Oranssi Pazuzu shows range

Cover art for Oranssi Pazuzus latest album “Värähtelijä.”

Cover art for Oranssi Pazuzu’s latest album “Värähtelijä.”

Oranssi Pazuzu is a Finnish band that has been creating waves in the underground scene with their compelling mix of black metal and spacey psychedelic rock. Their latest album, “Värähtelijä,” continues to tread new ground in a genre that has seen a fair amount of experimentation lately. According to the band’s distributor, the album’s title roughly translates to “resonator,” though my Finnish speaking sources say the meaning is closer to “oscillator” — either would be an apt description for the sonic pandemonium present on this nearly 70 minute album.

The atmosphere here is bleak but this album has a range of textures and soundscapes created by the use of 70’s style synthesizers and production. At moments there are winding melodies played from organs while the band makes heavy use of their pedals to create a looping effect reminiscent of the space and psychedelic rock progenitors Hawkwind and Pink Floyd. If it weren’t for the black metal hallmarks like the distorted tremolo picking riffs and shrieking vocals, this would be slightly more accessible to psychedelic rock fans.

Despite the distant relationship and obscure nature of both psychedelic rock and black metal, the two genres are able to converge in a manner that spurs the imagination and weaves a new sound that is at times enthralling, if not protracted.

The title track “Värähtelijä,” arguably the best on the album, begins with a subdued ambiance before settling into a fuzzy wall of distorted haze. At the same time, the wailing lead guitar can be heard phasing in and out as if to create an oscillating effect. The 17-minute epic ‘Vasemman käden hierarkia’ is another highlight and showcases the band’s ability to craft songs of monolithic proportions.

The only lowlights for me here is the band’s tendency to plod along. The album’s second track, “Lahja”, is a tepid follow-up to the crushing introduction. I am also not enamored with the vocal style of guitarist Jun-His. He’s an acceptable vocalist when it comes to black metal “shrieks,” but the standard for the genre has never been particularly high when you consider it.

Overall I thoroughly enjoyed this album and would recommend it to anyone interested in more challenging underground music or someone who is looking for something darker and experimental. Oranssi Pazuzu have been a creating an interesting aesthetic and I’m going to be paying attention to how they continue to expand upon the sound they have developed.