Review Summary: jumbled thrash meets a robot
Opening with a salvo of chunky riffs likely to decimate your face while also likely to leave you dazed in a bored state and completely unmoved, Obzen is another calculated affair by the Swedish math/thrash/whatever outfit. While the band has gone through miraculous efforts to keep themselves alive and give themselves fresh inspiration, all in all the band's hilarious failure comes down to the fact that their diversity is merely chugging in "complex" time signatures with unforgivably monotone vocals and the occasional extraneous keyboard part. Although the band has written interesting past albums, their latest foray into tech-chug is as dull as possible.
If there was ever a flatter, duller, more tragically robotic vocal presentation given off than by Meshuggah’s desperately flailing lead singer, the album itself would just be a computer program; calculated, predictable and unwavering when it comes to following rules. Perhaps, then, that is why Obzen feels so familiar and so repetitive; it’s just the same rhythm over and over. If you’ve ever truly wondered how Meshuggah come up with their time signatures, you’re wasting your time; just roll a pair of dice against a wall and multiply each side by 3. Obzen is no different, offering the same "chaotic" contrived rhythms and notes that every other release they have put out has contained, with almost no differentiation and a boring production so disgracefully uninteresting I’m surprised the producer didn’t fall asleep while he was editing it. With 9 tracks and an overbearing 52 minute runtime, it’s surprising amidst the chugfest that they didn’t come up with at least one scarcely interesting idea. At this point, they are completely recycling concepts; any so-called “innovation” is just a pitifully desperate grasp at past glory.
The melodies are uninteresting, often with attempts at dissonance to make up for the fact at how boring they are; the rhythm is the same on every single song, made even more unforgivable by having exactly the same structure every single song and the same monotonous robotic vocal delivery every single song. The bassist is absolutely nowhere to be heard, but if he could be heard, he’d be just as recycled as everything else. The only part of this album that doesn’t seem to repeat itself over and over is the drumming, which is a hysterical irony considering that most drummers tend to play the same rhythm over and over. Tomas Haake, as always, impresses behind his kit, playing leagues above his contemporaries and band mates when seemingly all hope is gone. Truly, if the man had not rejoined the band prior to the release of this album, it’s quite safe to presume Obzen would have collapsed inwards on itself like a pitiful metallic neutron star.
The promise and talent this band has is inarguable and the complete waste of it unforgivable. If the band cannot comprise a series of riffs and notes that sounds vaguely interesting, perhaps they should go be math teachers, where they can be boring, monotone, repetitive, and benefit society as a whole. Obzen manages nothing greater than being a encore to everything else they’ve ever made, but when you consider that it’s the encore to album after album of recycled chug, you begin to realize why this reviewer was not surprised in the least.
Fun to lose your hearing to but not fun to hear.