Oranssi Pazuzu – Värähtelijä ALBUM REVIEW

The easy way to review this would be to just say it’s too long and a bit boring. In the midst of massive amounts of schoolwork and life issues, that would be something I would love to do. But, I already haven’t done a review in a few days, and the last two weren’t even really solid reviews anyway. So I might as well give this thing a full go.

Yes, overall Värähtelijä is a bit too long, and a bit boring at times. But the issue is much more complex than that, because there are plenty of amazing moments in this album, and despite my so far superficial criticisms, I liked this album. I was immediately drawn in by the hypnotizing riffs that felt like a clock swaying back and forth across my eyes, drifting me into a state of unconsciousness. Then the keyboard organ flew into my sight, caressing my ears with a psychedelic flair. I felt like I was in some sort of 60s satanic ritual, perhaps part of one of Levay’s if he gave everyone acid. The atmosphere was incredible, however at this point I started to get a bit TOO mesmerized. To but bluntly, I was annoyed. Annoyed that that damn riff kept playing in the background. And here is where I came upon the main problem of this album. It’s just so damn monotonous.

Oranssi Pazuzu has a lot of great ideas here. Every track is based around an idea that on it’s own, could spawn a billion different variations, twists, and turns. However the only track that ever really goes into that is the 5th track, Vasemman käden hierarkia, and that’s because A. It’s the longest track in the album by far, clocking in at 17+ minutes, and B. it’s basically split into two separate sections, meaning there’s two real ideas going on here. The major problem with every track on Värähtelijä is that they ARE only based on one real idea, and never really change in timbre at all. I get that songs need a backbone, something to base all of the other ideas off of. But you can’t just go totally off backbone alone. If you’re going to make tracks that are this long, you need variety, simple as that. And while there certainly is a variety of different instruments and quirks, there color of the song stays consistent throughout the entire length of the track. It’s like how you can’t win a baseball game without getting past first base. You need to touch the other bases, then come home.

In related sports metaphors, you also can’t win a football without reaching the endzone, which every track on the album fails to do. There never is a conclusion to any of the tracks, or any kind of finality at all in this album. There’s always so much buildup that never goes anywhere, or ever reaches a climax, with the exception of on the middle of 5th track. Now you can argue that that’s intentional, forcing the listener to feel uneasy and unsafe. That’s fair, because this album absolutely succeeds in doing so. But it also leaves me feeling unsatisfied and at times, very annoyed. In particular, on the 6th track, Havuluu, there was a riff that is just incredulously repeated over and over and over again. It’s clearly an intentional act meant to cause this previously stated sense of uneasiness. But people have feelings and limitations, so no matter how much artistic merit something has, if I don’t want to hear it, it’s not going to work on me. I actually go so turned off by that track that the final song basically just went right over my head. Part of that was that I had already been listening to this for an hour, and the other was that the final track isn’t that memorable in the first place. It felt so damn neutral, like I was trapped in purgatory, without any of the horror that entails.

Now despite me taking a big old shit on this album, I’m actually going to give this a recommended seal. Because I can complain and nitpick like a douchebag all I want, it will never change that at its core, this album sounds really cool. Like, REALLY fucking cool. I can honestly say I’ve never heard any album remotely similar to this in terms of style and sound. While that alone isn’t a reason to love something, I feel like despite its flaws, Oranssi executes this unique blend of seemingly unrelated genres well enough to earn my overall enjoyment in listening.

As a story, Värähtelijä preforms poorly, reading like a dadaist novel made by someone who doesn’t actually know what dadaism is. There’s no real plotline, no real structure, and no real ending at all. It’s more like strange words on a page that seem to make sense together, but don’t form anything coherent as a whole. On top of that it seems like every chapter seems to repeat one word in particular way more than any of the other words for no real describable reason, other than to force a main theme. The story ends with a sentence that seems to belong in the middle of the book, leaving the reader confused and unsure of what they just read.

But as a soundtrack to a spooky underground art film, destined to be circulated throughout the gallows of the internet until it’s ultimately ruined my memes? I’d be down for that.


Havukruunu – Havulinna ALBUM REVIEW

Liturgy take notes. THIS is how you do triumphant black metal. Because it’s not just the chords you play, it’s how you play them. Sure, Havukruunu is not the first band ever to utilize major chords in black metal. And they’re certainly not the first pagan black metal band to make an album that feels like an epic journey. But they are one of the few to do both of these things right, in my eyes (or rather, ears). Instead of simply using orchestral synths, or vocals that sound more like norse chants to create the whole “epic viking” scene, they use what would be considered epic in the traditional metal sense. Solos. Heavy fucking metal solos. It took me way off guard, but god damn does it work. I debated with myself as to whether the fuzzy, atmo black atmosphere actually works well with the clean, guitar shredding runs. I don’t think there is a true yes or no answer to that, but I do know that it doesn’t not work, which is good enough for what this album is.

While I do again get that sense of epic adventure when listening to this, overall I do feel that as a whole the atmosphere is a tad underwhelming. Maybe this goes back to whether or not the fuzzy production works with the clean solos. The epic guitar shreds create a large atmosphere, while the distorted tremolos as a backdrop create something more small and homily. I like to imagine that the bands who create metal albums are not actually humans, but rather creatures from different realms. I see heavy metal bands as like gods from a realm of adventure and danger, having bodies like that of greek gods, wearing denim jackets, singing about their exploits. Atmospheric Black Metal bands are actually from earth, though they are misanthropic, ugly creatures who dwell in caves and dark forests. Power metal of course comes from a land where everything is made entirely of cheese, though that’s for another album review. Anyway, seeing these two images coincide with each other is rather striking, maybe for me more than another. It creates a bit of confusion as to whether I really love this, or just like this. I think for now I’ll go somewhere inbetween. Havulinna is a unique record that does a lot of things that many fail at right, though in a way of which I probably can’t fully appreciate.


Abyssal – Antikatastaseis ALBUM REVIEW

This has been heavily hyped and spammed on my corners of the internet, which is probably why I put this off for so long. Generally if an album is talked about as being the greatest thing since sliced bread, and it’s posted over and over and over again until you get tired of it, that’s generally an album you want to avoid in my experience. But I went ahead and listened to this anyway in my attempt to catch up on this years releases, and I must say I’m relatively pleased. Abyssal does a great job of buildup and creating tension. The drum intro to The Cornucopian gave me goosebumps of the scared kind and perfectly setup what came after it. That’s a unique aspect of this album. Lots of albums are good at creating tension and buildup, but more often than not the setup doesn’t actually compliment what comes afterward. They can individually sound great, but together they don’t necessarily fit, or feel like a logical step. Every setup to the knockout punch feels natural and logical, which is a great strength about this album. Unfortunately, this is done in a clear pattern that goes along the lines of *uuuuuuuuuu with fuzzy noises**ambient section* and repeat. It sounds more like a bunch of individual ideas rather than flowing together. While not all albums have to be a coherent string of evolving tracks, I feel like variety in the way they went about these ideas would’ve greatly helped. What I will give Abyssal credit for is by having variety of different ways to use that pattern, be it the building drum intro I mentioned before, or the setup on the last track. The final track Delere auctorem rerum ut universum infinitum noscas (is it really too hard for this band not to make every title word vomit?) is built up by basically just noise getting louder and louder. Sounds pretty simple, but it’s simplicity is what makes it so unnerving. It’s so impersonal, so unnatural, not like something someone would consciously create. And the craziest thing about it is what follows, which is tonality of all things! Cavernous dissonance is what you previously think is everything to do with this album. But then you get thrown a very well deserved bone at the very end and you get to hear something most people feel like they should hear anytime they listen to music, which is tonal harmony. I really feel without that this would’ve been a tiring experience not worth listening to. Antikatastaseis still has that issue even without the one bit of tonal music. It feels like for the most part it’s a one trick pony, and while that is a good trick, you can only watch it do that trick so many times before you want to move on to the next trick, no matter how many variations of that trick they do.


Guardians of Time – Rage and Fire ALBUM REVIEW

In theory, power metal should be a genre that is relatively easy to get right. You take popular chord progressions, some heavy metal riffage, some cheesy but fun lyrics, and then just a touch of the ridiculous and over-dramatic, and you got a good power metal album. However in practice, it’s one of the most botched genres in metal, mostly due to the continuous addition of outside influences like symphonics, progressive elements, and just about anything else you could think of without thinking too hard. And the problem isn’t that these influences are added that’s the problem, it’s that they are often fucked up harder than Charlie Sheen at… well, pretty much any moment in his entire life. The most common mistake comes from the erroneous belief that it is ever ok to directly input sibelius midis in any professional album, but this is by no means even close to the source of every generic power metal band fuck up. I say all this because I’m going to admit that I am giving this album a higher score than it deserves, simply because it managed not to fuck up. Sort of like how a 5/10 women becomes a 9/10 women in the gaming world, since there are so few good power metal albums, the ones that are good, or at least not bad, have their score increased due to how they compare to the rest of their brethren. Power metal inflation, if you will. What isn’t inflated about this album however, is that has some pretty dang good solo and riff work. If cheap symphonics are the most common power metal mistake, than power metal that doesn’t focus are anything melodic is the second, and Rage and Fire absolutely avoids this. While none of them are going to be solos that you’ll remember for weeks to come, they are all very enjoyable at first listen, and still enjoyable multiple listens afterward. This fact came as a very pleasant surprise, as I had low expectations to the start of an album whose intro sounded like the intro music of a marvel super hero movie. While in the beginning I felt as if every track was different, after about track 4 I started to realize that the difference between each one was generally quite small. Enough to be significant to notice, but not large enough to engross me in the album. I feel like the majority of the tracks sort of blend together, until each solo and major riff comes up, which as I mentioned before, is definitely the strong point of this album. There are brief moments of uniqueness that perked up my ears, such as the bluesy outro riff to Tomorrow Never Comes, but generally I just kept waiting for that solo. This isn’t to say that anything in-between the solos and riffs is bad, just nothing particularly worth mentioning. While the title track is certainly what Guardians of Time aimed at being the pinnacle of the album, I feel as though Core, the track before that, is the superior song. While they both feel like emotional and epic ballads, Rage and Fire drags on a bit too long. I feel as if the last minute of that track is sort of like the band wanted to finish, but realized that they still had a minute left in the song time. Despite my comment about power metal inflation, this is a fine album, and certainly one of the top power metal albums of the year. One of the few power metal albums this year that I would recommend to someone who is not necessarily a fan of the genre.


Norilsk – The Idea of North ALBUM REVIEW

This is instrumentally a great album, which gets better and more interesting as the album progresses. The only thing really holding this back is the fact that the first few tracks have serious problems with vocals in that they’re way too whispered and soft, especially for death metal vocals. The title track is legitimately great.


Melechesh – Enki ALBUM REVIEW

A truly unique album in that it manages to make arabic inspired metal without it being too corny or phony. Unfortunately, it’s pretty standard aside from that. I did love the arabic folk music track that didn’t actually contain any metal in it at all, that was a nice break. I just wish there could’ve been something more, to say a word I really shouldn’t say, “epic” about the album to make me like it more, because the concept was really great.