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ObZen (Nuclear Blast)


Meshuggah divides listeners. Some think the metal band's music all sounds the same; others are consistently surprised by its intricately played tech-thrash. Both sides have a point. There's little change from one Meshuggah album to the next. Practically every song builds on the same foundation of jackhammer drumming and percussive, cyclical guitar riffing, while mono-everything singer Jens Kidman barks over top of it all. It's what Meshuggah does with this limited palette that makes the music so interesting. Catch Thirtythree (from 2005) was almost unaccountably drab — especially following 2004's excellent I EP. ObZen is, in many ways, the same album as Thirtythree, minus the interconnecting segues. But it's far more engaging and memorable — proof that details indeed matter. And with this band, there are plenty of them. Meshuggah is at its best playing disorienting and crushingly heavy music at the same time, like it does in "Lethargica," "Pineal Gland Optics," and the nine-plus-minute closer, "Dancers to a Discordant System."

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