Words and Photos by Stefan Raduta.
What happened on the night of May 28th at Saint Vitus Bar in Brooklyn is nothing short of a Miracle. There is no other word for what unfolded in front of our eyes, in that room, that night. Oh wait there may be just one: Catharsis.
Oranssi Pazuzu was one of those utterly unique performances that will not only grow in our collective consciousness and stand the test of time, but gave me a reason to hope that maybe, just maybe, there is hope after all for truly groundbreaking music to penetrate this country in spite of all adversity. To me, discovering such genuine and exciting bands are what being a metal head is all about, and doesn't happen often enough.
I decided to write a few words about their performance on Friday, even if I’ve convinced myself it’s pointless trying to find the right way to do so. If only because Friday night, at this sold out show (what a beautiful surprise that was), there was not one single cell phone in the air. People were there to experience something many thought they’d never get the opportunity to. They were there for the music. You could feel it in the air, you could cut the excitement with a knife despite all the smiles and friendly faces. People were actually even nervous, and the room was packed one hour before the aliens even went on stage. Because they are aliens, are they not? They gotta be.
Friday was one of those Moments in Life. Drunken with utter joy and all kinds of high, I found myself by the sound board with teary eyes (strong men also cry Mr. Lebowsky…) and just got that full body itch to say something about what I was feeling, and I couldn’t get rid of it. I immediately texted Frank of Metal Injection to express my utmost dire and urgent need for poetic relief, heh. The occasion? Oranssi Pazuzu performed their first ever concert on American soil, and boy did that not last very long at all, because we were propelled into outer space by this utterly sublime spacecraft from Tampere.
I’ve been almost obsessively following this band throughout Europe for the last five years. Their first Roadburn Festival performance in 2012 left me not only numb with disbelief, but hungry for more. Oranssi Pazuzu had somehow become my drug, much like other truly unique entities some of you may know I have an affiliation with – Aluk Todolo, Virus, Year Of No Light and so on. A year later I followed them at Romania’s Dark Bombastic Evening in Alba Iulia. A year later in 2014 it was Oslo’s Inferno Festival where surprisingly enough they played the John Dee, even if they stole the fest as expected. I remember a funny story about that one, Einz (owner Duplicate Records, drummer in Virus) made it very clear from the very beginning that Oranssi Pazuzu were the only band he cared to see for the entire fest, on a serious bill with so many headliners. Which he did, of course – a man of his word. The only time Einz actually left the Kniven Bar that weekend, where I think he was also DJing one night, was to see them. This gig was to be followed by two more consecutive Roadburn Festival appearances that of course I couldn’t miss, the last one finally putting Oranssi Pazuzu on the main festival stage, Walter having no other choice but to give in to the immense public pressure – close to a thousand people the year before were unable to see them because of the stage choice. It was corrected, and you couldn’t drop a needle in the main hall this year.
My friend Julia wrote a few words about her fist encounter with the Finnish space station: Finnish psych black metallers Oranssi Pazuzu took the main stage to creeping fog and an ominous backlit stage. They’re not a shock and awe kind of band; instead, they reel you in like a hypnosis patient. Pazuzu conjured an atmosphere entirely their own, a consuming and abyssal vortex of textures and sounds commanded flawlessly by frontman Juho Vanhanen. About halfway through “Vasemman käden hierarkia”, as the guitar swelled and the main riff reprised into a slow, doomy climax, Vanhanen raised his arms slowly, and the sheer weight of the experience overwhelmed me. Tears welled up in my eyes. This is why I came to Roadburn – to witness a set like this, the kind that keeps you going weeks later simply because it happened. Read More: Roadburn 2017 Day Three
Look: if you never listened to their albums, you couldn't understand any of this. If you are familiar with their records but never seen them riding it through the orbit in front of your eyes, live, like you should experience all music, you still couldn't possibly understand. Basically, you have to live this in order to truly get a chance at wrapping your mind around it. Once more, words fail me. I don't see the point. So here's a few photos instead.
Tonight, Maryland Death Fest is in for the treat of a lifetime. I envy each and every single one of you who will see this band for the first time, tonight. You will remember this. Whatever Oranssi Pazuzu are doing with music, I don’t want it to ever stop. And neither should you. We need this band like we need oxygen, ya hear?
“Without music, life would be a mistake.” E M Cioran
For more beautiful Oranssi Pazuzu images from Stefan, check out the links below:
Full Oranssi Pazuzu photo set at Saint Vitus Bar.
Full Oranssi Pazuzu photo set at Roadburn Festival 2012.
Full Oranssi Pazuzy photo set at Inferno Festival 2014.
Stefan Raduta lives for music, puts his money where his words are, and doesn’t give a shit about Twitter. Follow him on facebook right here.
Special thanks to Evan and the MDF collective for making this a reality for us all, here. Good job Sir. David, Arty, George and everyone at Saint Vitus for a memorable Friday night. Frank at Metal Injection for the last minute help with the stress relief situation. Whew! My friend Nikos for watching over the aliens. You rule man!