Album Review: Oranssi Pazuzu breaks the language barrier with “Värähtelijä”

Black metal has been going through somewhat of a renaissance in the last few years. Bands such as Deafheaven have pioneered what some people are calling “blackgaze” by combining both elements of classic black metal and shoegaze.

With their fourth studio album “Värähtelijä,” Oranssi Pazuzu does the same thing to post-punk and post-rock that Deafheaven did to shoegaze and it’s absolutely incredible.

Unfortunately, the album is in Finnish, so I can’t comment on this album’s lyricism, but with just a look at the cover art, it’s safe to assume that it touches on some dark themes.

This is one monster of an album. The seven tracks clock in at an hour and ten minutes. It’ll definitely be an investment of your time, but it’s well worth it.

Each song has its own distinct sound. The opening track, “Saturaatio,” starts out sounding quite a bit like something Godspeed You! Black Emperor would have put out in the early 2000s, especially the droning background guitars. But by the time the guttural vocals kick in, Oranssi Pazuzu lets listeners know that this sound is uniquely theirs.

This song’s sound shifts around the three-minute mark, surprisingly introducing classic, Zeppelin-esque organs backed by cymbal-filled drums and a flanger-heavy guitar solo before shifting once more into a deep, metal groove.

For the most part, the vocals on this record are left in the background, letting the layered and sometimes chaotic instrumentation be the driving force of the project. However, they are front and center on the second track, “Lahja.”

This song takes some elements from sludge metal and slows things down quite a bit. The sluggish guitar riff repeats over and over for the track’s entire eight-minute runtime.

Vocalist Jun-His’ growls echo throughout. The band’s diverse instrumentation shines here with the inclusion of a sparkling vibraphone melody.

The title track, “Värähtelijä,” can easily be confused for a current-era Swans song thanks to the repetitive guitar and moaning vocals. In no way is this a bad thing.

I can’t stress enough the variety found within this project. There’s something for just about any adventurous music listener here and the band definitely wears its influences on its sleeve.

A highlight of this record is “Hypnotisoitu Viharukous.” It’s one of the loudest and most intense songs to be released this year. Here we have prominent tremolo guitars accompanied by an extremely energetic synthesizer. The vocal delivery three minutes into this track is by far the best on the entire record and the bassline on the bridge before the climax has been stuck in my head for days.

The final three songs are some of the longest in the track list. I won’t get into too much detail on these behemoths because they need to be experienced to be truly appreciated. Once again, I am reminded of Swans’ record “The Seer,” not necessarily because of the way the band sounds, but because of the way these tracks flow – they’re long but at no point do they feel tedious or drawn-out.

The one issue I have with this entire record is the ending. This entire record is incredibly brutal, but the final track just fades out. A record like this deserves to go out on a bang, not just wither into nothingness. Of course, this just may be me nitpicking.

Albums like this are the reason I encourage people to get out of their musical comfort zones. The band took several sonic ideas from some truly talented groups and mashed them together with enough of their own unique additions to make something amazing.

Even listeners that aren’t into black metal can find some enjoyment out of this project. For fans of groups like Swans, Deafheaven and Godspeed this record is a must listen.

The album is available for download from Oranssi Pazuzu’s official bandcamp page and the iTunes store and can be streamed in full on Spotify.

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