Last year Oranssi Pazuzu released Värähtelijä, a record that deftly blurred the lines between black metal, prog and heavy psychedelia. It perfected what the Finnish band aimed for on 2013’s Valonielu, and it gave them the recognition they deserved as forward-thinking experimentalists in an increasingly saturated and safe metal world.
But the story of Oranssi Pazuzu didn’t begin with those records. Prior to that they released two full-lengths and a split, all of which have been years out of print. The band’s current label 20 Buck Spin is finally reissuing these missing links, providing a clear roadmap of Oranssi Pazuzu’s sonic explorations.
The lines between black metal and deep space are more clearly defined on the band’s 2009 debut Muukalainen Puhuu. The atmospherics are more horror flick than space odyssey on songs like “Suuri Pää Taivaasta” and “Dub Kuolleen Porton Muistolle.” “Myöehempien Aikojen Pyhien Teatterin Rukoilijasirkka” is full unhinged black metal, albeit more dynamic than that of many of the genre’s trad practitioners. The songs are more concise here as well—mere radio edits compared to the sprawling compositions that would come later. It’s evident where the collective heads of Oranssi Pazuzu are at on their solid debut: they were essentially a black metal band with an ear for Hawkwind and Amon Düül II. The pieces tightly fit together, yet the seams are still audible.
Oranssi Pazuzu’s move toward creating their own genre took a slight sidestep on their 2010 split with fellow Finnish avant-metal band Candy Cane, now released as a standalone EP called Farmakologinen. These four songs are less layered and more to the point than those on the debut. But while opener “Ole Muukalainen” sounds more like a traditional black metal song, it includes a groove-oriented section on the backend that pulls it from the murk with an iron fist.
Similar dynamics would surface again the following year on their second LP Kosmonument. The black metal elements remain the common thread, but surprises come in and out of the darkness, especially on “Kaaos Hallitisee,” which builds slowly and freefalls into the abyss for the final two minutes. “Luhistuva Aikahäkki” creeps along for most of its duration before ascending into one final Ministry-style dance into oblivion.
The components Oranssi Pazuzu bring to their music have always been intriguing, but far easier to trace on those early records. Still, it reveals a band that’s unafraid to move in atypical directions, even if it sometimes snapped the listener out of a moment.
Värähtelijä eventually became the result of those experiments, and transformed Oranssi Pazuzu into its own entity. Following the band’s course through these new reissues is fascinating and exhilarating. But it’s nowhere near the thrill of anticipation as to where they will take us next.