Oranssi Pazuzu – Mestarin kynsi Review

Oranssi Pazuzu is something of an enigma. For the past decade, these Finnish purveyors of psychedelic black metal have imposed their twisting, churning take on trance-like fury to the unwitting masses with music as dense as it is confusing, as confusing as it is enjoyable, and as enjoyable as it is dense. It has come to my attention that this will be the third time Oranssi Pazuzu have been reviewed on Angry Metal Guy, and that I will be the third unique reviewer to do so; I’ve been informed that Happy Metal Guy is “‘definitely’ alive and well,” and that Jean-Luc Ricard is “perfectly fine, now stop asking difficult questions,” but you still have to wonder if that’s a coincidence. I was surprised to see that Mestarin kynsi, the band’s fifth full-length, still needed reviewing…

I’m sure it’s fine. Onto the music! Mestarin kynsi is an eclectic blend of chaotic synths, unpredictable drumming, wild shrieks, and not-quite-black-metal-but-not-not-black-metal-either riffing. Opener “Ilmestys” is a slow, yet effective burn, building up on waves of synths that fill the listener with dark energy before the full band launches into a furious storm of towering, trance-inducing black metal. Mestarin kynsi is at its best when it walks this careful line of furious and psychedelic tendencies. “Uusi teknokratia” walks said line in reverse, building on gritty riffing and the album’s wildest shrieks before slowly unwinding into a synth-laden pool that grips the mind and doesn’t let go. It also has a vaguely Sigh-like vibe to it in the form of abrupt, electric flute work, which works really well for the song.

In an album of fifty minutes, Mestarin kynsi feels like it is formed from two distinct halves. Musically, not a lot changes with Oranssi Pazuzu after the first twenty-five minutes, but “Oikeamielisten sali” hits very differently from the preceding three songs. There’s a bit less reason to the rhyme, a little more wildness in the mix, and a lot more bloat across the whole. Closer “Taivaan portti” similarly incorporates the fewest synths and the most chaos, shattering what’s left of the trance and instead pushing a dense and highly unforgiving narrative. It’s sort of startling how well the first half of Mestarin kynsi takes hold of my attention, and how consistently the back half fails to. It makes the album a challenging listen for sure; it’s consistent in its inconsistency, but when it works, it works very well.

Turning to the production, you’ll find very few surprises. The album feels a little over-compressed, with the bass making precious few appearances and the guitars fading in and out of relevance as the synths demand. Despite the absence of tremolos and blast beats, Oranssi Pazuzu absolutely feels like a black metal band, and the ever-so-slightly claustrophobic production is a big part of that. Mestarin kynsi sounds the best, however, when it is balancing both metal and psychedelic elements at once, where the guitars become a little less prominent. As the black metal “side” takes over in tracks like “Taivaan portti,” the album becomes seemingly louder and harsher. Essentially, the production works, but is also highlights the album’s innate inconsistencies.

Mestarin kynsi is as mixed an album as I can recall reviewing. Its fifty minutes are almost perfectly divided into sounds I enjoy and sounds I don’t care for. When it works, it really works, and when it doesn’t, I’m left confused. I won’t discount the possibility that I simply don’t “get it,” but I don’t think it’s the case here; Oranssi Pazuzu’s output here just fails to capture the band’s full potential. I have a compulsion to continue trying to explain myself, but my feelings on this record really are that simple. It works, and then it doesn’t.1

Rating: 2.5/5.0
DR: 6 | Format Reviewed: 276 kbps mp3
Label: Nuclear Blast Records
Websitesoranssipazuzu.site | oranssipazuzu.bandcamp.com | facebook.com/oranssipazuzuband
Released Worldwide: April 17th, 2020

Show 1 footnote

  1. Report to HR for a…chat. – Steel
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