Oranssi Pazuzu Credit: Rainer Paananen

In the context of black metal, the term “cosmic” has been diluted into worthlessness. When I applied it to Oranssi Pazuzu in 2013, I still thought it referred to an identifiable flavor of evil psychedelia, but now it just means “the guitarist has the correct effects pedals”—the same way “jazzy” means “a saxophone is involved” and “operatic” means “somebody took voice lessons.” So I propose calling the music of these Finnish xenonauts something more specific: wormhole black metal. Cofounded in 2007 by guitarist and vocalist Jun-His (aka Juho Vanhanen, former front man of surrealist rock band Kuolleet Intiaanit), Oranssi Pazuzu plunge you into a tunnel of fatally deformed spacetime, bathe you in a sizzling cocktail of exotic radiation, and spit you out somewhere cold, dark, alien, and very, very far away. Their hypnotizing riffs, eccentric cycles of accents, and bizarre harmonic tensions bear surface similarities to other avant-garde black metal, but Oranssi Pazuzu cover a vastly broader spectrum of frequencies and textures. Guitars and electronics grind, simmer, hum, sweep, pulse, twang, and twinkle, conjuring a universe of domed asteroidal colonies bristling with obelisks, of sentient plasma clouds that hollow out planets, of ancient and malevolent emperors who speak through wires drilled into their frozen brains. Too often, the nihilism of black metal displays a poverty of imagination, leaning on worn-out blasphemies against an equally boring divinity, but Oranssi Pazuzu juice up their interstellar incantations with the campy lunacy of gonzo science fiction—they invent apocalypses that nobody has a name for yet. Earlier this year, the band collaborated with Finnish drone-doom outfit Dark Buddha Rising on the album Syntheosis (Svart), billed to the Waste of Space Orchestra, but they haven’t released a full-length of their own since 2016’s Värähtelijä (20 Buck Spin). Oranssi Pazuzu started posting studio updates in August, though, so album number five should arrive soon—and their first U.S. tour, which kicks off with their Chicago debut, will definitely include new material. Let’s leave “cosmic” to bowling alleys—I know some tentacled space vampires you need to meet.  v