 | Monday, May 05, 2008 | Review Permanlink

3 stars Meshuggah is one hell of a noise machine, ear breaker and mind destroyer. However, this doesn't mean that they don't rock. But who says that rocking means making music? obZen is certainly an extreme metal album with a dose of originality being quite hardly attachable to any of the rigid genres ... (read more)

Report this review (#169562) | Posted by Zarec | Friday, May 02, 2008 | Review Permanlink

5 stars This album is worthy to be listened because will give to the listener a different opinion about the music generally. I know that isn't the first band who explores the music from the side of the rythm. However if you are searching for very strong riffs and you are not usual with meshuggah style I ... (read more)

Report this review (#167824) | Posted by kingofloss22 | Thursday, April 17, 2008 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Rating: A- With Meshuggah, you never really know what you'll get, except you do know it will be extraordinarily heavy. That's still true on Obzen, but you still can't expect much beyond that. This isn't like the more recent releases, such as I and Catch 33, in that it's a set of unrelated son ... (read more)

Report this review (#164210) | Posted by Pnoom! | Tuesday, March 18, 2008 | Review Permanlink

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