Oranssi Pazuzu - Mestarin Kynsi
Nuclear Blast
Psychedelic Progressive Metal
6 songs (50:12)
Release year: 2020
Official Bandcamp, Nuclear Blast
Reviewed by Goat
Album of the month

It would have been the easiest thing in the world for oddball psychedelic Finns Oranssi Pazuzu to tone it down and to make their unique brand of blackened druggy progressive metal more in line with what you'd expect from a band signing to Nuclear Blast. Yet that shows a lack of faith almost as disturbing as the band's latest (fifth) album, opener Ilmestys' ominous tones and jangling guitar plucks already placing the listener in horror film soundtrack territory before vocalist Jun-His starts his goblin gurgling over a dense electronic backdrop. And as you'd expect from that particularly odd artwork, which conveys a gross sense of overwhelming wetness thanks to the bubbles and that still, dead (rotting?) hand, Mestarin Kynsi finds the band as weird as ever. Driven primarily by drums and synths, which are wonderful to listen in themselves in spots like the lengthy build to Tyhjyyden Sakramentti, Oranssi Pazuzu throw everything bar the kitchen sink into the mix from the expected guitars to violin, cellos, even saz and trombone which give the music a slight Eastern feel and add to the general vibe that you've stumbled into a very strange trancelike occultist ceremony.

Aside from those snarled vocals, any actual black metal elements are minimal to non-existent, the music far closer to Hawkwind than Horna, some deranged guitar jangling in Tyhjyyden Sakramentti having a notably Frippian air to them (this entire album has the feel of a nightmarish alt-universe King Crimson) before building to a creepily grandiose peak driven by the synths. The clear influence from krautrock is clear across the album, especially in the constantly awesome basslines but also moments like the introduction to Uusi Teknokratia, synths echoing from side to side atop the rock base before the shrieking vocals jolt you out of comfort. And the vocals continue to impress and amaze, those fragmented female wordless noises around the four-minute mark travellers from a very bad trip indeed, before the more metallic guitar raging that immediately punches your ears thereafter. Oranssi Pazuzu are as expert at the moments of relative calm and minimalism as they are at the maddened chaos, and the mixture of both across the track is remarkably good.

When considering this, one hesitates to use phrases like "transcending black metal" - black metal is not something to be transcended, black metal itself is transcendental! - but the decision taken by the band to concentrate more on the progressive and psychedelic elements to their sound has paid off wonderfully. The closest thing to black metal here is galloping finale Taivaan porti, frantic battering drums and shimmering keyboards almost fulfilling their traditional roles in the genre but entirely out of place in the audio mix - it's like a strange mixture of early Emperor and dirge-metal experimenteer Ildjarn, but with an overriding sense of wrongness in the classic Lovecraftian sense, a thing that should not be. It develops perfectly across the eight-minute song length, dark and trippy, an aural voyage into hell enhanced by brief stringed shimmers.

These experiments the band take with non-traditional instruments always work seamlessly and form an equal part of the overall madness - for instance, the vibe from those hypnotic strings that open Oikeamielisten Sali is woozily intense, like being drunk and seasick at the same time, and the tension is kept high in the ensuing, more rock instrument-focused sections. And it's fascinating to try and deconstruct the songwriting, the way that each song does something different with the formula that makes it distinct but just as enjoyable; Kuulen ääniä maan alta's initial focus on beats, for example, and later perfect incorporation of electronic elements into the mix feels groundbreaking in a way that a lot of industrial blackened metal doesn't manage to accomplish. A remarkable album from a group that never fails to impress; more dense and experimental than Värähtelijä and at least its equal in quality if not the best thing the band have made yet, a must-listen for fans of out-there music and close to the top of the year's best releases.

Killing Songs :
All; especially Uusi Teknokratia, Kuulen aania maan alta, Taivaan porti
Goat quoted 92 / 100
Other albums by Oranssi Pazuzu that we have reviewed:
Oranssi Pazuzu - Värähtelijä reviewed by Goat and quoted 90 / 100
Oranssi Pazuzu - Valonielu reviewed by Charles and quoted 80 / 100
Oranssi Pazuzu - Kosmonument reviewed by Aleksie and quoted 74 / 100
Oranssi Pazuzu - Muukalainen Puhuu reviewed by Charles and quoted 90 / 100
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