Scandinavia has long been a hotbed for music that’s challenging and dangerous in every way, and not just in metal.
Finland’s Oranssi Pazuzu have been ripping up the post-metal rulebook for a number of years now, and their fifth album, ‘Mestarin Kynsi’ (which is Finnish for ‘The Master’s Claw’) is their debut for Nuclear Blast. The post-black metal term they’re filed under may not even cover every influence on this record; black metal, doom metal, jazz, minimalism, electronica, neoclassical – they’re all here.
‘Ilmestys’ gets things off to a tense start with a throbbing beat, a tense acoustic guitar riff, an acrobatic synth line and Juho “Jun-His” Vanhanen‘s trademark depraved growl. Things get even mightier after a brief tease, and we’re swiftly transported into the trippy, smouldering hellscape that they conjure up so brilliantly.
‘Tyhjyyden Sakramentti’ acts as another showcase of their multi-dimensional whirlwind, with a jazz shuffle setting the scene. It grows and grows until a massive shift in energy propels the song even further. It you close your eyes whilst this plays, it honestly feels as if you’re falling through a vortex of mist and colours.
‘Uusi Teknokratia’ hones in on their more immersive side with some stellar guitar work, and the fact that you’re able to lose yourself in this so easily proves that listening to Oranssi Pazuzu isn’t as daunting as it may seem. Springing even further surprises, there’s a wave of voices that creep up on you before a smattering of intensity takes us home. Influences are taken from all over the shop, and they’re all utilised to thrilling effect.
With ‘Oikeamielisten Sali’, it’s clear that this firmly avoids the self-indulgent trappings of other psychedelic acts, and they undoubtedly succeed in heavier terrain. The rhythms that drummer Jarkko “Korjak” Salo comes up with to maintain the furious and frantic drive behind proceedings should also not go unnoticed. ‘Kuulwn Aania Maan Alta’ even has an almost danceable backbeat to it, adding another layer of depth. We’re left in its trance-like atmosphere before eerie organs close things out.
Some blast beats set us into gear for ‘Taivaan Portti’, which is as intense as it gets. Heavily minimalist and repetitive, but not static, this song is more-or-less a cavalcade of noise for its entirety. It’s the same rhythms and riffs all the way through, but it constantly builds up, with the tension slowly but surely being terrifyingly released, reaching a culmination of everything preceding it. As the main riff slowly fades out and sporadic sounds ring out everywhere, it’s an embodiment of the trail of devastation that’s just been left behind.
With ‘Mestarin Kynsi’, Oranssi Pazuzu have taken the idea that there’s nothing new under the sun and ripped it to shreds.