By Lord Randall

The words “psychedelic” and “black metal” are truly two fucked up bedfellows. They’re strange on the level of Jodorowsky’s worst nightmare, on the level of Donald Trump actually running for President…on the level of ORANSSI PAZUZU. Taking two more disparate musical genres and fusing them together into something even approaching listenable is. not. easy. It’s something most wouldn’t even attempt. So, then, when Phinland’s phreakish phivesome has been at it for 9 years, churning out platters not only credible, but beyond simple “alright” or “good” in most cases, they could be forgiven for engaging autopilot every now and again, right? 

 Wrong. Well, at least in the case of Varahtelija, and, yes, strangely so. When the first thing that pops into one’s head while spinning the expansive opening track ‘Saturaatio’ is “like THE TEA PARTY (but good) blended with SONIC YOUTH”, one knows it’s probably a good idea to strap in. The tribal throb possessed by ‘Lahja’ is a constant triphammer heartbeat beneath hypnotic keys, while the album’s namesake greets the listener with a wary welcome, vocal drones laid across near-monotonous instrumental meanderings. The worlds “monotonous” and “meanderings” have never had a favorable connotation  within journalism – or at least mine – but when one views Varahtelija through the lens of psychedelia as interpreted by ORANSSI PAZUZU, one begins to understand that, as the proverbial onion, layers are often unwound over time, over repeated listens, revealing soundscapes heretofore unheard. And lest one accuse the Finns of lulling us into some ambivalent complacency via subdued ramblings, ‘Hypnotisoitu Viharukous’ is – for the most part – claw and fang, rending emotion and eardrum in its sonic recollection of the brilliant-yet-overlooked 11 AS IN ADVERSARIES project of members of GLORIOR BELLI (think ‘Night Scalp Challenger’). After the disjointed catharsis of ‘Havuluu’, the calming-yet-persistent organ work found in ‘Valeavaruus’ is a welcome ending to Varahtelija, conjuring simultaneous images of returning travelers, or star-riders bound for a new home. 

 Don’t look at ORANSSI PAZUZU’s 4th as a collection of songs, and certainly don’t look at it as high concept. Hell, don’t even trust your ears on first listen, love it or hate it. I’m undecided after first listen, and that’s pretty, erm, high praise, considering the amount of layers left to unwind.