The avant-garde used to be something that was looked upon as something altogether too strange, something to be listened to in private and whispered about to that one friend you had that also liked weird stuff. Now, it’s a marker of exciting experimentation, it’s celebrated, even, as a style that is moving music forward and giving some genres new leases of life. Oranssi Pazuzu’s music might be rooted in black metal, something which comes across in their dark aesthetic and Jun-His’ screams, but they are much more than that. Part krautrock, part psychedelia, part black metal, part something not of this world, the Finnish band have steadily been working towards this album since their debut a little over ten years ago. Valonielu in 2013 marked a huge turning point in the awareness people had of the band and Värähtelijä pushed the boundaries even further.
The world of black metal is vast land and the journey through genre is as personal for listeners as it is for the bands that create the music we hear on record. Finland’s Oranssi Pazuzu have carved their path through the trees in psychedelic rhythms and hypnotising guitars, pulling influences from different musical avenues and melding them into a trippy, cosmic odyssey that could come from another world. Mestarin kynsi, then, places Oranssi Pazuzu at the beginning of something altogether frightening – colour guitar work constantly pushes the music forward while the narrative speaks of transformation, and the songs move through portals to other worlds and are changed by each one. It is seemingly on diatribe on the dangerous wonder of technology, a soundtrack for a cyberpunk future that we should, at all costs, avoid. The band have created somewhat of a concept album with Mestarin kynsi, and their aim is to take the listener on a tumultuous journey through acceptance of one’s fate and discovering the truth.
Opening on “Ilmestys,” Oranssi Pazuzu immediately pursue a sense of awkward wonder; guitars are slightly off kilter with agitating sounds that feed into electronic beats, pulsing like a decaying heart in the darkness, waiting underground for the perfect moment to strike. The band take their time in building this dissonant course – Jun-His’ voice appears and curls around the electronic rhythms in growls and snarls while the constant movement progresses towards dank, dripping water sounds, as though the music is snaking its way through a sewer system to erupt into the streets as an act of defiance, a first act of war against the regime. And when that moment comes, in a kaleidoscope of sound, it is triumphant, as though the neo-noir sheen has exploded and revealed the grime beneath.
This sense of triumph is a thread that is followed throughout Mestarin kynsi as waves of sound rush forward in “Oikeamielisten sali” and take you to the edge of darkness. The base of the song is steeped in contemporary black metal yet the music continues to evolve around it – vocals anchor the song in reality while the music spins out into otherworldly rhythms. Layers of synthesised beats twist around repetitive guitar lines and the vocals lean into higher pitched shouts as opposed to the lower growls that have come before and the final moments segue succinctly into “Kuulen ääniä maan alta” and its anodyne beginnings. Of course, such calm cannot last and soon the song plunges headlong into tripped-out passages and an oscillating pulse that is set to seek those that hide, perhaps those from the first track, that live a life underground to escape the harsh reality of the technological empire above.
Oranssi Pazuzu have seen the future and it is terrifying.
9.0 / 10
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