Oranssi Pazuzu – Valonielu

Oranssi Pazuzu - Valonielu

Oranssi Pazuzu are an example of a band whose unique style automatically places them a head above their peers, even before they reach the songwriting stage. Although all passionately executed black metal is, to some extent, psychedelic in its nature and effect, Oranssi Pazuzu provide a more literal interpretation of psychedelic black metal. Sinister black metal atmosphere and typically snarled vocals are imbued with Krautrockish twang, spacey effects and vintage fuzz. Although it feels like more of Oranssi Pazuzu‘s musical ideas tend to be pulled from the psychedelic end of their fusion on this latest album, the black metal nexus of Valonielu doesn’t feel the slightest bit watered down. In this case, the mixing of psych and black metal conventions is solute to the point where one does not breathe without the other; Oranssi Pazuzu have created themselves one of the most unique and convincing styles I’ve ever heard from a metal band, and there’s been no band since who has successfully managed to reach the same level of organic perfection with the blending.

Of course, all of that could be said about any Oranssi Pazuzu record. Although their relatively monopolistic hold on this specific sound give them sufficient stopping power to have excused the need for consistent innovation, some change is evident in the band’s approach on Valonielu. Especially compared to their 2009 debut,Valonielu may be seen to have taken a decidedly more sombre approach to the atmosphere; whereasMuukalainen Puuhu felt incredibly self-conscious of its stylistic niche, Valonielu draws back on the playfulness of the sound. Although it should still make for a head-scratching experience for newcomers, they’re more tactical regarding the use of ‘space’ effects and overt weirdness here. When compared to the debut and Kosmonument,Valonielu feels more mature and, indeed, more grounded in its approach. In a broad sense, it feels like Oranssi Pazuzu have reached adulthood with their style, but in doing so, they have lost part of what endeared me so much towards them in the first place.

‘Vino Verso’ and ‘Olen Aukaissut Uuden Silm’n’ both make for particularly vicious pieces of blackened Krautrock, and ‘Tyhj’ Tempelli’ is even redolent of surf rock, but Valonielu is, on the whole, far more conservatively paced than Oranssi Pazuzu were at the start. Compared to the burstfire energy and spooky atmosphere of a track like ‘Korppi’ (from the debut), Valonielu occasionally feels downright plodding, and never reaches the same relative extremes of its predecessors. Oranssi Pazuzu have by no means lost their spark or vitesse, but large stretches of Valonielu have the unfortunate tendency of falling into the background. The ambient ‘Reik’ Maisemassa’ feels like an interlude that was unnecessarily dragged out to match a full song length. ‘Uraanisula’ offers a neat groove at the start, but feels overdrawn in the name of drawn-out space rock tradition. Although even longer than ‘Uraanisula’, ‘Ympyr’ On Viiva Tomussa’ fares quite a bit better as a longform composition, building up to the sort of power-filled ruptures that would make most post-rock bands feel and smell the need for a new set of underwear. Even factoring in the relative success of these ideas however, I would still have preferred to hear a more active, caffeinated approach from Oranssi Pazuzu. I know it’s among the dirtiest of words when speaking of black metal, but yes, Valonielu isn’t as ‘fun’ as I was expecting it to be.

While I’m not as engaged by the songwriting this time around, Oranssi Pazuzu remain at the top of their class with regards to execution. From a production and performance standpoint, I cannot think of a single thing that would have made Oranssi Pazuzu‘s fusion of psychedelic rock and black metal sound more convincing. The production feels warm and vintage in a way far too few albums ever are these days, and the band’s choice of timbre always befits their artistic intention perfectly. Although they’re no slouch when compared to the par, Jun-His’ vocals are undoubtedly the most conventional part of Oranssi Pazuzu, and I’m left wondering if a more distinct vocal style could have made their sound even sharper, or risked hurting the near-perfect balance they’ve crafted in their style. It’s that sense of style and willingness to sound unique that has kept me coming back for more Oranssi with each coming album. Though I’m sure a slower pace has the potential to work wonders for the band’s sound, I’m unfortunately not feeling it on Valonielu as much as I thought I would. There is brilliance here as always, but like the rays of a cosmic sun, you shouldn’t expect to feel it all the time.

Tracklist:

1. Vino verso (4:52)
2. Tyhjä temppeli (4:26)
3. Uraanisula (11:52)
4. Reikä maisemassa (4:38)
5. Olen aukaissut uuden silmän (5:16)
6. Ympyrä on viiva tomussa (15:10)

Line-up:

* Ontto – bass
* Jun-His – vocals, guitars
* EviL – keyboards, percussion
* Moit – guitars
* Korjak – drums

Guest/Session:
* J.G. Arellano – additional percussion & special effects

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