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Meshuggah: Obzen

Old 03-17-08, 07:46 AM
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Meshuggah: Obzen

The inimitable math/technical/drone metal band returns for their sixth full length. I've had it on repeat for about the past two weeks.

Their last album (EP?) was the very experimental and polarizing "Catch Thirty-Three". On that album, their justifyably famous, octopus-like drummer and main songwriter, Tomas Haake, programmed a sampled drumset. He returns to live performance on this one. Apparently, the band spent months in the studio making Obzen, polishing every aspect of the music, making it tighter and more compressed. The attention to detail shows. Long story short, this is my favorite thing they've ever done and I've been a fan for a long time.

Obzen seems at first glance to be a return to slightly more conventional song structures of albums like Chaosphere. The hyper-technical polyrhythmic riffing and Escher-like, hypnotic patterns of Nothing and Catch Thirty Three remain, but the tempos are faster and the songs have defined beginnings and endings.

Each track features its own take on the trademark Meshuggah sound. "Bleed" is among the most punishing, banging metal tracks I've ever heard. I don't think any other metal band approaches that level of ferocity, I don't think anyone else could even perform it. I have my doubts that Haake could replicate the song live. "Pineal Gland Optics" (WTF?) is the album's high point for me, though. Haake and the two eight-string guitars work themselves in a completely insane, off kilter pattern that sounds like a broken machine beating itself to pieces. It's a claustrophobic and dense masterpiece, IMO.

The key to understanding Meshuggah for me is realizing that they're not really a metal band. I read someone online comparing then to minimalist, glitchy IDM like Autechre and I think that's a better comparison. They're deliberately amelodic and intellectualized and that will probably turn off many metal fans. I can't think of another metal band (maybe Dillinger Escape Plan a few albums ago) that come close to Meshuggah's approach. This is a chance to hear a band with an absolutely unique sound at the height of their powers.

Last edited by Hiro11; 03-20-08 at 07:32 AM.
Old 03-17-08, 05:00 PM
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Just downloaded it from eMusic but haven't gotten to listen to it yet.

Samples sounded awesome though!!
Old 03-17-08, 05:53 PM
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I've definitely been looking forward to picking this one up.
I didn't realize it had already come out. I'm going to have to stop by a cd store tomorrow.

Last edited by edclem; 03-18-08 at 12:37 PM.
Old 03-17-08, 11:52 PM
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This is their best album since "Destroy Erase Improve".
Old 03-18-08, 08:44 AM
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Originally Posted by Thrush
This is their best album since "Destroy Erase Improve".
I like it because it mixes the punishing power of Chaosphere and DEI while incorporating the hypnotic 8 string drone and boundary pushing of Nothing and Catch 33. It's clear that was the band's intent and I think it perfectly splits the difference.

One other point: this album is endlessly relistenable to me. Lots of detail in there. Favorite track today: "Pravus"
Old 03-18-08, 11:51 AM
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just got this last night - it kills, of course.
i've been listening to catch thirtythr33 a lot lately, so musically this came as a nice surprise with the sort of mix of older and newer stuff.

ministry should be opening for meshuggah.
Old 03-19-08, 03:43 PM
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Originally Posted by Hiro11
I like it because it mixes the punishing power of Chaosphere and DEI while incorporating the hypnotic 8 string drone and boundary pushing of Nothing and Catch 33. It's clear that was the band's intent and I think it perfectly splits the difference.

One other point: this album is endlessly relistenable to me. Lots of detail in there. Favorite track today: "Pravus"
Hypnotic describes their music quite well, especially their album releases starting with Nothing. While I understand the necessity for programmed drums on Catch Thirtythree it is great to have Tomas Haake -- the man, the myth, the legend -- back in the drummer's seat. obZen is an introspective look at Meshuggah's past, present, and future and I enjoy listening to this album again and again.
Old 03-20-08, 03:58 AM
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Definitely liking what I have heard so far.
Old 03-20-08, 01:30 PM
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I got around to picking it up last night.

Damn.

This is possibly the most dense, punishing album I've ever heard. They've certainly raised the bar on this one. I've only been through it a couple of times now, but I think it might just be my new favorite Meshuggah album. As others have said, there are elements from basically their entire library here, but expressed in a completely new way.

I really wish that they were coming through here on their upcoming tour......AND WERE HEADLINING. I caught them on both the Chaosphere (opening for Tool) and Nothing (headlining) tours. Absolutely fricking amazing.
Old 03-20-08, 04:26 PM
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I remember hearing about these guys a few years back and picked up Chaosphere and was utterly amazed. I don't normally listen to this genre of music often, but I picked up the new one a couple of days ago and its simply stunning. A lot to take in, but I'm about halfway through it. Hopefully the album generates enough demand to bring them back to the states as a headliner. No way should these guys have to open for anybody.
Old 03-20-08, 06:16 PM
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Heard the first three songs. Good stuff as usual, but the kick drum impact and low end in general seems lacking compared to previous stuff.

I also smile every time I hear one of those low F# riffs - what's the point of having a bass there I wonder.
Old 03-20-08, 10:06 PM
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Originally Posted by bunkaroo
I also smile every time I hear one of those low F# riffs - what's the point of having a bass there I wonder.
All hail the 8 string!
Old 04-06-08, 11:06 PM
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Hated "Nothing" as well as "Catch Thirty-Three"

Love this album. I already have it as one of my favorite albums of 08' so far.
Old 04-07-08, 12:00 AM
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Honestly? What a piece of shit. Sorry folks, the one and the only track that I liked was "Bleed". Yes, that track is a classic but the rest of the album is so so.

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