Inspired by the majesty of the cosmos, Oranssi Pazuzu kicks black metal purists to the curb and takes the rest of us space-truckin’ on a surreal, progressive odyssey with Värähtelijä.
Sucking you in black hole-style right from the start, “Saturaatio” wastes no time unleashing the first of the album’s countless hypnotic grooves—and you will move to them all. Showcasing an exquisite rise-and-fall riff, simple tribal beat, wah-wah guitar solo, driving organs, and anguished howls, it’s a jaw-dropping 12 minutes that encapsulates all the beauty and horror of an incoming, earth-obliterating meteorite.
Things move on to quieter planes, where the atmosphere rolls thick with meditative ambience. The spooky, vibraphone-driven “Lahja” boils with repetitive, minimalistic guitars and a tom-based beat before morphing into a gnarled, slow-burning feast of feedback and dissonance.
The title track is a grim yet sublime journey with loads of subtle, spine-tingling twists and turns, as well as guitarist/vocalist Jun-His’s wrathful gurgles and deathbed moans. Like “Lahja,” it conjures images of a midnight ritual in the woods, perhaps the very same—and very imagined—ones that fueled the Satanic Panic in the 1980s.
Arriving with a frantic, note-bending bass line, “Hypnotisoitu Viharukous” is primo modern black metal. It’s complete with nails-down-a-chalkboard synth screeches and an ethereal passage in which the guitars seem to fall over each other before parting for an overblown electric flute solo, which is actually way cooler than it sounds.
The 17-minute “Vasemman Käden Hierarkia” soars for a good four minutes before collapsing into a thundering tar pit of despair. And then the album’s first blasts of cacophony come, with clattering drums and blazing guitars. After a long spell of white noise, the main riff returns, albeit at a half-speed creep.
By the way, there’s no need to be put off by the length of the songs—Värähtelijä is so engrossing that it renders time totally irrelevant.
The record’s most intense composition, “Havuluu,” starts off innocently enough with dreamy bass work and cinematic synths that boomerang from one side of your skull to the other. But in the blink of an eye, a loathsome elastic riff washes the peace away. It’s accompanied by Jun-His’s vulgar, rattling chant that mimics the guitars, though because it’s such a cold moment I can’t shake the feeling that it’s actually mocking them. The song’s second half is monumental and oppressive, the final assault before the low-key “Valveavaruus” takes shape around a gentle, throbbing electronic beat.
And that’s your cue to wipe your brow and take a deep breath. That meteor? Missed us by that much.
Each element of Oranssi Pazuzu’s fusion of dark ’70s prog rock and grotesque metal fury is praiseworthy—the five Finns conjuring this magick remain in control and focused at all times, always pushing forward without so much as one fit of wankery. But it’s the rhythm section that shines most: Ontto’s bass is ever-present, dirty, and warm, and Korjak’s drums play big and loose. If any skeptics hop aboard, it’ll likely be because of these two dudes.
Horror film aficionados know Pazuzu as the demon that possesses Regan MacNeil in The Exorcist. And now you know Oranssi Pazuzu as the psychedelic black metal band that has possessed my meager body. Only I don’t want an exorcist anywhere near me, because I’m enjoying the crap out this deeply satisfying and highly original trip called Värähtelijä.
Released: February 26, 2016
Label: Svart Records (Europe)/20 Buck Spin (North America)