Oranssi Pazuzu – Mestarin Kynsi


With a name-stake after the Mesopotamian demon king of the wind, Oranssi Pazuzu appeared as if they’ve been conjured by Mr. Crowley himself to bless the new century. Now arriving at their fifth full album, Mestarin Kynsi is a landmark achievement in their history of colourful darkness. The album title translates from Finnish to ‘The Master’s Claw’, alluding to a fictional figure who manufactures a dystopia by indoctrinating people through nefarious black magic and mind control. In a similar way to Australian Garage and Psychedelic outfits King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard and Oh Sees, Oranssi Pazuzu combine krautrock with fuzzy guitars and the lush arrangements of psychedelia, only this time with a distinguished black metal veil. What’s not to love? 

‘Illmestys’ pulls the lever amidst swirling guitar and keyboard arpeggios where the motorik rhythms begin. Choral voices, pulsating drums and synths slowly layer until Juho Vanhanen’s malevolent growls begin to converse with themselves and the song explodes into fuzzy keyboard driven riffs, transporting listeners to Mestarrin Kynsi’s technocratic dystopia. The motorik cyclical rhythms and sprinklings of electronics throughout are somehow reminiscent of the dark and lush soundscapes of Massive Attack. You can imagine oppressive brutalist structures shooting up into dark clouds from the outset.

The biggest standouts are the two middle tracks. First, ‘Uusi Teknokratia,’ where a flute flutters in and out of the song like a distant apocalyptic warning, followed by an instrumental breakdown into a sparse polyphonic chorus with the emergent ticking of a clock. Much in the likeness of the spine-chilling choral ambience you could find on a Coil project, this section imbues the song with occult and spiritual undertones. All instruments then start to mimic the ticking and coalesce to spur on the frenetic kosmische rhythms once more. Then in ‘Oikeamielisten Sali’, violins play over a tribal rhythm section that sound as if the strings are melting out of the song. While a recognisable formula by the time you reach this stage, both compositions fall into an explosive psychedelic jam towards the end with all the impact of the sun’s rays piercing through to the underworld as the violin and flute become a driving force in each. 

On the latter half of the album, the electronic brilliance of ‘Kuulen Ääniä Maan Alta’ has the keyboards take centre stage again, composing a piece where metal and electronica meet in surprising harmony. The apocalyptic finale of ‘Taivaan Portti’ sees the listener out with blast beats and shimmering violins into a dark night. You’ll need a moment after it ends to consider what just happened.

Though effortless, Oranssi Pazuzu’s foray into avant-garde metal is an instant classic, using challenging and unconventional instruments in a black metal ensemble that ebb and flow throughout the track list and add a cinematic elegance to Mestarin Kynsi’s grim future. The electronic and psychedelic parts of this album might vex black metal purists, but this is an album that looks to the future both in concept and sound and executes this prognostication with grace.

JS


Verdict


Release Date: 17/04/2020

Record Label: Nuclear Blast

Standout tracks: Uusi Teknokratia, Oikeamielisten Sali, Kuulen Ääniä Maan Alta

Suggested Further Listening: Liturgy – H.A.Q.Q (2019), Murmuüre – Murmuüre (2010), Akhlys – The Dreaming I (2015)