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Kaleidoscopic darkness. - 85%

Witchfvcker, March 15th, 2016
Written based on this version: 2016, CD, Svart Records (Digipak)

Perpetual oddballs, floating in the outskirts of the Finnish black metal scene, the enigmatic and bizarre ensemble Oranssi Pazuzu are anything but typical. Pulsating charcoal psychedelia is tightly entwined with an intense atmospheric black metal undercurrent, in an unholy union of bleak and occasionally downright hellish soundscapes. Translating to something like “the oscillator”, the band’s fourth outing Värähtelijä adds further steps to this mind-melting spiral into space metal madness.

A surprisingly upbeat proggy number, “Saturaatio” sets a vigorous precedence for the remainder of Värähtelijä. Snaking through psychedelic tunnels of sound, the energetic beat and somewhat catchy main riff is balanced out by copious amounts of spacey effects and a 12 minute running time. Further darkness washes in with the ominous “Lahja”, where an eerie xylophone echoes the atmospherics of a John Carpenter movie. Frontman Jun-His croaks incantations in his native tongue, as a universe of layered sounds swirl around like a vortex, and the ghostly xylophone bounces ever onward.

It’s easy to be swept away by Oranssi Pazuzu’s hypnotic dirge, despite the occasionally abrasively avant-garde touches that Jun-His and his compatriots keep churning out. The incredibly dense psychedelia is far removed from flower power, rather lending a devilish tinge to what feels like a steady descent through the planes of purgatory. Trancelike moments abound, such as on the jaw-dropping “Vasemman Käden Hierarkia” (“left hand hierarchy”), where a hypnotic repeated melody is backed by a menagerie of strange sounds and instrumental flourish, culminating in vast choirs that feel like you’re grasping for air.

In many ways, then, Värähtelijä is a suffocating experience, and despite its multifaceted ways it still feels like the most coherent work Oranssi Pazuzu have released to date. Although the band have dubbed themselves a middle ground between “the arsonists and the smokers”, the ambitious but bizarre sounds on Värähtelijä are liable to alienate both the hippies and the diehard black metal fans. This does not count against Oranssi Pazuzu; their originality and refusal to fit in any molds make for a unique and intensely rewarding listen.