Oranssi Pazuzu’s Mestarin Kynsi is the ultimate black metal headtrip

Cosmic black metal shamans Oranssi Pazuzu unleash a psychedelic maelstrom on new album Mestarin Kynsi

(Image: © Nuclear Blast)

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Building on the strengths of three progressively wilder albums, 2016 saw Finnish five-piece Oranssi Pazuzu notch a new high with Värähtelijä, a mind-warping excursion through the tattered fringes of psychedelic black metal. These shamanic Finns inhabit a world where the most extreme strains of modern metal splash violently alongside krautrock, acid house and even jazz. You could be forgiven for wondering what more their new album could possibly add to the mix?

The answer is: nothing. In fact, Mestarin Kynsi sees the band moving in the opposite direction – pulling back the dizzying scale of their assault for a feverish, 51-minute headtrip that unleashes a blinding psychedelic maelstrom that lacks neither the ambition nor the intensity of its predecessors.

Repetition is the backbone of psychedelic music; rhythmic or melodic patterns repeat over and over as new elements are gradually introduced. In this way, opener Ilmestys begins with a slow and unwinding progression of two jangly guitar notes, bent to the point of dissonance. The motif builds and repeats until, at the five-minute mark, a blasphemous siege of howls, power chords, cymbals and drums erupts and drives the song to its breathtaking end. Kuulen Ääniä Maan Alta is a wild, driving surge of electronica, gradually pulsating into a neck-snapping gauntlet of extremity before ceding to a droney haze of chilly atmospherics.

There’s an undeniable stripped-down quality to these six tracks; you can hear it in a clearer separation of instruments and dynamics. And it works exceedingly well. Not for the faint-hearted, Mestarin Kynsi is a thoroughly intense and captivating departure from this earthly realm. You might need a walk and a bit of sunshine when it’s over, if only to clear your head for your inevitable return.

Joe Daly

Hailing from San Diego, California, Joe Daly is an award-winning music journalist with over thirty years experience. Since 2010, Joe has been a regular contributor for Metal Hammer, penning cover features, news stories, album reviews and other content. Joe also writes for Classic Rock, Bass Player, Men’s Health and Outburn magazines. He has served as Music Editor for several online outlets and he has been a contributor for SPIN, the BBC and a frequent guest on several podcasts. When he’s not serenading his neighbours with black metal, Joe enjoys playing hockey, beating on his bass and fawning over his dogs.