PICK OF THE WEEK: Finland’s Oranssi Pazuzu deliver psyche-space drama on ‘Valonielu’

oranssiIt’s hard to run into music in any category that is truly unique sounding. So many ideas have surfaced, been tried, and been done to death, that being even somewhat original is not an easy task. So when someone does come along and has a new approach or something you haven’t heard before–or at least in a long while–it makes that band stand out even more.

I’m sure you’ve already heard the hype surrounding Finnish metal squadron Oranssi Pazuzu and their third record “Valonielu,” because it seems every corner of the universe is talking about them. It’s for damn good reason, because this band is doing something neck-jerkingly fresh, as in no other band out there is producing sounds like they are, and I’d expect after this record runs its natural course, the flood of copiers and pretenders will come rushing after them trying to capitalize. But what they followers will lack is the magic this band creates on their albums (2011’s “Kosmonument” was awfully solid as well) and the pure ingenuity in their compositions. They meld death metal, black metal, prog, and a healthy dose of Krautrock in their delicious stew of sounds, and it’s clear from taking a few trips with their new record that their process is wholly organic and not forced just to be different. They’ve found an explosive way to seamlessly blend their various influences.

CDDG4T1-004.pdf“Valonielu” is getting an extra hand in its promotion and worldwide coverage, as it’s being released by Svart in Europe and by 20 Buck Spin in North America. 20 Buck Spin has been no stranger to properly acclaimed records in 2013, as they just put out the amazing new Atlantean Kodex and still have the deranged, mentally damaged Vastum record up their sleeve in November. Exposing this effort to the North American audience not only proves them wise once again when it comes to finding great talent, but it also gives the band a chance to find more ears on this continent to absorb their space-infested, melodic, but damaged metal that feels like a weird, mind-altering experience for most of the journey, but that that brings you back sporting scars and bruises. It’s also just good for your brain.

Five singularly monikered musicians make up the roster of Oranssi Pazuzu, that being vocalist/guitarist Jun-His (formerly of like-minded but decidedly less barbaric Kuolleet Intiaanit), guitarist Moit, keyboard player EviL (responsible for the band’s heavy psychedelic haze), bassist Ontto, and drummer Korjak. Their foray deeper into the cosmos and the farthest reaches of your mind is partially what makes this new record so fascinating and essential to all metal fans with adventurous tastes, but their scathing metallic tendencies that reek of Enslaved and even Darkthrone are what will those of us who need things brutal all the time totally plugged in.

“Vino verso” is an ideal stage setter, as the song wooshes in, guitars gets charged up, and prog weirdness spews forth from the keys. Jun-His’ growls are creaky and savage, and the music around him sounds like it’s getting you ready for a sci-fi-based drama. “Tyhja tempelli” feels creepy and isolated at first, but then spiraling, bent guitar lines slip in, giving the song a late-at-night feel, like you’re outside on a dark road, with your flesh getting colder, your walk seemingly getting longer. The melodies can mess with your head, but they’re also mesmerizing and sticky, making this my favorite track on the record. “Uraanisula” is the first of the record’s two epics, running nearly 12 minutes.The song has a cold, cosmic-style opening that spills into cleanly played doom and then meaty, sinewy riffs. The guitar work is full of atmosphere through the bulk of the song, keyboards bubble to the surface, and the band eventually hits on a thorny prog section that reminds me a lot of classic Voivod. That brings the thrash and punishment to its high point, and Jun-His’ furious vocals are menacing and terrifying.

“Reika maisemassa” lets you have a little breather. It’s an ambient-heavy instrumental that again hints at space exploration, and the plodding drums help lead the song along its path. “Olen aukaissut uuden silman” has a rousing open that’s crushing but also brainy and weird, and this is one of the burlier examples of their black metal tendencies. Some of the melodies remind me of Chris Black’s darker ideas, as the guitars bulk up and melodies surge, leading into its fairly strange ending. Closer “Ympyra on viiva tomussa” is the final epic of the record, ticking in a little over 15 minutes and remaining captivating the entire time. The beginning feels like what you might hear in your head if you were trapped on alien terrain with only yourself as company, as your anxiety and terror match your natural curiosity. Noises scream out and cause abrasions and other damage, while the melodies surge then melt over. Jun-His’ vocals again are nasty and harsh, and he works amid keys zapping from all over, doom-heavy riffs dropping tonnage, and even more intergalactic exploration, which obviously is a huge theme. The violence continues to build as the song reaches its conclusion, and the noise and chaos sizzles and fizzles out at the end, as their little ship disappears from the atmosphere and back into space.

“Valonielu” is just stunning, the most unique metal record you’ll hear all year, and the one that’ll make you do the most imagination inside your head. I defy you not to dream of space missions, of stars exploding, and of bright colors dashing across the night sky when you absorb this album. This collection has intellectual meat for the thinkers, brutality for those who live by heaviness and volume, and the total package for those who want both of those things. Oranssi Pazuzu already are making the most of their expanded audience simply be delivering this record, and it’s up to everyone else to plug in and realize what we’re all so excited about.

For more on the band, go here: http://www.oranssipazuzu.com/

To buy the album, go here: http://www.20buckspinshop.com/

For more on the label, go here: http://www.20buckspinshop.com/blogs/news