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Interstellar psych BM travel with evil intent - 85%

NausikaDalazBlindaz, August 2nd, 2014

Good to see that this Finnish five-piece are already on their third journey through the psych black metal cosmos and reaching out to the very edges of the known universe and possibly beyond, as suggested by the album cover art which might (just might - I'm guessing wildly here) have been inspired by the style of famous comic-strip writer and artist Robert Crumb. "Valonielu" is a very confident work refining the style set by debut recording and album "Muukalainen Puhuu" which was a real humdinger for its enthusiastic and colourful if sometimes demented music. Our citrus-loving demons wisely don't try to top that album in excess but nevertheless the ride here is as mind-blowing and expansive in its own way.

The opening track is a tough rocker dominated by Jun-His's inhuman croaking vocals barking in deranged Finnish while droning synths and effects heighten the sense of unreality and the impression that chaos and other dreamworlds are just a breath away. The psychedelic space journey proper really launches with the next track "Tyhja Temppeli" ("The Empty Temple") with a thumping percussion accompanied by squiggly guitar chords, flashes of guitar tone and synth wash. Tension and suspense created within the song builds up. The band opts for a more relaxed, spacey, trippy ambient approach with "Uraanisula" rather than continue with the near-hysterical escalation of foreboding generated on the preceding song but "Uraanisula" has its own sinister charms, especially in those instrumental passages where guitar solo competes with ascending and descending space gurgle noises. It's a fairly long track but with a riff that more or less runs right through its length, the song is distinct with a strong focus and direction.

There's time for a breather and a look around the spacescape with "Reika Maisemassa" ("A Hole in the Landscape"), a trippy little instrumental with tribal-sounding drumming and a sense of wonder and awe. The difficult second half of the album - this is where filler is most likely to be found - is negotiated well before "Ympyra On Viiva Tomussa" ("A Circle Is A Line In The Dust"), a monster track of atmospheric trance immersion, blackened rock-out glory and mind-blowing consciousness-altering space psychedelia, takes us on the final lap around the edges of the cosmos, always on the verge of falling right off and over into another (and perhaps more malevolent) universe. A war to dominate our minds is waged between a battery of tremolo guitars and death rays of while Jun-His sings over the battle. The sound is evil as though the forces of darkness are winning and the spacecraft carrying us listeners is doomed to fall into black void forever.

What makes this blackened psychedelic trance record stand out is a calculated attitude that drips with evil intent; the voyage to the stars and far beyond is a one-way journey into a cosmos that is indifferent and maybe even antagonistic and hostile towards those humans who dare to forget their place at the bottom of the cosmic hierarchy and venture out from their Earth prison. The album's energy and focus are directed towards dropping us all into emptiness: the answer to humankind's quest for meaning to life. As cosmic jokes go, this is devastating and "Valonielu" might serve as a warning to us all about human hubris. Whereas on the band's first album, interstellar travel was fun, now on this trip the fun has been replaced by uncertainty and foreboding that we might be in for an unpleasant shock.

While the first half of the album can be a tease with songs going off on different tangents from previous tracks, the second half pulls the strands together and from then on the ultimate aim is unavoidable. Early tracks can stand alone as potential singles (due to one riff or melody dominating throughout) which might explain why as a group they don't seem unified and a bit of momentum is lost from one track to the next. The musicians keep monotony at bay with synthesiser melodies, atmospheric wash and effects which help give songs their distinct ambience and identities.

The whole recording really works like a horror sci-fi movie in sound: now all that's needed are the visual backgrounds and maybe some stills of actors, and we've got ourselves a complete package.

Elemental - 97%

Musical Warfare, June 29th, 2014
Written based on this version: 2013, CD, Svart Records (Digipak)

I checked Oranssi Pazuzu out a little in the past, but either I stupidly failed to realize how good they are, or they’ve gotten a hell of a lot better on this newest album. I guess I may have been expecting something a little different with all the buzz about this amazing new “cosmic black metal” band from Finland. In actuality it’s a pretty big stretch to describe the music on Valonielu as anything closely resembling black metal, but that’s kind of like saying Mastodon is not really sludge or Solstafir isn’t black metal anymore. Valonielu is the type of album where throwing genres around to describe it is just wasted effort. The album resonates with primitive, rock-charged vitality and morose psychedelia, confronting the listener with simple yet deliciously vibrant guitar work. At the album’s heart is ‘Olen Aukaissut Uuden Silmän’, an effects-laden mind trip that sucks you into its labyrinthine coils until your entire consciousness rattles along with its ever-present rhythmic pulse. Other tracks like ‘Reikä Maisemassa’ and ‘Tyhjä Tempelli’ take a languid approach while oozing with a sleazy 70’s vibe, and the lengthier ‘Uraanisula’ and ‘Ympyrä On Viiva Tomussa’ adopt more of a sludge or post-rock song structure.

It’s easy to hear the maturity and compositional mastery displayed by the band on this third release. Rather than taking the shotgun approach of cramming songs full of riffs, time changes and such, each track is meticulously constructed and often focuses on a single primary melody or riff while the band weaves effects, atmospherics and other forms of contrast around the main theme. Such songwriting confidence really illustrates where Oranssi Pazuzu is at musically, and it’s hard to argue with the effectiveness and impact of the final product they’ve created. Valonielu is addictive, incredibly creative, aggressive, and its expansive, rock-driven sound has an undeniably universal appeal. Every track is awesome, and there’s very little wasted space. This is just a fantastic metal album.

(Originally written for Musical Warfare)

The One You Ought To Listen First - 91%

saakelinpalvaaja, March 17th, 2014

Oranssi Pazuzu is a finnish psychedelic black metal band. They released their first album in 2009, called Muukalainen Puhuu (The Sojourner Speaks) and it was a blast. Somewhere between the lengthy tracks the band forgot to play black metal and went for a more straightforward trippin' (if such is ever straightforward). The formula has stayed the same and what could be said of their debut can be said of Valonielu. Kosmonument was already a step forward, but behind all of it's - well - monumental shell, beat the same heart and for many it was a bit of a letdown. A bit too cosmic to stay on it's course and a tad too monumental to keep you enthralled all the way.

On "Valonielu", Pazuzu makes a slightly bigger shift. The sound is somewhat more mature. Though the thought of using the word in this context repels me,but I am obliged to do this.Valonielu is simply huge, but not too monumental like it's nearest predecessor. It's a definite grower, just like all the albums songs. Almost dull and somewhat empty at the beginning, but a sure destroyer by the end. At first it seems like a compromise album, but after some 20 spins I had changed my mind. The opener "Vino Verso" (Askew Sprout) is built largely around one riff, one that could smash your face right in if it wanted to. Nevertheless, matters never seem to escape the control of Jun-His, Ontto, Korjak, EviL and Moit as they almost always escape the flaws on most anyone trying to build a song which includes nothing but one part. "Tyhjä Temppeli" (The Empty Temple) is filled with delicately crafted and masterfully controlled chaos that perfectly continues into "Uraanisula" (Molten Uranium), which begins as a distantly echoing picking, before turning into a slow Panzerkampfwagen on it's way to annihilation of the universe. Heavy as it is powerful. "Olen Aukaissut Uuden Silmän" (I Have Opened A New Eye) is perhaps the most typical black metal song on the album, yet covered in tingles of psychedelia. Actually the whole album feels like a one creation, split into multiple passages, more so than the band's previous efforts.

The best moments of this album are the ones where the band focuses more on the chilling, spacey painting. Where no vocals, distorted guitars or other elements of black metal can be heard. Despite Oranssi Pazuzu's static (loads and loads of repetition on this one. Up to a point which makes their earlier albums seem like prog..) approach to their songs and numerous other experimenters in the black metal genre, they manage to come of as pretty unique and intriguing group. If you're new to the band listen to this album, their most focused first, give it a good 20 spins and then venture into the older material. Valonielu (a void that sucks in light in particular) is their most easily approached album, yet it isn't easy at all. It doesn't uncover the bands full potential, glimpses of which can be heard on the earlier releases. However personally I feel this is their best yet. And like always the production is flawless.

Recommended tracks: Vino Verso, Ympyrä On Viiva Tomussa

Valonielu - 86%

Buarainech, January 31st, 2014

Prejudging bands before we've heard a note of their music is a bad habit, but its something we all do, and in such a music-saturated world it is slightly necessary. After all, there is so much music getting released now, even if you only focus on one or two genre niches, so filtering some stuff out before it ever reaches your speakers based on band name, artwork, listen influences, label of release, touring buddies, shared members or whatever it may be is an essential practice. I like to think that I have a pretty good bullshit detector and more often than not my choices are the right ones. Oranssi Pazuzu are one that I am glad to report I was dead dead wrong about. Maybe it was the name which has always reminded me of the fruit orange (which is what “oranssi” means in Suomi oddly enough!), or maybe I was in a phase of only liking music with Punk simplicity so was put off by anything with the “Psychedelic” tag. It was my loss, up until recently at least, and after hearing Oranssi Pazuzu for the first time with this album I'm relishing the prospect of checking out their previous 2 albums soon as well.

The reasons why Oranssi Pazuzu have clicked with me so much are twofold. For one, their Psychedelic elements are a lot more tasteful than I assumed they'd be. “Reikä maisemassa” for example extols some pretty dark Krautrock vibes similar to another of Svart's releases this year, the also brilliant Seremonia, while some of the riffing on “Olen aukaissut uuden silmän” is very similar in style to the latest Tribulation album. I also like the sense of child-like wonderment that comes across in some of the Psych parts on this album too, particularly on “Tyhjä temppeli”, which contrasts nicely with the more drug-fuelled approach of bands who attempt this hybrid style. It's refreshing to here music classing itself as Psychedelic which you don't need to be on drugs to enjoy, and in general this album is wonderfully unpretentious, and surprisingly accessible as well and very song-oriented. Colour me surprised, I fully expected something much more unenjoyable.

The other factor I love about this is how real and raw the Black Metal parts are. It's an issue I have with a lot of Post-Black Metal bands and that spectrum is their focussing only on the “beautiful” elements of Black Metal and ignoring almost all of its sound and history. Not with Oranssi Pazuzu though. 90's Avant-Garde stuff like Ved Buens Ende would probably be expected to be the main point of comparison, but the sound of the Black Metal parts here are much more old school. One the rather doomy “Uraanisula” for example I hear some Root/Tormentor-style primitive darkness churning, and opening track “Vino verso” captures that 80's/90's demo feel of the gear threatening to fall apart at any moment.

What's more is how well this mixes with the Psychedelic and spacey elements, both musically but also ideologically. At no point does the use of Psychedelia conflict with the Black Metal credo, as undoubtedly all this musical experimentation comes from a place of honesty. There's no cherrypicking of Metal sounds and ignoring its ethos to suit like a lot of “post”-Metal bands do, no vulgar displays of “look how progressive we are!”, no self-indulgence, no attempting to score scene points by flirting with Metal... This is just a seamless synthesis of two styles that makes musical sense and is done for the right reasons. I will say this is the last time I read an album by its cover, but I know that it won't be. [8/10]

From WAR ON ALL FRONTS A.D. 2013 zine-

Grounding the cosmic path. - 84%

ConorFynes, December 30th, 2013

I'm amazed that a band like Oranssi Pazuzu could manage to define themselves by such a singular sound, and still manage to develop and change over time. When it first came out in 2013, I remember thinking that Valonielu was their least impressive album. Now, I'm thinking it's possibly their best. It has everything to do with the band's decision to focus on this album. Muukalainen puhuu opened their career with an incredibly creative set of songs that did everything psychedelic black metal could be expected of. Kosmonument followed up with a much more sombre kind of atmosphere, fleshing out the style and expanding it to near-excess. It is fairly common form for progressive bands to reel back after pushing themselves so far, but it's not often that it actual works to the music's benefit. Leave it to Oranssi Pazuzu to be an exception in many cases.

I can see why Valonielu didn't hit me quite as hard upon its release. It doesn't have a lot of the playful camp of its predecessors. Instead, it sounds like the band finally matured at some point directly prior to Valonielu. Whatever goofy charm it may have lost in translation is far outweighed by the improvements Oranssi Pazuzu made here. This is the first album of theirs where I feel the songwriting was finally consistently up to par with their ambitions. Much less was left up to chance this time around. If anything major changed between Kosmonument and Valonielu, they obviously became confident with their unique psych-black fusion that they no longer felt the need to overtly showcase the template. At last, the material was written with substance over style in mind. Saying that is by no means a condemnation of what they've done before-- Oranssi Pazuzu were great from the start; it's just that Valonielu gives a much easier time of remembering it track for track than the couple of records it followed.

Valonielu's songwriting may be more memorable, but memorable songwriting also results in a greater number of standout moments. Oranssi Pazuzu continued their tradition of fantastic opener tracks with "Vino verso"; the fuzzy starting riff atop thick bass synth has probably etched a permanent place in my memory. The same easily applies to "Tyhjä temppeli" as well, an eerie groove-driven piece that near-perfectly demonstrates everything brilliant about this band. And if we're talking about particular standout moments, the explosive climax on "Olen aukaissut uuden silmän" (complete with Jun-His' best recorded scream to date) is one of the most cathartic things I've probably heard in modern black metal. I'm sure there's some charm lost by the fact that Oranssi Pazuzu were no longer wearing their style on their sleeve when Valonielu dropped, but repeated listening has only gone to prove this was an incredibly smart move.

While I'm sure many people hearing Valonielu will have had at least some experience of their prior work before, I'm sure the music would still seem incredibly strange to a newcomer. In a way, it really is no less odd than the work they did before. The change obviously lies with the fact that Oranssi Pazuzu had finally figured out how to properly harness a sound they themselves had largely innovated. They started out as a great band, and it seems like they're only set to improve with each coming album.

Onward to the Outer Limits - 80%

thedevilyouknow, November 14th, 2013

All systems go, prepare for liftoff. T-minus 10 seconds and counting, nine, eight, seven, six, five, four, three, two, one....we have liftoff. Oranssi Pazuzu's third mission to the outer reaches of space titled 'Valonielu' has the Finnish quintet pushing their spacey psychedelic black metal sound further. After the first two full lengths, 2009's Muukalainen Puhuu' and 2011's 'Kosmonument' did a good job of putting "space" between them and their peers, 'Valonielu' separates them completely. Some comparisons can be made to Chicago's Nachtmystium, but where Nachtmystium's psychedelia feels more drug fueled, Oranssi Pazuzu has a more spacey sound. One can imagine flying through the outer limits of the solar system into some dark abyss, where the unknown and unexplained reign supreme.

'Valonielu' opens with "Vino Verso", this song has a crushing bass sound, similar to Godflesh. Though the song is very linear, playing the same riff for the entire 4:52, the spaced out guitar effects and the keyboards keep the song interesting. I also must mention that the production on this album is incredible and brings out each layer of the music to its fullest. I believe the production here is what makes the spacey psychedelia work so well (everything is in perfect balance in the mix). The next track "Tyhja Temppeli" follows this same model. Another very linear song with little variation, yet the cosmic sounds from the layering of guitars and the trippy keyboards draw the listener in while the bass is so smooth and the drums keep the low end heavy as hell. Jun-His' vocal approach is also top notch, his harsh voice that never goes too high or too low keeps the black metal vibe while allowing the instrumentation to explore different territories while managing to keep it all cohesive. These first two track serve as the launch, propelling the rocket out of Earth's atmosphere and into a valley of stars.

If the first two tracks serve as the launch, then the next two are after the boosters detach themselves from the rocket as it floats towards it's destination. The first of which is the almost twelve minute long "Uraanisula". This song has the band doing its best doom impression. Slow and eerie as the rhythm section retains its repetitiveness, while the guitars and keyboards produce sounds creating a sci-fi atmosphere. This goes on for about the first eight minutes, then it goes into a chaotic black metal frenzy for the last four minutes. "Reika Maisemassa" follows that as the perfect interlude between the albums first three tracks and the last two. An instrumental with soundtrack qualities, think "Arboria (Planet of the Tree Men)" off Queen's 'Flash Gordon'.

Keeping with my theme, the last two tracks serve as the approach and eventual landing at whatever destination this mission was set for. "Olen Aukaissut Uuden Silman", which is the most black metal song on the album, takes off with some speed. Most of this the album is mid-paced to slower. This song resembles Nachtmystium's "Decimation, Annihilation", taking the "cult" black metal approach while still maintaining all the psychedelia. Everything mentioned above leads up to the epic fifteen minute closer "Ympyra OnVilva Tomussa", this song starts off slow and soft resembling Pink Floyd's "Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun". It the builds to an amazing climatic finish. This is the perfect closer.

'Valonielu' is a fantastic album. I believe that one should definitely listen to their previous works to fully appreciate what this band has to offer. They have shown progression from each release to the next. 'Valonielu' takes the strongest elements from their prior releases and puts them all together here. Although, I can not read Finnish, this album has the feel of a concept album. Each track is necessary and seems to have the flow of a solitary concept. Oranssi Pazuzu is at the top of the black metal ladder currently along side Blut aus Nord, Deathspell Omega and Mayhem. They offer an original, creative sound and prove that they are not going away anytime soon. Rush out to your local record store or visit your favorite online store and get this into your hands as soon as possible

Originally written for

More mature but less cosmically enthralling - 85%

cycophilo, November 4th, 2013

Although this is my first review here, I have listened to tons of different styles and bands (inside and outside metal) and what I have always liked with Oranssi Pazuzu is that they are able to blend several styles from different scenes and times which have almost nothing in common and so make pure black metal evolve into something more challenging and captivating. They have pushed this concept to a point where they cannot be described as a black metal band anymore, as the percentage of BM contained in their music has lowered a lot to let the other influences shine more in this musical kaleidoscope. Still, the raspy vocals and occasional BM riffing and drumming are still here for those who wonder, but only as parts of the songs, not for a whole song.

For me, their best work is still their first album "Muukalainen puhuu" that not only has got the most memorable, catchy and captivating songs they wrote, but also this unbelievably wide soundstage and precise mix work that creates an unique atmosphere. "Kosmonument" was bit of a disappointment as there were more influences thrown in but not perfectly blended together, so as a whole I felt like this album was lacking balance and creativity (obvious Blut Aus Nord rip-off on some weird passages, and many thanks to Bathory and Darkthrone on the black metal parts).

So what we have on this new album is a band that has completely digested all its influences and uses them in a more personal and coherent way, exactly like Enslaved did with "Below the lights" after the mixed bag that was "Monumension". "Valonielu" shows diversity of ambiances and influences in nearly every song, like in "Kosmonument", although this time the whole thing is kept balanced and focused, thanks to the skillfully song craft of the musicians and the outstanding production job which succeeds to highlight the great work done on keyboards, which are now a most crucial part of Oranssi Pazuzu's music and atmosphere. Their diversity and inventiveness create layers of sounds that fit and complement the music perfectly, but unfortunately it has sometimes a bad side effect: in some songs, I feel like the other instruments, and the parts they are playing, do not meet the high standard set by the keyboards and tend to sound more generic, especially the guitars. Yes, once again, this album is almost perfect in any objective account, but it rarely revives the greatness of the first one.

It is hard to describe each song individually as the pretty constant tempo (from heavy to mid tempo, most of the time) and the systematic use of targeted composition skills makes this sound like an edited concept album, and after 3 listens, iIcannot think about a song that stands out, although all of them are at least very good. Please remember that this is a highly subjective comment, but my rating is completely objective as any album that brings such a set of musical and production skills, along with a will to offer something different, should receive no less than this rating.

This said, I have red a lot of praises about the creativity and originality of this band so I think it is useful to remind that Oranssi Pazuzu never invented anything as they are blending styles of music that existed way before them as psych, prog rock, kraut rock, early 80's cold wave and black metal. Even the way of displaying and blending together these influences in their songs is not revolutionary: for instance, the way they play quiet psych parts obviously owes to intros or parts of songs by Enslaved (I dare to say that without the intro of the songs "entrance" on "Mardraum" and "hollow inside" on "Monumension", Oranssi Pazuzu would have not sounded the same).

I should also mention some neo-psych bands, especially Electric Moon and their treated guitar and bass sounds that sure paved the way for some of Oranssi Pazuzu's psychedelic digressions. Also, listen to the break of the song "Karmic Wheel" and the intro of the song "Depression Unrest", both featured on "Renewal" by Kreator and then listen again to Oranssi Pazuzu's first album, it is very revealing. The same goes with the new wave/cold wave influences, Kreator did some Killing Joke and Bauhaus rip-off on their album "Endorama" almost 15 years before. And I could go on like this with way older and more obscure references: go to Youtube, type "parasites of the western world accessories" and listen to what is real creativity in genre mixing 30 years before Oranssi Pazuzu, although a part of what Oranssi Pazuzu is can be heard in "Accessories", which is one of the greatest rock songs ever.

Last but not least, the vinyl pressing sounds amazingly analogic in the noblest sense of the term, comparing to the cd version, and should be considered by old timers that began to listen to rock music when cd did not exist, like I did.