Oranssi Pazuzu

Mestarin Kynsi

Written by: AP on 14/01/2021 14:02:28

If you have not heard of Oranssi Pazuzu by now, you have not been paying attention. The Finnish mystics have been on everyone’s lips since 2016, when they dropped their mind-bending fourth studio album “Värähtelijä” and put the country’s burgeoning avant-garde rock and metal scene, centered around Svart Records, on the map once and for all. And in the process, the torchbearers became such a hot topic themselves that a more established international distribution network was required if this latest album of theirs, “Mestarin Kynsi”, were to reach the growing number of people around the world thirsting for a taste of their psychedelic black metal alchemy — hence their signing with the iconic Nuclear Blast in 2019. It is far from a typical release from that label, however, as even by Oranssi Pazuzu’s own standards, this unnerving kaleidoscope of sonic aberrations sounds completely demented.

Most people are unaware of the fact that every member of Oranssi Pazuzu was once part of the obscure space rock band Kuolleet Intiaanit, yet knowing this is vital to understanding where the free-wheeling, bad acid trip style explored on “Mestarin Kynsi” derives from. When that band was dissolved in 2008, the five musicians had acquired a taste for the hypnotic, and wanted to combine that with rawer and more sinister elements, and if you listen closely to “Värähtelijä” and especially this latest offering from Oranssi Pazuzu, this is exactly what the music now sounds like: blackened krautrock. The band has never been more loosely tethered to black metal than on “Mestarin Kynsi”, with dark ambient, psychedelic rock and avant-garde jazz taking up as much of the soundscape as their signature metallic spasms — and yet the music remains as grim and unsettling as ever. There is nothing quite like a tense, clean guitar repeating the same few, eerie notes over and over on top of an ominously wavering bass line, as strange synth keys and other electronic effects flicker in the background like signals from outer space if you want to build up tension. And if you then added some absolutely heinous growls that seem to be simultaneously in and out of sync with the rhythm to it… well, then you would have something so creepy you would rather not listen to it alone in the dark. You would have “Ilmestys”, the opening track on Oranssi Pazuzu’s latest outing.

It sets the tone for the rest of the album, which honestly plays like the five musicians’ personal idea of hell; not fire and brimstone and cries of agony — but an asylum of broken mirrors, flaring strobe lights and psychological torment. Songs like “Tyhjyyden sakramentti” and “Uusi teknokratia” evoke this constant feeling that something is very wrong, yet like a disposable character in a horror movie, one is drawn to it in a trancelike state. This is not happenstance; it seems to be the desired effect of Toni ‘Ontto’ Hietamäki’s bass playing, which takes on a smooth and undulating, dreamlike character that slowly brings the listener into the band’s thrall, before the rest of the musicians eventually spaz out in a swirling tempest of startling metallic psychedelia. Perhaps the best example of this formula is heard on the standout “Kuulen ääniä maan alta”, which kicks off as a relatively chill, albeit bizarre piece of krautrock complete with a motorik beat by drummer Jarkko ‘Korjak’ Salo. But as the seconds tick by, guitarist Juho ‘Jun-His’ Vanhanen’s growls turn less and less human, the layers of guitar and synth effects turn increasingly volatile, and eventually the track explodes into an absolute rager of a black metal disco, before collapsing onto itself and leaving just chiming ambience behind. It is an outrageous piece of music that makes you want to engage in some kind of witching dance ritual, which again underlines the fact that while their music is certainly rooted in black metal, Oranssi Pazuzu is a uniquely transcendental band with little regard for the norms and traditions of that genre. And the metal scene is made all the richer by the presence of such visionaries.

If the group’s antics in the aforementioned “Kuulen ääniä maan alta” are not sufficiently mental for you, however, there is also the closing track “Taivaan portti” to bend your mind with. It is the musical equivalent of Edvard Munch’s famous painting “The Scream”; a cacophony of frenetic snare and hi-hat strikes, and atonal guitar shredding that seems to loop endlessly like a spiral hypnotic illusion. Droplets of spectral synth seem to fall upon the maelstrom at random, while the deranged growls of Jun-His and Ontto erupt from it like solar flares, tugging and tearing at its fickle fabric until the song seems to just… fall apart, leaving behind it an empty ambient hum, as though the universe itself had ceased to exist. It delivers the perfect finale to a capricious album, one that continues to reveal new aspects of itself even after countless listening sessions. And as such, it embodies the philosophy of Oranssi Pazuzu as a band as well: never tread water, always push the envelope, keep your fans on their toes. So if “Värähtelijä” was a far-fetched black metal album and this latest offering “Mestarin kynsi” is nothing short of otherworldly, just imagine what the eventual sixth album from these Finnish alchemists is going to sound like… Until then, do yourself a favour and rewind “Mestarin kynsi” back to the start, and give one of 2020’s very best albums another deserving listen — it is guaranteed to challenge, surprise and scare you every time.


Download: Tyhjyyden sakramentti, Uusi teknokratia, Oikeamielisten sali, Kuulen ääniä maan alta
For the fans of: A Forest of Stars, Hail Spirit Noir, Nachtmystium, Waste of Space Orchestra
Listen: Facebook

Release date 17.04.2020
Nuclear Blast

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