Oranssi Pazuzu began as a near-perfect fusion of black metal and campy psychedelia. I loved the debut when it came out back in 2009. As much as I enjoyed them early on, however, I don’t think I would have ever predicted just how far they could take the sound. The early Oranssi Pazuzu material was fascinating by the merit of the band’s authentic dedication to genre blending. By 2013’s Valonielu—and especially now with Värähtelijä—it finally feels like Oranssi Pazuzu have become so grounded in their sound that it no longer feels like a forceful gimmick. For these guys, dipping into the cosmic and hellishly surreal is second-nature routine.
It’s a great experience to listen to Oranssi Pazuzu’s albums in chronological order. Although their style has shifted a bit along the psych/space/kraut axis, it’s their confident grasp that has changed the most. I felt like they finally fleshed out their substance through songwriting on Valonielu. By comparison, Värähtelijä has taken far more time for me to get into. Since it ‘clicked’, I’ve realized that slow burn was a result of Oranssi Pazuzu having brought themselves up to a brand new stage in their evolution. Akin to the way Kosmonument opened up and spaced out the palette of the debut, Värähtelijä does the same for the tight focus on Valonielu. This time, the band are plunging forth with a much greater sense of direction even in the most sparse moments, and the evolution has boded well for virtually every facet of their sound.
Värähtelijä is probably the most engaging metal album I’ve heard this year so far, and that’s saying a lot. I wasn’t always so warm on it. The first couple of times hearing this latest record, I surprisingly wasn’t grabbed. Maybe I’d been expecting something with the songwriting heft of Valonielu; it’s even possible I just wasn’t in the mood for a space-black attack the first time it hit my lobes. Regardless, Värähtelijä has proved to be the biggest grower of the year for me. Where early on I was quick to call it their least engaging album to date, I’m glad I was quickly put in my place.
Värähtelijä is a total masterpiece, and this may be the first instance where referring to the band as ‘masters’ really rings true. As their sound has expanded, they’ve gained tighter reins on the style. While ‘Hypnotisoitu viharukous’ and ‘Havuluu’ develop their always stellar heavy side, the boldest improvements arrive in the psychedelic jams. The sparse atmospheric movements on Muukalainen puhuu even somewhat up to Valonielu occasionally ran the risk of sapping the album’s momentum. Värähtelijä features some of the most sparse and most ambient material yet, but I’ve only appreciated it more each time I hear it. They meticulously curate their soundscapes with the same intensity they offer their fuzzy riffs and blackened noise. It’s never so apparent as on the seventeen-and-a-half minute-long centrepiece, ‘Vasemman käden hierarkia’. The crunchy krautrock riffs ultimately give way to wide-open dark ambiance. It’s like the would-be soundtrack to some psychedelic sci-fi horror film. I guess the same could be said for their work on Muukalainen puhuu as well. However, where the spook factor early on was mostly campy fun, here, the terror is very real.
Oranssi Pazuzu’s atmosphere made the transition from ‘fun dark’ to ‘true dark’ at some point over the last couple of albums. All I know is that Värähtelijä manages to set me on edge. The psych rock riffs are as inviting as always, but there’s an undercurrent of fear in their music I didn’t really hear before. For what it’s worth, I think this is the first real masterpiece that Oranssi Pazuzu have made. Even if their past albums can be considered classics in their own right, it’s hard to think of a way where the band could develop further after Värähtelijä. From the slow burn of ‘Saturaatio’ to the schizoid guitar noise on ‘Havuluu’, Oranssi Pazuzu consistently find new and exciting ways of fleshing out their fundamental blend of genres. These guys have long since encased themselves as one of black metal’s most innovative forces. I have no idea how they’ll manage to push it even further than this, but I’ve got fingers crossed.
04) Hypnotisoitu viharukous
05) Vasemman käden hierarkia