REVIEW: ORANSSI PAZUZU – “Värähtelijä”
Oranssi Pazuzu (Orange Pazuzu in English, Pazuzu is a demon) has always been a band that people regarded as an “outsider” in Black Metal, particularly in the Finnish scene where you have bands like Sargeist, Beherit, Archgoat, and Satanic Warmaster. Oranssi Pazuzu is one of those oddball Black Metal bands people have polarized opinions about. Unlike Sigh and Peste Noire, these more well-known experimental acts, Oranssi Pazuzu doesn’t stray very far from their Black Metal roots. Though they are not among the first bands that took Black Metal in a more experimental and avant-garde direction, they are certainly among the first bands in the mid and late 2000s that popularized a relatively new style of Black Metal. Along with bands like Nachtmystium and A Forest of Stars, Oranssi Pazuzu plays a brand of Black Metal that can be described as Psychedelic Black Metal. Formed in 2007, the five piece has released 3 albums so far, each on a different record label. The band returns on yet a new label Svart Records with their most experimental and ambitious album, ‘Värähtelijä’.
One thing to keep in mind when you listen to any of their album is that they are not your conventional Black Metal album. ‘Värähtelijä’ is no different. The biggest attraction to Oranssi Pazuzu’s sound is their ability to combine Black Metal with Psychedelic Rock and experimenting with that crossroad. The first characteristic of the music that catches your attention is the overall sound the band produces. Their music has a really intriguing dynamic and an atmosphere that many Atmospheric Black Metal bands wished they have. The band exquisitely crafts a mercurial soundscape that shifts from aggressive Black Metal blast beats and vocals, to more reserved psychedelic ambiences, the sporadic keyboards, or even stoner rock grooves and at times ram these different sounds together. In terms of employing the various influences and faces of their music, Oranssi Pazuzu showcases their best performance yet in ‘Värähtelijä’. There is something new to be found in each track. From the suspenseful and sparkling bell-like percussion lines of “Lahja” to the chaotic and eclectic frenzy of “Hypnotisoitu Viharukous”, the band plays around with their sound to create an outstandingly varied sound.
The album starts out introducing one of the most pivotal composition techniques of this album, track looping. “Saturaatio” begins with an inviting guitar riff that gets looped along with simple supporting bass and drum lines. When the rest of the instrumental band comes in, a listener gets immediately introduced to the band’s most colorful instrument, the keyboards. This track establishes the overall sound of the album with the hypnotic looping, contrast between distortion and clarity, and the idea of “musical weaving” when the band moves the various influences around, in and out of the music. The band is able to capitalize on the intimate relationships between the various influences and instruments spread throughout the album to create music that is not only extremely versatile but also have a sense of musical direction. “Vasemman käden hierarkia”, is the perfect example of this. Being the longest track on the album (18 minutes), this track is a perfect representation of the album as it embodies the spirit of experimentation and musicianship the band demonstrates on ‘Värähtelijä’. Oranssi Pazuzu goes all out by opening the floodgates and release their restraints on their creative composition. You can find the meaty grooves, blistering electronics and psychedelic keyboards, and ensnaring black metal aggression that lays the foundational framework for the album.
Alongside the Black Metal and Psychedelic Rock, traces of Stoner Rock, Space/Krautrock, Ambient Music, therein sounding Power Electronics and Post/Progressive rock can be found scattered around ‘Värähtelijä’. With the various influences, Oranssi Pazuzu mercurially alters the concentration or potency of the different genres at play to create an album that morphs itself to stay fresh as the band invites the listeners to go on a demented journey that is spiraling out of control into insanity. There are parts on ‘Värähtelijä’ like “Hypnotisoitu Viharukous”, where Oranssi Pazuzu kicks into overdrive displaying the band’s full capabilities of going mad with the ferocity of the Black Metal paired with the freakish electronic wails and Juho Vanhanen’s deranged vocals. “Lahja” takes the opposite approach by having a polyrhythmic looped passages with raspy whispered vocals coming in and out of the sound to create an intricate buildup of suspense and mystery. “Havuluu” sits in the middle with its suspenseful introduction that develops into a hard hitting hypnotic blackened sludgy affair resembling the sound of bands like Cobalt and Lord Mantis.
‘Värähtelijä’ definitely showcases the creative expeditions Oranssi Pazuzu embarks on. However, the album gets weighed down at certain parts when the pacing is inconsistent. In certain parts of tracks like “Saturaatio”, “Värähtelijä”, and “Valveavaruus”, the band backs off and allows the music to stagnate. The issue mainly comes with the length of the elongated passages those tracks have. If these parts were reduced in length, they would be more effective and make the album more cohesive as a whole instead of as individual tracks. As for their future material, I want to see the band to explore more possibilities while refining and polishing what they have already done. Other than that, ‘Värähtelijä’ is Oranssi Pazuzu’s most ambitious album as the band continues their musical innovation to expand their own horizons. With the abundance of experimentation on ‘Värähtelijä’, Oranssi Pazuzu challenges themselves and the listeners to think more outside the box while being ushered into a sonic excursion to the far reaches and crevices of the band’s musical prowess and creative sensibilities. ‘Värähtelijä’ is an excellent idiosyncratic release that is both unearthly dynamic and bone-chillingly haunting.