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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.