Released: 2016, Svart Records
Reviewer: Aaron Yurkiewicz
To describe Oranssi Pazuzu as strange would be both fitting and inadequate. Branded as “psychedelic black metal”, the Finnish collective invokes equal spirits of WITTR, REVELATIONS-era 1349, Mysticum and Syd Barrett. At times wallowing in hypnotic drone, other times wielding intentionally abrasive strongholds, their latest release VÄRÄHTELIJÄ is a more challenging beast than even your most advantageous church burners.
With each subsequent release, Oranssi Pazuzu have consciously shed more conventional musical constraints in favor or more abstract themes, yet still retaining a decidedly aggressive and controlled environment. Musically, VÄRÄHTELIJÄ propels forward like a drug induced chase sequence in some underground arthouse flick; heightened by the flow of adrenaline, yet stumbling through a persistent blur as the protagonist seeks escape from the cavernous vortex adorning the album’s cover art. There is a light at the end of that tunnel, but what is the cost to get there? Be it the pulsating repetition in “Saturaatio”, the true kvlt assault of “Hypnotisoitu Viharukous” or the organ heavy horror of “Valveavaruus”, VÄRÄHTELIJÄ feels like a free roaming organic monster. But as loose as the music flows, make no mistake; the band is firmly in control of where they’re taking you.
You’re bombarded with walls of guitars, with gyrating time signatures, with prolonged moments of quiet, punctuated psychosis – all of which is an intentional exercise that keeps you moving through the vortex. Before you realize it, 70 minutes have passed and your eyes are adjusting to the sunlight. Oranssi Pazuzu openly challenge the boundaries of traditional black metal, demonstrating that extremity and nihilism can be manifest through atypical musical formats, all the while still retaining the raw sensibilities that genre fans would expect to find. VÄRÄHTELIJÄ is in itself a challenge, but one you should be willing to accept.