Meshuggah - obZen
Nuclear Blast
Meshuggah Metal
9 songs (52:27)
Release year: 2008
Meshuggah, Nuclear Blast
Reviewed by Goat
Album of the month

Up until now, I have been what you might call a Meshuggah fanboy. From the moment I impulse-bought Contradictions Collapse, to the repeated plays of 2005’s masterpiece Catch Thirtythree, nothing that the Swedish legends has produced has been less than perfect. Here was an intelligent Metal band that could produce challenging music without being afraid of a bit of headbanging along the way, striking a balance between mind and body that’s all too rare even today.

This all changed about a month ago when I first laid eyes on the artwork for the band’s new album, a tasteless tableau of a naked man smeared with blood. Leaving the whole issue of whether it is or isn’t computer generated out of it, the fact remains that it was dreadful then, it’s dreadful now, and it will continue to be dreadful every time you set eyes upon it. For the first time, Meshuggah has done something that is less than incredible, and the resulting psychological damage is harsh. It’s like your first day at school as a child, the sheer ‘how could they do it to me?’ horror of being abandoned with strangers, of realising that your parents aren’t the all-loving godheads that you thought they were. Idols never turn out to be perfect, and the same is as true of Metal bands as it is of people…

Yet boy oh boy, do Meshuggah make up for it! Playing obZen is as kickass an experience the tenth time as it is the first, everything that made you love the band before present and correct, with a few little tweaks here and there to keep the core of the sound as progressive as ever. It’s impossible not to be excited the moment that you hear the first few Tool-influenced chords of Thrashy opener Combustion, and that excitement is rewarded. After the first listen you’ll be declaring it the band’s best album to date, so immediate and compelling is the musical content of this album, not just in an experimental, polyrhythmic sense but also in a straight-up Metal sense. If you can resist that central pounding riff to Bleed, if you can sit and listen without banging your fucking head like it’s 1995 again and you’re hearing Future Breed Machine for the first time, well, there’s a serious shortage of steel in your spine.

Whether it’s the note-perfect pummelling of Electric Red, or the appropriately sludgy Lethargica, obZen is excellent. There’s not a thing wrong with the music that is contained herein, and although at first I was slightly disappointed that this wasn’t Catch Fortyfour, once you give the songs time to work their way into your subconscious, once the initial catchiness is past, you realise that there’s as much depth as ever, if not moreso, to the nine songs which make up obZen.

It’d be pointless to try and explain the twists and turns of this album to someone who hasn’t heard it, much like explaining an elephant to a blind man. If you’ve listened to and enjoyed what the band has produced up until now, you’ll love obZen, guaranteed. If, on the other hand, you’re one of the stubborn few that doesn’t get it, this will change your mind. Meshuggah is, as ever, a mile above the competition, pointing the way to the stars, and the future of Metal as we know it rests firmly in the band’s hands. Really, would we want it any other way?

Killing Songs :
Combustion, Electric Red, Bleed, obZen, Pineal Gland Optics, Pravus, Dancers To A Discordant System
Goat quoted 90 / 100
Other albums by Meshuggah that we have reviewed:
Meshuggah - The Violent Sleep of Reason reviewed by Goat and quoted 90 / 100
Meshuggah - Koloss reviewed by Goat and quoted 87 / 100
Meshuggah - Alive CD/DVD reviewed by Goat and quoted no quote
Meshuggah - Destroy Erase Improve reviewed by Goat and quoted CLASSIC
Meshuggah - Contradictions Collapse & None reviewed by Goat and quoted 89 / 100
To see all 10 reviews click here
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