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I was fortunate enough to hear an advance copy of ObZen, and I must say it is a stunning album! Meshuggah seem to have collated their styles from all their previous albums and out of the metal madness has come a rich, diverse and interesting album, one that will be instantly familiar to the Meshuggah fan, yet somehow bringing something new.
ObZen contains elements of all Meshuggahs' previous work: The heavy thrashiness of their earlier albums, combined with the more technical and progressive style of their later ones, with the always recognisable vocal qualities of Jens Kidman angrily yelling out the lyrics over the top of the insanity. We still have the driving riffs of albums like "I" and "Chaosphere" and the relentless drumming that seems to permeate every album. We have the wonderful technically complex guitar solos that are prevalent in many of their albums, and we have the pure heavy metal feel that runs the whole way through the album.
Some might claim that using styles from previous works is not progressive and that it doesn't move the band anywhere. I would argue that Meshuggah are good enough, both instrumentally and in their thinking to create a new sound from the old - they have taken aspects of things that work and formed a fantastic new sound. This sound, while obviously Meshuggahs, can still surprise and thrill.
As many Meshuggah fans will know, their name is a Hebrew word for "crazy" and while no-one needs reminding of the fact that the band lives up to this name in every aspect of their music, ObZen once again reminds us that Meshuggah can be muscially brilliant whilst being chaotic, crazy and always unexpected.