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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

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