Review Summary: Oranssi Pazuzu's bizarre, spaced-out brand of black metal is a combination of genres that works well – most of the time.
Oranssi Pazazu is a band that has recently received a significant amount of buzz from the blogsphere, and for good reason too. With Muukalainen Puhuu
they have created some of the most bizarre black metal noise produced in years. When one hears the word "psychedelic black metal" one could be forgiven for thinking about retro rockers Nachtmystium
, for their music harkens back to the psychedelic nature of music written in the 60's and 70's. Oranssi Pazazu, on the other hand, is truly avant garde, making the likes of Nachtmystium
appear as conventional as bands like Horna
. What's so promising about Oranssi Pazuzu is that this is only their debut.
On many levels the compositions of Oranssi Pazuzu are similar to the atmospheric, relaxing number "Plant Caravan" by Black Sabbath
. On "Planet Caravan" Sabbath dropped guitar distortion in favour of acoustics, and Ozzy sung through a leslie speaker. The results were a wonderful, if atypical Sabbath song that makes one feel as though they're drifting through space, visiting planets as the lyrics suggest. However, unlike Sabbath's work, the majority of the songs produced for 2009's Muukalainen Puhuu
are far from being relaxing. On the contrary, many of them are downright eerie. If on your trip to planet Caravan, an alien were to break into your space pod and attack, it might just sound like Oranssi Pazuzu. It's as if a black metal band were covering "Planet Caravan" with the influence of Jerry Goldsmith's classic soundtrack, Alien
. The feelings of disheartening terror and despair produced by Oranssi are in the same vein as Goldsmith's – that much is certain.
The tremolo picking on this album, featured on more traditional songs like "Korppi", have more in common with surf rock than any other black metal band they could claim as an influence. Most of their tracks are slower, however, with the guitar conjuring up notes that do an admiral job of making the songs sound dark and brooding. The keyboards, heard more often than not, complement the guitar work to this end. They frequently evoke tunes and noises that wouldn't sound out of place in an old sci-fi flick, which gives the work a lot of character. Tracks like "Kangastus 1968" are a prime example of this, so odd that they could only be described as spaced-out, black metal lounge music.
Now, that's not to say that the entire album is perfect – far from it. The black metal cries that are employed on this record are excruciatingly dry, and could definitely use some beefing up. Perhaps that's because avant garde musician Jun-His is new to the world of black metal, having formed Oranssi Pazuzu after the demise of his other psychedelic ensemble, Kuolleet Intiaanit
. Undoubtedly, this group is at their best when they slow things down and let their instruments weave weird soundscapes, for things seem to fall apart more often than not when sped up. This is because of the group's peculiar brand of music, which is good for post-metal atmosphere, but bad as far as simple and enjoyable black metal songs go. One can only hope that on future releases they fix this, through either better songwriting or dropping the more conventional black metal songs altogether. Regardless of the album's faults, this is a must listen for any black metal or post metal fan, unafraid of experimentation. This is without a doubt one of the most original black metal releases of the year.