Friday, April 23, 2010

Oranssi Pazuzu: Muukalainen Puhuu (2009) Review

I heard the Finnish "psychedelic" black metal band Oranssi Pazuzu recently on The Metalcast, and proceeded to buy their debut album Muukalainen Puhuu. The combination of black metal and what is essentially stoner metal intrigued me, because the usual ideologies of the two styles are so much at odds. According to the band, “Oranzzi Pazuzu makes music that lures all the arsonists and smokers to hold each others hands.”

"Oranssi" is Finnish for "orange," and Pazuzu is the king of the demons of the wind in Babylonian mythology. I suspect the name is simultaneously a reference to the demonic aspects of black metal and to the legendary stoner metal band Orange Goblin, so their name is definitely well-chosen. The cover art also fits the combined style, as you can see. I think the album title means "foreign language."

On the positive side, the music is very original, and the lyrics are all in Finnish, which is something I appreciate because I don't understand it. I find lyrics I can understand merely detract from the music. On the negative side, after I listened to it for a while, I realized the musical style is not entirely unique--Nachtmystium has been doing psychedelic black metal for the better part of a decade, and they do it with much songwriting that is more focused and polished. Oranssi Pazuzu sometimes follows an aimless psychedelic tangent, almost like they forgot where they were going--something which is quite possible given their avowed interests. Maybe they should write the whole thing before recording it, and maybe stay off the reefer while recording, too, and they could come away with something really amazing. The psychedelia should accent the black metal, not derail it.

Don't take my criticism too far, though: The album is quite good, though it obviously is not for everyone. If I hadn't already heard the amazing Nachtmystium to compare it to, I probably wouldn't have much negative to say. My favorite track is the album closer, "Kerettiläinen Vuohi," which I have embedded below for your convenience, but "Korppi," "Suuri Pää Taivaasta," and the mouthful "Myöhempien Aikojen Pyhien Teatterin Rukoilijasirkka" are all good songs.

The Verdict: If you like Nachtmystium, or you're intrigued by the unusual fusion of styles, you'll probably like Oranssi Pazuzu. Hopefully, they will show more musical maturity and polish on their next album, because they show a lot of promise that just isn't delivered quite as well as it should. Well, Nachtmystium didn't really get to where they are until their latest album either. I give Muukalainen Puhuu 3 of 5 stars. If I ever have to have surgery and get put on post-operative pain relievers, I may have to revisit it and come back with a different opinion, but I don't think that opinion will be quite so coherent.

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