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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- www.facebook.com/waronallfronts