Since 1987, the Swedish band Meshuggah has been inducting their listeners into some of the most intense, surreal and brash soundscapes to be concocted from a standard five-piece-band line-up. Their new album Obzen is no exception to the attributes that diehard fans have come to admire in this prestigious band.
Drummer Thomas Haake said he wanted this album to be a return to the band’s roots, which means heavier, faster, louder and somewhat more straightforward than their previous album Catch Thirty Three. But don’t worry; the distinctive polyrhythms and intense syncopations are still here.
A return to Meshuggah’s past can be found in the song “Bleed.” It’s reminiscent of a lot of speed metal and thrash metal. The chug-a-lug guitars and double-bass drumming are in sync for the majority of the song, making this one of the most intense Meshuggah songs to date.
The album’s opener “Combustion” sounds like a track off the band’s 1998 album Chaosphere. “Combustion” proceeds in a straightforward fashion, as far as Meshuggah tunes go, and the meter of the entire song is in four.
“Pravus” sounds a little like what Dillinger Escape Plan would sound like if you slowed them down to half-speed. Actually, it’s similar to what instrumental band Behold...The Arctopus would sound like with a lead singer. Don’t try deciphering this song, though. Side effects would include head-splitting migraines, bleeding ears and feelings of musical incompetence.
The coup de grace “Dancers to a Discordant System” is a 10-minute-long epic with all the confections of a typical Meshuggah song. The intro begins with a moaning guitar and is eventually overtaken by a spastic, machine-like riff which becomes a main theme throughout the entire piece.
The title of this album and the concept behind it sum up exactly what Meshuggah seems to aim for with their music. Haake said that the title comes from “mankind finding calm and inner peace and peace of mind through the obscene.”