Words by Ezra La Vin
There are few black metal bands that manage to incorporate elements of other distant genres as successfully as Finland’s Oranssi Pazuzu. Strong elements of space rock, doom metal, seventies psychedelic music and heavy progressive metal are combined with a black metal approach in a manner that is coherent and very effective. In ‘Mestarin Kynsi’, Oranssi Pazuzu have defied all genre related labels and pigeon-holes to create a stunning album that is all at once eerie, dark, beautiful and disturbing.
Jun-His (vocals, guitar) says about their new album, “We definitely wanted to look for new horizons, but on the other hand continue something we began building already on ‘Värähtelijä’. Some big influences were electro albums that inspired an idea about having a song that would travel through different kinds of portals whilst being mutilated and mutated by the new environment.” This actually makes a lot of sense when listening to the album. There is a strong sense of forward, driving movement throughout each song as it morphs and swirls in psychedelic fashion, forging new moods and atmospheres along the way. Bass player Ontto describes their music as “A psychic storm that goes unexpectedly wild and colorful”.
Oranssi is Finnish for ‘Orange’, while Pazuzu is an ancient Babylonian demon who appears in ‘The Exorcist’. So Oranssi Pazuzu basically means ‘Orange Demon’ (insert Trump joke here!). The name of the album ‘Mestarin Kynsi’ translates to ‘The Master’s Claw’. All of the lyrics are sung in traditional black metal style in Finnish, so deciphering them is next to impossible for most English speaking people; however, if you treat vocals mostly as an important instrument rather than just a method to deliver memorable phrases in English, then you will have no trouble appreciating this work. Bassist Ontto describes the lyrical theme of the new record, “A dark master is rising. An illusionist, who uses secret knowledge to control the minds of the masses. A new totalitarian order is established and the heretics are silenced violently.”
Opening track Ilmestys begins the journey with a swirling and surging cyclical motif which builds by gradually adding layers of atmospheric elements like a droning, bending bass line, primal kick drum, quirky synth lines reminiscent of Rammstein and gurgling demonic vocals. A simmering, brooding section is established only to explode into a heavy doom riff with head spinning, kaleidoscope synth melodies inter-playing nicely. Tyhjyyden Sakramentti immerses the listener in a retro, sci-fi, space rock environment not too dissimilar to something Pink Floyd or Porcupine Tree may approve of. This world is then pulverised with intensity with driving momentum towards the abyss. A reprieve is offered to the listener but this soon transforms into another doom riff which swoops and smashes through all obstacles before more psychedelic synth melodies are added to propel the listener further within the dark, lysergic universe of Oranssi Pazuzu.
Album highlight Uusi Teknokratia is like a bad trip in an alien sideshow carnival. It is dizzying, with racing, tension building sections, unexpected twists and turns and an ominously droning, wall of sound outro. The fourth track, Oikeamielisten Sali features an eerie, resonating clean picking intro that is paired with violins that are twisted and detuned like a record being slowed down temporarily before being released. Tension is built in a disturbing manner before the song takes off with urgency toward brutal, raw vocals and finally a retro sounding prog conclusion. A spaceship through a surreal hellish universe.
Another standout track can be found with Kuulen Ääniä Maan Alta. The swirling, droning synth heavy theme is joined this time occasionally by a horn section which really gives a film noir soundtrack vibe. In fact this whole album is starting to sound like the theme music to a David Lynch film or perhaps a German expressionist film like ‘The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari’. The densely layered Taivaan Portti uses relentless, anxiety producing tremolo strumming, manic percussion and constantly rising synth textures to produce a dark crescendo that oozes with insanity and evil before evaporating into space.
This is a very strong album that is a rewarding, ground-breaking and visceral experience for those who seek experimental heavy music. At times this is challenging music with extreme elements that must be digested slowly with subsequent listens. The progressive song structures ensure that there are no choruses that are repeated, no comfortable refuge from the mind bending spaceship journey through psychedelic hell you are being taken on.
‘Mestarin Kynsi’ will be released on Friday, April 17th through Nuclear Blast Records and will be available as CD, vinyl and digital.
With thanks to Nuclear Blast