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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)