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Finland's cosmonauts return to stretch black metal to the breaking point and in turn, create one of the best albums of 2016 thus far.


Album Review: ORANSSI PAZUZU Värähtelijä

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The vastness of introspection reflects the vastness of space. A person's internal explorations are limitless much as the boundaries of the universe. A wandering mind can slip into the gravity of a memory, dragging it down into an atmosphere of vivid recollection. Galaxies expand, as do cogitations. The mind can drift aimlessly amid random thought nebulae and can race like comets through a night sky. Numerous similarities can be drawn between the expanses of the cosmos and the internal workings of the psyche. It is between this mirror where we find Oranssi Pazuzu on their magnificent, fourth full-length album, Värähtelijä.

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This newest installation into the Finnish, cosmic black metallurgists' discography is deeply immersive and a stellar display of genre contortion. Värähtelijä follows up their 2013 album, Valonielu, which now sounds like a roughly recorded demo after hearing Oranssi Pazuzu's newest album. This is not to sleight their prior efforts, but to heap praise onto how great Värähtelijä truly is. The group has taken massive strides forward in the last two to three years. The album spans seventy minutes over the course of seven separate journeys. Every moment puts massive torsion on black metal purity and stretches the genre to its outermost limits. In fact, the only true black metal moments on this record erupt from the throat of vocalist, Jun-His. Much of the instrumentation teeters on the brink of avant-garde or progressive metal without ever fully committing to those genres' norms.

Värähtelijä is an album to be steeped in. Its echoing guitars and searing synths/sound effects can be meditative at times, take the album's second song, "Lahja", or the title track for example. Jun-His contributes his "close distance guitar" to oppose Moit's "deep space guitar", creating a reverberating layer of strings throughout the album. Korjak's drums and Ontto's bass provide a metronome that set the pace for the duration of the album, and Evill's synth wizardry adds a spacey psychedelia to top it all off. Värähtelijä also draws from krautrock influences throughout like Popul Voh, and calls on shoegaze for the album's closing song, "Valveavaruus". There is such an expansion to Oranssi Pazuzu's sound on their latest album. Their music has become much more than a black metal space ship, it has become a medium for contemplation.

The album's greatest moments, without a doubt, are "Hypnotisoitu Viharukous" and "Vasemman Käden Hierarkia". Värähtelijä's heaviest and most diverse tracks, the latter being a seventeen-and-a-half-minute epic, celestial composition. "Hypnotisoitu Viharukous" rips between rolling guitar licks and drum patterns that are accompanied by a shrieking orchestra of synths and weightless lulls of hypnotizing, sustained notes. "Vasemman Käden Hierarkia", has the album's most black metal moments instrumentally between the fifth and sixth minutes before slipping back into floating guitar fuzz. This ambient section is then jettisoned into oblivion before a roar from Jun-His and wailing alarms from Evill's synths enter the track's atmosphere and close out the song.

Holistically viewing Oranssi Pazuzu's Värähtelijä, it is worthy to say this album is an early and strong contender for one of metal's best albums of the year. The band has made immense advances on their sound and have continued to make great new music that is better than their prior efforts, all while not dramatically altering what has made them successful in the past. This fourth full-length album is vividly unique and incredibly thought-invoking. It is the kind of album you can put on, lay flat on your back and go on a journey through the depths of your mind. Värähtelijä is an overall incredible piece of fluid, cosmic black metal.

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Score: 9.5/10

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