REVIEW: ORANSSI PAZUZU – “Mestarin Kynsi”
Experimental and avant-garde metal; people either seem to love it or to hate it. Personally I love it. Along with (and combined) with the progressive metal, it’s my favorite of the myriad of metal subgenres out there. And one of the best bands doing it is Finland’s Oranssi Pazuzu, who are set to release their deliciously chaotic ‘Mestarin Kynsi’ (The Masters Claw) in mid-April. As a relatively new fan of the band, this was the first of their releases I could look forward to, and it does not disappoint.
The album starts off with “Ilmestys” and slow acoustic guitars, and electric keyboards. The heavy key use throughout this album is made clear from the very beginning, and electronic music is a clear influence on the album as a whole, at times reminding me of some of the classic electronic soundtracks in Italian horror films. Vocalist and guitarist Jun-His screams and roars his way through the track as it picks up heaviness, and the band’s full metal assault begins in a swirling cacophony of sounds. I, of course, don’t speak Finnish, but the image of a futuristic dystopian nightmare jumps into mind hearing it. As the band describes the album: “A new totalitarian order is established and the heretics are silenced violently,” so even without understanding the lyrics, they’re succeeding in getting their point across.
This is followed by the more standardly aggressive “Tyhjyyden sakramentti” which certainly makes one feel like they’re being forced through a mind cleansing of all thoughts, not in line with the powers that be. At the same time, the chaos and madness include some steady and solid riffs which the listener can hold onto and remain focused on as it pulls you further and further in. The riff line at times is highly memorable, and dare one admit catchy? The guitar work is sharp, and the drumming concrete while endlessly creative.
There are only six tracks, so I’m going to jump ahead to one of my favorites, the eight-minute “Oikeamielisten sali.” It begins with what sounds like hand drumming, and hypnotic, quite melodic violin use that is reminiscent of the earlier works of composers Philip Glass, and Steve Reich. Since they are two of my favorite modern composers, this is not a bad thing. The violin continues as the full band kicks in for an utterly blissful example of progressive and experimental extreme metal. The intensity builds slowly, yet perceivably, while keeping the violin humming, and at times shrieking along the bottom of the music. It’s a technique the aforementioned composers were masters of, and the band have learned their lessons very well indeed. And like all great pieces of music that build and build, eventually, they must burst open and release the tension, and the oddly beautiful result is well worth the price of the album alone.
The album closes with “Taivaan portti” and they don’t waste any time getting things going. The relentless pounding aggression of the track begins immediately, and it doesn’t really let up much. By this point, the listener might well begin to feel slightly numb to the sheer visceral nature of the album. There is simply put; a LOT going on during this album, and eventually, the taking in of more information begins to reach a saturation point. This final track while relentless is still a bit more self-contained than much of the rest of the album. It is not simplistic, but there isn’t nearly as much going on musically as there was in earlier songs, and the screams are more just that, screams, without as clear lyrical intent. This is the album’s musical equivalent to the beaten Winston admitting to loving Big Brother. Quite fitting really.
Oranssi Pazuzu have created a darkly chaotic, involving, at times oddly beautiful, and mesmerizing example of progressive and experimental metal with ‘Mestarin Kynsi.’ As with their earlier work, the band has shown its fearlessness to evolve and push the envelope of black metal further than many bands would even think of attempting, all while building on what they have done before. The sound has grown and morphed into something very unique, and very special.