Oranssi Pazuzu from Finland is one of the iconic bands on experimental black metal scene, despite the fact, that the band exists only for 13 years. But in psychedelic black metal subgenre the band is totally unique (with some other big names like Nachtmystium or A Forest of Stars). The fifth album “Mestarin kynsi” is traditionally performed in Finnish language, and continues a journey to the cruel world of cosmic and abstract future within the music borders.
Throughout the history of existence, there was only one line-up change (after the departure of guitarist Moit, which was replaced by Ikon), so no doubt, that every one of them truly enjoys creating and playing such a specific avant-garde music. They’ve got caught up in the maze of unknown more and more, especially with the help of keyboard player. He mostly focuses on psychedelic and atmospheric part of the music, whilst the rest of the musicians specialize more on black metal foundation. Truth to be told, the music of Oranssi Pazuzu isn’t so easy to define as black metal now, yes, black metal is presented on every track of the album, but in slightly modified form due to non-standard musical passages and the influence of psychedelic ambient. Their music has become more progressive, but not in a classical way, because Oranssi Pazuzu are not even close to such conceptions as traditional or routine.
“Mestarin kynsi” isn’t performed with very fast speed, but there’s always an accelerating pace on every song from mid-tempo to crazy blast beat moments (like in the last song “Taivaan Portti”). Generally, the interludes are long enough on every track, and they create a solid foundation of the songs’ structures. But this monotony isn’t boring or drab, it’s rather a religious and shamanistic rhythm. The tribal elements can be found almost on every song, they create gloomier and darker atmosphere, especially on the first song “Ilmestys”. On the songs “Tyhjyyden Sakramentti” and “Taivaan Portti” is presented deliberate distortion of sound with some reference to noise, which depressively suppresses the human psyche. And that is due to skillful use of effects and synthesizers, because this deep and refined album is full of them. Sometimes they are unobtrusive or placed in the background, like ideal score to horror movie, but sometimes they gradually transform into deep noise. But mostly these are abstract and space motives, drawing an analogy from dark ambient (they are very long and repetitive). Sometimes the synths utter electronic parts (like in the song “Tyhjyyden Sakramentti”), but usually even these electronic elements are oppressing and frightening.
Apart from the traditional metal instruments and incredible keyboards and sound effects, there are some other surprises. The violin and cello adorn the song “Oikeamielisten Sali” with slow psychedelic tempo, but on “Taivaan Portti” these classical instruments create more reflective aura on the background. “Tyhjyyden Sakramentti” is beautifully decorated with the flute parts, but on “Kuulen Ääniä Maan Alta” we can hear an organ and trombone in the end.
The voice of Jun-His is entirely in screaming manner, but the female guest singers (Jutta Rahmel and Maija Pokela) on the background sometimes masterfully strengthen the impact, as if virtually you are featured in the horror movie. But Jun-His spares no effort or emotions, his singing is filled with eeriest and darkest feelings, it is full of desperation and malice. And for a good reason these feelings prevail, because the lyrics are associated with occult control of masses through a certain religious leader. So, the singer truly (only with his voice) was able to create ritual and apocalyptic atmosphere of total darkness.
The sound of guitars is often intentionally distorted with delicate skillfulness, making the music heavier, especially when guitar sound is closer to noise with insane blast beats (like in the heaviest last track “Taivaan Portti”). In the song “Kuulen Ääniä Maan Alta” the sound of bass guitar with the trombone is visibly stressed out, and there’s even trip-hop influence there. In the most psychedelic parts, we can hear acoustic elements (especially in song “Oikeamielisten Sali”). Weirdly enough, but the bass guitar is articulately highlighted throughout the record, but the drummer Korjak shows his talent in the fastest songs. The album ends with vicious and depressing instrumental passage (after the long and aggressive singing) and the slowing of tempo, accompanied by the rustle of the wind. And this is the thrilling final, the light at the end of the tunnel, but no regrets about it, the album emotionally overwhelms the listener with agony and darkness, emptying out the soul.
The sound on this release is intendedly contaminated, sometimes the high notes are like a punch in the face, especially with the noise elements. But regardless, every instrument is cleanly remastered to complain about chaotic perception (unless it is created on purpose, for instance, in the songs “Oikeamielisten Sali” or “Taivaan Portti”). And the cover art fits in a concept ideally with its symbolism and abstract influence.
Oranssi Pazuzu isn’t the kind of band easy to understand with all their non-standard song-writing and experimental musical ideas. But their contract with Nuclear Blast proved that even such strange and exceptional music starts to increase interest in a broader sense. “Mestarin Kynsi” is full of aggression and ritual restraint, touching darkest strings of the soul, so yet again the experiment has been a success 100% sure.
Release date: April 17th, 2020
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