Sweden's Meshuggah have been around for so many years and released so many impressive discs of tricky extreme metal, it would be easy to take for granted what they've achieved as a group. These meticulous craftsman — they all could have been watchmakers in another life — showed the metal world a new way to marry virtuoso musicianship with brute strength and the solid, satisfying riffs that propped up the genre even during the nu-metal nightmare years. Their inventions have been fast and thrilling, and you never get the impression while listening to this highly structured, highly visceral band that you're being subjected to technical wankery for wankery's sake.
This is doubly true of their sixth full-length, obZen, an album that is brutal and emotional from start to finish, while still retaining the graceful jazz-like rhythmic and tonal touches that have made Meshuggah so unique. obZen rewards the patient headbanger willing to follow the group's twists and devious turns. But also, it just kicks ass. The organic combination of the cerebral with the physical is what makes an album like obZen — and a band like Meshuggah — so formidable.