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Oranssi Pazuzu - "Valonielu" (CD)

Oranssi Pazuzu - "Valonielu" CD cover image

"Valonielu" track listing:

1. Vino Verso
2. Tyhjä Tempelli
3. Uraanisula
4. Reikä Maisemassa
5. Olen Aukaissut Uuden Silmän
6. Ympyrä On Viiva Tomussa

Reviewed by on October 24, 2013

"There’s a solid balance between atmospheric rock and vile black metal that isn’t frequently heard elsewhere."

A band that’s actually doing something uniquely different in black metal, Oranssi Pazuzu is a Finnish act to keep an eye on, especially for those who like their metal a little off the beaten path. “Valonielu” is a diverse offering that takes the atmosphere of spaced-out rock and filters it through minimalistic black metal, complete with hoarse screams and dark riffs. Ditching the fuzzy production so the spacey elements can have a bigger impact, the album still manages to keep up the raw and abrasive aspects black metal fans crave.

Opening with “Vino Versa,” Oranssi Pazuzu reveals its hand early, immediately bringing out the elements that characterize the entire album: namely repeating sounds to draw a listener in. The track keeps the same backing beat and riff for its entire run time, but then changes up the psychedelic elements filtering in and out. This creates what is probably best described as a “cosmic” sound, but without having to actually use spacey or sci-fi style sound effects.

The first two tracks are highly atmospheric, and also perhaps a little light on substance, without much in the way of actual riffage or memorable vocal lines. A little more meat on the bones there wouldn’t hurt, but things get heavier and more traditionally structured on the 12 minute “Uraanisula.” Normally a repetitive song over 10 minutes would rightfully have the audience hitting the fast-forward button, but it passes by surprisingly quickly and never actually feels overlong. The album has the ability to turn something that would normally be a flaw into its most potent weapon, and it somehow works well. Even the nearly 16 minute closing song doesn’t get overbearing, throwing in transitions from atmospheric strumming to harsher segments.

“Reikä Maisemassa” is like a 70’s horror movie track, and no one should be surprised if it ends up in some upcoming Rob Zombie remake. There’s nothing metal about it all, but it does have a vintage and dark atmosphere. “Olen Aukaissut Uuden Silmän” is the standout track, merging the styles best with a strong black metal presence but still plenty of psychedelic keyboard meandering.

“Valonielu” could easily be considered an “experimental” album, creating black metal that is outside the traditional norms, but not in an off-the-wall or completely avant-garde sort of way. There’s a solid balance between atmospheric rock and vile black metal that isn’t frequently heard elsewhere.

Highs: Solid combo of spacey, cosmic rock and abrasive black metal.

Lows: Some of the songs could do with more "meat" on the bone, as they are a bit sparse while focusing so heavily on the atmosphere.

Bottom line: Spacey rock and abrasive black metal are matched for a cosmic sound that's heavy on the atmosphere.

Rated 4 out of 5 skulls
4 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)