Photo by Pauliina Lindell
Interview with bassist Ontto | By Ridge Briel
Combining psychedelia with the mysticism of black metal seems like a good fit, yet it’s extremely rare to see bands embrace both concepts. Finland’s Oranssi Pazuzu are the exception. “We weren’t metal musicians to start with,” bassist Ontto says. “There’s actually been a lot of cosmic themes and hypnotic stuff in more traditional black metal, starting from Burzum—at least, to me, it sounds like that. We’re also into space rock and psych stuff, so we wanted to include parts from all the worlds that felt inspiring to us.”
For their new album, Värähtelijä – which means “resonator,” and is available now through 20 Buck Spin and Svart Records – they tapped famed producer Julius Mauranen, best known for his work with opera musician Vesa-Matti Loiri. This may seem like an odd choice. “I can see why that might sound weird,” comments Ontto. “He was surprised when we first asked him since he hadn’t done metal bands in his career. But when we talked more about what we wanted it to sound like, we found out we had a good mutual understanding about it.”
When asked what sets the new album apart from the others, Ontto replies, “It’s the logical next step after [2013’s] Valonielu. In a way, it’s in the same vein, but Värähtelijä is more prog, more moody, more occult, and space rock oriented. I think it stands out as the most hypnotic album we’ve done.” In July, Oranssi Pazuzu announced that the album would have eight songs, yet the final product only has seven. “The eighth song was a long and mellow ambient track that we recorded, but we sliced it up in the mix and dropped parts of it in the album,” Ontto clarifies.
“The songs come together with a lot of jamming, so it’s not that hard to translate that into a live setting,” Ontto says of their live show. “We do have one problem, though: our space guitar maestro, Moit, isn’t able to tour due to family commitments, so live he will be replaced by Niko Lehdontie from Domovoyd and Kairon. Luckily, Niko’s one hell of a guitar wizard. Also, we have our secret weapon, [keyboardist and percussionist] EviL with his sound altar ‘Mohlo.’”