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Meshuggah: Obzen

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Meshuggah's dense, polyrhythmic roar elevates math-metal artisanship to such insane heights, the Swedish group often builds new ceilings just to smash through them. With 2005's Catch Thirtythree, the band delivered a suite of sampled drums and multi-tracked guitars so complex that it couldn't replicate the album live. With the follow-up, however, Meshuggah revisits its core tools to push even harder.


Returned to the drummer's chair, Tomas Haake puts his sampled kit to shame throughout obZen. He sends beats ricocheting against Fredrik Thordendal and Mårten Hagström's angular guitar interplay in "Combustion," punctuates "Bleed"'s riff barrages with bass-pedal exclamation points, and works a hi-hat in slow motion while his other limbs thrash the kit in "Pravus." Even the album's rare subdued moments (the Red-era King Crimson-ish "Dancers To A Discordant System"), as well as Jens Kidman's terminally unsubtle vocals, serve a rhythmic higher power. The result challenges brain and body, sure (just try headbanging to obZen), but it also dares any other metal band to write a more ferocious album.