Black metal has come a long, long way since the bullet belts and corpse paint of the early 90’s. Sure there are still a ton of bands that carry the flag of “true” or “kvlt” black metal. There are also bands that are taking the genre and stretching it like a rubber band to see how far they can go before it snaps. Unlike eating a Reese Peanut Butter Cup there in fact are wrong ways to do black metal. The ‘wrong’ way is to simply not remain true to your artistic vision and bend to the will of what people around you think black metal should be versus what it can be. Finland’s Oranssi Pazuzu happens to be one of those bands that’s waiting for the rubber band to snap. They are getting mischievously close.
Experimentation in black metal is nothing new. Darkthrone has been doing it for years. So has Satyricon. Bands like Dodheimsgard, Wolves In The Throne Room, Krallice and Deathspell Omega have made careers out of taking black metal to the outer limits. Even bands like Wodensthrone and Winterfylleth, who play fairly traditional styles of black metal, are able to expand the genre’s horizons with their take on what the second wave masters were accomplishing. But so few bands have been able to accomplish what Orannsi Pazuzu has on their newest album, Velonielu, and that’s to almost redefine how we look at the black metal genre as a whole.
Big words, that last statement, for sure. It’s not some stab at being hyperbolic though. The truth of the matter is that during great expanses of this album, such as the instrumental track “Reikä Maisemassa”, the listener has diverted almost completely off the black metal path and into some sort of patch of the metal forest more closely resembling the place where bands like Neurosis dwell. Psych rock, stoner rock, doom, etc. They are all present at certain points. It’s a dark and desolate chunk of musical wilderness this band is leading you through but you somehow always find your way back to the blackened path where you started. It’s almost like hiking across familiar terrain on a moonless night where you are never truly lost but the darkness never lets you really know where you are either. This record is equal parts disturbing and enlightening at times, a black metal version of transcendental meditation if you will.
Velonielu will not be for everyone. Purists will most likely denounce it for not staying “true” enough. Others will find the layers upon layers of each track hard to digest. The vastness of this album is not easily swallowed whole. But both groups will be missing out, cutting off their musical noses to spite their faces. Let them. For those brave enough, Velonielu hits the streets in the U.S. via 20 Buck Spin on October 15. You can get a taste of the new album now over at Oranssi Pazuzu’s official website.