Mestarin kynsi

Nuclear Blast
rating icon 10 / 10

Track listing:

1. Ilmestys
2. Tyhjyyden sakramentti
3. Uusi teknokratia
4. Oikeamielisten sali
5. Kuulen ääniä maan alta
6. Taivaan portti

While loosely categorized as black metal, there has never been anything straightforward about the sounds generated by Finland's ORANSSI PAZUZU throughout their decade-long existence. Their musical output so far is definitely discordant enough to earn the genre tag, and the vocals — shared by guitarist Jun-His, bassist/keyboardist Ontto, and keyboardist/percussionist EviL — are hauntingly corrosive and blood curdling. The group will start though with black metal as a basic launching point and endeavor on a path loaded with twists and turns through psychedelic jazz, synthesizer-driven movie scores, and krautrock, all while maintaining an ominously dark aura. The results are the aural equivalent of an acid trip gone horribly awry, and in the end, come off as scarier and more dangerous than the latest pretenders to the black metal throne who are donning corpse paint and recycling old MAYHEM riffs on self-released demo cassettes.

The group's latest effort, "Mestarin kynsi", is the group's most spectacular descent into psychedelic musical madness to date. More overtly accessible metal sounds have taken more and more of a backseat as the band's musical progression has evolved, and this album establishes the band's ambitions fairly quickly. "Ilmestys" begins the record with a slow-burning collage of tribal drumming from Korjak, sitar-like guitar work from Ikon, a disturbingly rumbling bass line from Ontto and science-fiction sound effects before a discomforting assortment of vocal grunts begins to emanate after a few minutes. Harder riffs and heavier drums don't begin until the five-minute mark, but the group has already built up such a sense of menacing dread by then that the final few minutes become a musical catharsis.

ORANSSI PAZUZU never lets up on balancing their more sprawling musical endeavors with a sense of grounded terror. "Tyhjyyden sakramentti" begins with an engagingly jazzy interplay between bass and drums before it descends into a cacophonic barrage of shred-guitar freak outs, frantic drumming, and krautrock sound effects. "Oikeamielisten sali" lures the listener in with a hypnotic orchestral drone, before more bass-line driven musical chaos ensues and the orchestral sounds — now lurking underneath caustic vocal grunts and squealing guitars — take a more threatening turn in their own right. The opening drum assault of "Kuulen ääniä maan alta" evokes a warped take on the rhythm of LED ZEPPELIN's "Immigrant Song" before the vocalists unleash the record's most voracious growls. The most overtly metal track of the album closes everything out, though the impressive seven-minute barrage of drumming from Korjak and guitar work on "Taivaan portti" is still quite trippy.

Norwegian avant-metal greats SHINING (no) coined the phrase blackjazz with their 2010 album of the same name, inspired by band leader/saxophonist Jorgen Munkeby's enthusiastic mixing of his jazz background with black metal's noisy assault after collaborating with acts such as ENSLAVED. ORANSSI PAZUZU does not have a horn section, but given the band's ability to maintain an aura of ominous metallic doom amidst their efforts at more ambitious musical disorientation, one could make a strong case for "Mestarin kynsi" being blackjazz's next evolution.

Author: Jason Roche
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