Oranssi Pazuzu voyage beyond black metal to a sound all their own on the new Mestarin Kynsi | Music Review | Chicago Reader

Music » Music Review

Oranssi Pazuzu voyage beyond black metal to a sound all their own on the new Mestarin Kynsi

by

Sign up for our newsletters Subscribe

1 comment

When I wrote about these Finnish xenonauts last October, on the occasion of the only stateside tour in their 13-year history, I called their music “wormhole black metal”: “Oranssi Pazuzu plunge you into a tunnel of fatally deformed spacetime, bathe you in a sizzling cocktail of exotic radiation, and spit you out somewhere cold, dark, alien, and very, very far away.” I stand by the wormhole metaphor, but the band’s brand-new fifth album, Mestarin Kynsi (“The Master’s Claw”), has me rethinking the “black metal” part. Over the years they’ve drifted so far from the genre’s familiar signposts that wherever they are now, they’re alone out there—and I can’t ask for more from musicians than that they grow to sound like no one but themselves. You’ll waste your time hunting for frosty tremolo-picked guitars, blurry blastbeats, and sandpaper shrieks on Mestarin Kynsi. The clotted vocals of guitarist and front man Juho "Jun-His" Vanhanen admittedly signal “some sort of metal is happening, probably,” but the album is dominated by turgid, peristaltic bass and a kaleidoscopic constellation of keyboards. Increasingly, Oranssi Pazuzu don’t have a sound so much as a psychedelic profusion of sounds: insistent oscillations of cosmic roller-rink organ, smears of dissonant hornlike synths, a violin ostinato that wobbles like a dragging reel-to-reel tape, pinging rhythmic chatter reminiscent of late-80s EBM, cascades of urgently pulsing wordless female vocals, a grotty guitar that dives in pitch like a circular saw biting into sheet metal. Only one track on Mestarin Kynsi uses a steady rock backbeat, and the lone recognizable blastbeat arrives in album closer “Taivaan Portti”: the drums hammer steadily forward, gradually overwhelmed by an insane ecstasy of cathedral-size drones that grows and grows until its howling overtones pour from the heavens like curtains of fire. The songs complicate riffs that might otherwise be catchy by dilating them with unpredictable extra beats or adding competing patterns—these guys will give you something awesomely heavy to dig into, but only so they can use that hook to drag you somewhere weird. “Ilmestys” begins with oozing synth bass and a kick drum that feels like it’s pressed up against your forehead, chased by a whirling disco-ball keyboard that staggers dizzily through the lopsided ten-beat bars—meanwhile, the sparse vocals stubbornly ignore that odd meter, suspending the oscillating patterns in a sort of infinite moment where everything feels like it could be flowing backward or forward. When the full drum kit finally enters, it brings along a dilated bass riff that finally pushes the song in a clear direction, triggering an explosively satisfying release of that tension. In English, “Ilmestys” means “Revelation.”   v

Support Independent Chicago Journalism: Join the Reader Revolution

We speak Chicago to Chicagoans, but we couldn’t do it without your help. Every dollar you give helps us continue to explore and report on the diverse happenings of our city. Our reporters scour Chicago in search of what’s new, what’s now, and what’s next. Stay connected to our city’s pulse by joining the Reader Revolution.

Are you in?

  Give $35/month →  
  Give $10/month →  
  Give  $5/month  → 

Not ready to commit? Send us what you can!

 One-time donation  → 

Comments

Showing 1-1 of 1

 

Add a comment