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Eighteenth century scientist Sir Henry Head was interested in the human nervous system. He became frustrated because experimental subjects were too vague in their accounts of pain. So he decided to experiment on himself. He had his left radial nerve severed, and from then he went on to use a technique he called the "negative attitude of attention." This is a deep meditative state of the mind wherein he closely examined the sensations of pain. For five years, instead of blocking out pain, like most of us do, he focused on it to the smallest detail.
Listening to Oranssi Pazuzu's Kosmonument is like that. For their sophomore effort, the Finnish psychedelic black metal band have presented us with a fully-immersive exploration of pain and fear. All of metal asks you to face the negative, but rarely has this examination been so intimate.
Long-time readers of mine may recall my review of their first album. I gave it only a 3 out of 5 rating. I since came to appreciate it much more, but even so, this record blows that one out of the water.
Weird, psychedelic guitar plays over hypnotic basslines, while a dark black metal rasp whispers Finnish straight to your lizard brain. Sometimes they shift into tremolo mode, and other times they go into doom or eerie ambient passages. The atmosphere is just as dynamic as the pacing and textures. For example, "Andromeda" starts off by wondering at the majesty of space, before you realize your suit is punctured and there's nothing standing between you and oblivion. Even the ambient sections add to the experience. This is all served through an organic, coherent production that gives each instrument the right amount of space.
The Verdict: Kosmonument is a huge leap forward for an already promising band. It speaks to the most primitive part of your brain, the part where fear and pain reside. Many albums attempt to teach you about pain, but it's usually second-hand. This will give you first-hand experience.
originally written for http://fullmetalattorney.blogspot.com/