Friday, June 24, 2011

Oranssi Pazuzu- Muukalainen Puhuu (2009)

Oranssi Pazuzu is one of the strangest, most original and quirky black metal bands I have ever heard. All the basic elements of black metal are present—tremolo riffs, lush synth, raspy screams—but they have been transformed into something totally alien. The frigid atmosphere of classic black metal is replaced with an aesthetic more suited to (as the cover suggests) deep space. 

Oranssi Pazuzu integrates many psychedelic elements (think early Pink Floyd— such as jangly guitars, trippy synths and stretches of dissonant ambience—into their metallic foundation. They also integrate many elements of jazz—and not only the avant garde stuff that we are used to seeing infused with black metal, but also more standard jazz. Indeed, there are a few songs that are basically bar room jazz tunes with black metal vocals! Elements of surfer rock and dub round out the odd concoction that is Oranssi Pazuzu.

These fusions are as strange as they sound and certainly take some time to get used to. It is especially odd to hear a black metal rhythm section that is so groove oriented. However, having such funky rhythm section gives the songs an especially addictive quality. The album is full of rhythms that stick in your head and draw you back for another listen. In addition to extremely unique and imaginative music, the vocals are quite noteworthy. Jun-His’s dry, lizard-like growl is the perfect accompaniment to the strange music.

While “Muukalainen Puhuh” contains many experimental moments, the first and last tracks show that Oranssi Pazuzu can produce more straight forward metal song s that are as addictive as their experimental counterparts. The opener “Korppi” is an orgy of infectious tremolo riffs and spooky synths grounded in a visceral, pulsating rhythm. “Kerettilainen Vuohi”, the closer, centers on a slow, devious, Sabbath style riff engulfed in shimmering keys, which loops and loops before decaying into a sea of ambient noise. 

With “Muukalainen Puhuh,” Oranssi Pazuzu strikes an excellent balance between challenging and indulging its audience. It is extremely melodious, but at the same time intricate and complex. It is original, while giving a nod to the past.  It is diverse, yet has a unified aesthetic. Like putting together a great puzzle, putting the pieces of “Muukalainen Puhuh” together over numerous listens is simultaneously a challenging and pleasurable experience. 

Overall: 9/10

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