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  • ObZen
  • Customer reviews

Customer reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5 stars
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on 17 May 2017
You need this album
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on 7 March 2008
Unlike previous reviewers, I do not possess sufficient technical music knowledge to dazzle you with science, so here is my purely subjective experience:

First off if you're not familiar with Meshuggah check out some samples...they're not for the faint hearted. Meshuggah defy categorisation they are totally unique and don't fit into any particular genre comfortably...

As with every Meshuggah album Obzen is incredibly precise and structured and yet chaotic and multifaceted at the same time! In parts the instruments are out of synch with one another(polyrhythmic) and this feels like my mind is being pulled in eight different directions simultaneously!

Tempos vary from break neck speed to slow melodic passages that are laden with a sinister menacing undertone. Vocals are the same as all previous albums, somewhere between a death metal growl and hardcore shout, they're very sharp and laced with vitriol and spite.

Personally, I feel Obzen is more aggressive and energetic than Catch 33 but falls short of Chaosphere. Nonetheless it is a very intense album that demands a lot of energy and focus to fully appreciate.

Overall, as a Meshuggah fan I very much like the album, and recommend to other Meshuggah fans and those who want a unique metal experience to fragment and shatter their sanity!

Words elude me to adequately describe the off kilter, ultra precise madness that is Meshuggah's latest offering Obzen...
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on 1 June 2008
Listening to obZen for the upteenth time, a though strikes me; Meshuggah really dont seem like the type to conform to anyone's wishes at all, let alone their fans. So it's even more of a surprise that this album seems to be a collection and summonation of the band's ever-shifting career to date.

The neo-thrash of 'Combustion' is a welcome return to pace and about as straight-forward a song as the band has ever done, dripping in poise and speed. 'Lethargica' and 'Electric Red' harken back to the alternative groove (if you can call it that) of Catch 33 and the album's title track harkens back to the Nothing era. Yes, obZen is definitely a unique proposition in that it never really settles for one style or mood, instead going for multiple tempo shifts and swings.

It's an odd choice for a band that tends to have a specific sound for each album to find them now embracing diversity, but each of the 9 songs present a different side to the Meshuggah personality without any real repitition or dragging. The band are still as delightfully inventive, crushing and heavy as they've always been, and obZen can stand as a summination and celebration of their career so far, whilst at the same time offering a perfect introduction for new fans to get their teeth into. A great piece of modern metal.
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on 25 March 2014
I've been waiting very impatiently for Mastodon's new album, due out very soon, and I was always getting recommendations for Meshuggah, a band I've heard of for a long time but have paid no attention to. So I decided to see which album was worth sampling and found myself bewildered by reviews on here. They have some serious, opinionated fans. They were divided over whether Catch 33 or Nothing was the best, but then when you looked at reviews for those albums, they were divided over whether earlier albums like Chaosphere or Destroy Erase Improve were the best. And if you read the reviews for the latest ones, ObZen and Koloss, you got a lot of grumbling about how they weren't as good as...Catch 33, etc, etc.
So I listened to the samples and the production sound for ObZen sounded best, and the bass drums on BLEED sounded thrilling. So I started there. I don't really have a big review, despite the foregoing. I like em. They demand patience. They agitate me and demand my concentration. They are definitely not background music that you can tune in and out of. They have made a lot of my previously enjoyed music boring. Mastodon had that effect too, but this even more so. They have also made some of it better too, some things I had not appreciated as much as I do now.
Anyway, I am still getting to know this album, and since then have downloaded Catch 33 and Koloss, both of which are very good. Koloss is more like ObZen. Catch 33 is a different...I listen to that quite a lot.
So if you're like me a few weeks ago and don't know where the hell to start, I don't know what to recommend to you. Maybe ObZen or Catch 33. The production on ObZen is phenomenal. Catch 33 is more hypnotic and more of a 'journey'. ObZen is an album of songs.
You can listen to the most of the full albums on YouTube.
I am pleased I know this band now, or at least am getting to know them.

I initially gave this four stars but I've had to upgrade it to five. This is now my favourite Meshuggah album (I own them all now) and one of my favourite albums generally. To me, this is a flawless album and I love the clear production which really brings out the fantastic tones. It is rare to have an album where you like every track, and this is one of them. My favourite tracks are Combustion, Bleed, Lethargica, Pineal Glad Optics and Dancers to a Discordant System. But they are all very good.
I mentioned in the original portion of my review that I also had Catch 33. This is one of their very best, and is an extraordinary record. Koloss is good, but the production suffers from over-compression. A real shame, especially as it follows the beautiful production of ObZen. All the other albums are certainly worth checking out, and I have to say that it was when I started listening to Nothing that I finally began to 'understand' Meshuggah.
As for the 'agitation' I used to feel listening to these complicated pieces, that has faded away with familiarity and each album becomes easier and more enjoyable to listen to and learn. I would expect that fans of Metallica and Tool might like this band...they were heavily influenced by Metallica (they sound exactly like them on their first album) and I believe they were an influence to Tool...anyway, this is my favourite album of one of my new favourite bands. If you are contemplating getting into them, enjoy the journey!
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on 6 April 2008
I've never listened to Meshuggah before and i purchased this album on the strength of some good reviews in the music press. On first listen i was impressed with how heavy it was, on second listen i was hooked and repeated listens after this i was totally blown away. I then went straight out and bought every other album they have ever done and i've got to say they just dont compare to this. Sure you can see how they got here, but beleive me when i say that this is the true pinnacle of their career so far, both the much lauded Destroy Erase Improve and the so called masterpiece Chaosphere simply dont compare to this. Dont get me wrong they are both great albums and deserve their acclaim but Obzen is just so much more. If like me you've never heard them before but love heavy music then you simply have to have this record, but dont be fooled into thinking the older albums will be as good. Just stick to this one and all the others that follow. If you dont beleive how good this record is then just listen to the song Pineal Gland Optics and at around 1/2 way through meshuggah will prove to you just how amazing they are. Heavy music doesn't come any better than this. Enjoy!!!
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on 15 February 2008
Continuing on from 2005's immense yet rather sterile sounding `Catch thirtythree33', Meshuggah continue forth with their unique brand of mathematical sledgehammer-core, seeking to cement their status as tech-metal overlords. Although the band have stated on previous interviews "that `obZen' will be a collective return to the band's past works, signaling a shift in direction away from their previous math metal-laden effort, Catch thirtythree33", it does not completely veer away from this sound. Upon initial listens, `obZen' instead proves to be a tempestuous display of jagged tech-metal gone into overdrive. Tightly clustered drum and bass clusters drop incessantly like some kind of infinite sonic grenade attack, whilst lead guitar melodies tend to launch off sporadically into warped neo-prog territory. The guitarists, Thordendal and Hagström utilise custom-made Nevborn, and custom Ibanez eight string guitars which add two low strings to allow the manically crushing riffs to be played in even lower registers. Each individual instrument is slightly out-of-sync and attempts to force itself in a different direction, only to end up creating a fully rounded and complimentary end-product which is teaming with molten-energy. Consecutive listens however reveal the depth of the album as `obZen' does indeed return Meshuggah back to their song-writing core, and then some! As well as producing a warmer and more captivating sound, they display a keen sense of (mutated) melody and matured arrangement, to create a consistently forceful album that keep the listener captive and engaged at all times.

Throughout the release, angular instruments collide in an accelerated and frenzied fashion, continuously wearing down any defense the listener may attempt to put up and pounding them into submission. The turbulent drum, guitar and bass swirls seem like they are almost looped (which is a formidable skill in itself) but they move progressively across the sci-fi terrain in such an endearing and almost hallucinating manner that it is difficult to resist anything other than diving head first into the sound and nodding your head like a schizoid. Jens Kidman abrasive throat-work is delivered with real menace and is consistent in its delivery which really fits in with the musical soundscape, although some listeners may be turned off due to the lack of variation and human emotion.

On the 7minute single, "Bleed", the group open with razor sharp machine-gun riffage whilst guitar and bass motifs meander across the scales to provide perpetual energy to the track. This theme continues throughout with subtle variations in both arrangement and tempo creating real buoyancy to proceedings. After threatening to do so for the last 5 minutes, the guitars finally move into an Opeth-esque proggy black-metal workout towards the end before being reigned back into an ultra satisfying tech-metal stomp.

Sounding similar to an irate KNUT at their most visceral, "Pineal Gland Optics" grinds incessantly on a bed of psyched-out guitar waft before launching into a pounding sub-machine gun riffathon. Probably the masterpiece of the album, `Pravus' sees Meshuggah waste no time in setting upon the listener with a frenzy of jazzed-out, tech-metal mayhem resulting in a really ugly, dissonant soundscape of inside-out metal hurtling towards you at a breakneck speed. On the lengthy "Dancers to a Discordant System", Meshuggah move towards heavy-rock territory with a cryptic and dark offering that moves throughout a number of genres. Initially, creepy vocals crawl under your skin whilst the drunkenly arranged psyche-rock/metal soundscape will leave you seasick and dazed. The track then moves into more familiar territory with the grinding metal taking prime position over the rock elements and the vocals moving back into a harsh satisfying yelp. The finale then sees the band move into a satisfying Nile-esque, metalized prog-work which acts as a great closing passage for this album.

Tech-metal can tend to be suffocating in that it can be a show of instrumental dexterity over melodic composition. As mentioned above, `Catch thirtythree 33' did suffer from this but there are no such problems with `obZen'. Although consistently hammering in its delivery, listeners will never be left jaded as, refreshingly, the tracks on `obZen' never lie dormant. Just as you think you've figured out a passage or you've locked-in to a groove, they immediately switch into pastures fresh (and usually far more heavy). Their sheer technical prowess is a force to be reckoned with and will leave you enthralled for years to come, but more poignant is their ability to fuse genres. `obZen' succeeds in recapturing the glory of mid-90's math-metal, molding it effortlessly with stylistic elements of grindcore, noisecore, neo-prog, heavy-psychedelica and math-rock and reshaping it into something entirely their own. This release will be one of the strongest metal releases of 2008, it will be a future classic and it will elevate Meshuggah to the position of tech-metal overlords. (KS)

For fans of: KNUT, Burn It Down, Red Chord, Ion Dissonance
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on 16 March 2008
Quite honestly, despite what many people may begin to say about this album or even this review, I can easily say that this is Meshuggah's best recorded work to date coming very close with Catch 33 and I. It's an album that, like all of their previous offerings, has to be truly paid attention to in order to reach a true level of understanding of it. Opening track 'Combustion' really sets you in place for what the rest of the album is going to be with certainly no shortage of insanity or pure heavyness. There is no doubt that Meshuggah are doing something new with obZen but that certainly does not mean by any means that it's bad.

To make a long story short, obZen is quite simply perfect and you can thank your lucky stars that the Meshuggah boys aren't gonna stop there.
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on 3 May 2008
I'm just writing this because there seem to be a lot of negative reviews. No this album isn't as complex as Catch 33 or I, but both of those albums I appreciated rather than enjoyed. You can't fault their technicality and experimentation, but in the past I've found that I 'appreciate' meshuggah more than enjoy them. This album blows that idea out of the water. I think the band have done the next logical thing. they had taken experimentation as far as it could go, and have now stripped back (a little bit) to produce an album that is both technical, but has hooks, melodies. For once it sounds easy to play (even though it is just as awkward as anything they have previously done) and rather than sounding like a drum machine on random, it grooves. This could well be the metal album of the year because they have pulled off the phenomenal trick of making their hugely technical and experimental music groove. You can take all the experimentation in the world, but once you blend it with groove you really have hit the holy grail and that's what Meshuggah have done on this album. Basically, it's awesome!
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on 8 October 2011
A listener might wonder why Jens Kidman, the singer of Meshuggah, is so angry. But when you take the time to study the actual meaning of this wonderful album you quickly realise that the amount of anger you can hear in his voice is fully justified. This album portrays humanity as something soulsick to the point of death. Instead of attaining samadhi, the mystical oneness that is the goal of all religion - a state that is often referred to in the Westernised use of the term 'zen' - we have embraced the obscene as our goal. Obscene/Zen = ObZen. It is sometimes easy to forget just how obscene are our times, but look with objective eyes at contemporary reality: 'preemptive' war(s), state assassination and torture, mass extinction, economic collapse, the vast majority of our species living in poverty, control of the world's wealth by 1% of the population etc. The majority of humankind, were it to awaken to these truths, could conceivably unite and reject all of this in a single decision. Humankind could decide, en masse, to make fundamental changes that would stem the tide of 'our ruin, our doom'. But what do we do instead? We embrace the banal. We cherish our ignorance. We celebrate stupidity. We sponsor the system that is destroying us. We even vote for politicians who speak in simplistic sentences and who we know will wage further unjustified wars that will bankrupt our state. To quote the final song from this album, we dance along to a 'discordant system:' 'We dance to appease/compete in stupidity.' That is, our compliance with the system is an act of appeasement. When we allow airport staff to force us to drink baby milk to prove that it is not an explosive we are 'competing in stupidity.'

ObZen is an extremely valuable piece of art that portrays the relationship between individuals (often called 'souls' in this album) and the reality that we live in. It is breathtakingly, painfully honest about the corruption of our contentment. In the first song, Combustion, the lyrics invite us to 'stare, see, take in, grasp/comprehend, assimilate/behold your reflection.' The androgynous character on the front of the album thinks itself content, but is actually doused in blood.

So horrible is the true nature of our fake contentment, inebriated with debt, that any musical portrayal of this reality must reflect the ugliness. Everything in this album works perfectly to enhance the acuity of this portrayal.

And yet Meshuggah have achieved their goal so well that they actually transcend their message. The opening riff has an exquisite sound and the polyrhythmic entry of the drums is so satisfying that one cannot fail to experience deep satisfaction upon hearing this. The entire album is one of beautifully rendered rage, a rage that continues with limitless variety throughout the tracks. It is perfect. After understanding what the album is about I have continued to listen, again and again, because on a purely musical level I find this so exciting and beautiful.

It is necessary for all GCSE-age children to study this album and its meaning. My hope is that their brainwashed preconceptions, making them 'so meticulously machined/into these obedient devices', might more easily be shattered after they listen. And then, haply, they might ask 'Why?' And 'what next?'
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on 3 May 2011
Really hard to describe the Meshuggah music, is so complex. But listening their pieces I think to a word, resuming their music, but it's seem so hard to use a word like this: swing. Swing?????? Yes, their structure, their complexity, their violent sounds in the end are ..... swinging. Obviously I use swing not in the "technical" terms, but in the end I feel in a way similar to the listening to an orchestra of a swing era. All is fluent, groovy, your leg are slightly moving, but in the same time Meshuggah are creating an intricate rhythm, screamin, and shooting notes in your ear.
Obviously I'm exagerating, but every time I read about Meshuggah the complexity is emphasized, but the greatness of this group is that every single moment is grooving.
I love this group, all their album but every album is better than the previous one. And Frederck Thorendal is so creative, is solo are dramatic, sweet, evocative, one of the most creative guitarist.
Listen it before you buy, Meshuggah are not simple, but feel the groove, then mind about the complexity.
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