Music that takes you places in your mind is a queer phenomenon. How the hell did the mind associate certain patterns of molecular vibrations in the air with such far-flung imagery as the cold depths of interstellar space and impossibly colorful dreamscapes in the first place anyway? To answer my own question because I’m solipsistic like that: unicorns. Also: invisible fairies sitting on your shoulders that are hosing liquid fairy dust into your ears [Calling Dr. Feud! — Steel Druhm]. And oh, don’t forget about those psychic ants chewing and burrowing into your brain’s numerous ridges.
Where did those lovely creatures come from? Why, from the hypnotic fog that is the music of Finland’s Oranssi Pazuzu, of course. Valonielu is the band’s third full-length album, and it features a psychedelic black metal quintet playing music that sounds serene and surreal one moment and meanly groovy the next — the perfect soundtrack to catalyze the growth of unicorns, invisible fairies and psychic ants in Fogland no matter what season it may be. Aye sirs and ma’ams, unicorns, invisible fairies and psychic ants are really grown and harvested like corn. 100% organic; no toxic pesticides or chemical fertilizers used.
By combining elements of psychedelic rock, doom and traditional Scandinavian black metal, Oranssi Pazuzu, which is Finnish for “Orange Pazuzu” the way, concocts a mind-numbing aural drug so potent that it melts your brain into a puddle of gooey, glowing-blue manure to fertilize Fogland soil with. (That’s why you’re thinking this review reads strangely, silly.)
And it should be brought to everyone’s attention that upon seeing this band’s normal name for the first time, Mr. Steel Druhm-Druhm said that it sounded like part of an evil incantation when read together with some other similarly normal band names he saw in the Angry Metal Guy Promo List™. Well, he was spot-on. Happy Metal Guy actually grew self-aware after chanting it and stopped referring to Happy Metal Guy from the third-person view… or did he?
The generally sluggish pace of the music, raspy screams, audibility of the throbbing bass line (due to a well-balanced audio mix), fuzzed-out electric guitar riffs, extensive use of guitar feedback, sci-fi synths, minimalistic drumming, inaudible fairy laughter, inaudible unicorn neighing and psychic-ant mind-blasts all contribute to making, as the band itself has stated before, “[M]usic that invites all the arsonists and smokers to hold hands.” If you think that made as much sense as this review so far… great for you! You’re certainly thinking straight.
As a six-track aural foray into the glittery and flittery, Vanonielu is as enjoyable as it is strange. But the inconsistency of individual track lengths ruins the transcendental experience a little, because third track “Uraanisula” [11:53] and sixth track “Ympyrä On Viiva Tomussa” [15:11] are both needlessly lengthy. When put together, these songs make up more than half of the album’s 46-minute playtime, and yet each of them uses half (or more) of their duration just to build up to something remotely stirring.
This occasional long-windedness could be due to the atmospheric/doom part of their chosen musical style asserting. But the other four tracks of Valonielu average only about four or five minutes in length while still managing to accomplish that atmospheric effect and/or have doom paced buildups, so it does seem like the band can afford to be inspirationally economical and maximize the listeners’ time, if they want to.
Slow is the new fast in extreme metal these days. But it gets banal and, frankly, annoying when more than a handful of bands that are trying to be “different” rely on this musical device to focus on “atmosphere ‘n’ shit” and relegate the primitive groove or hook—that, let’s face it, resonates with everyone’s inner, horns-throwing Neanderthal—to a lesser role.
Oranssi Pazuzu’s musical ability to take your mind places and manifest weird creatures ought to be lauded. But their occasional tendency to create lengthier-than-necessary songs with overly-draggy intros could be curbed to produce more internally consistent albums in the future that will better engage their audience. Either that or they make every track equally long-winded, which might or might not scare away the unicorns, invisible fairies and psychic ants and make the experience less mystic [This review used up your unicorn allotment for the year. — Steel Druhm].