The weather actually felt like autumn for the first time this year. A pretty heavy rain had only recently stopped, leaving the sidewalks around the Philly club a mess of soaked, amber-colored leaves and soggy cigarette butts. The cold wind that whipped through the dark air made for the perfect climate and Underground Arts' dank basement the perfect setting for Polemicist's atmospheric black metal.

The Philly group played songs from their recently-released Zarathustrian Impressions debut. They performed without a bassist, though there was no shortage of rumbling low end with Jacob Nunn's drum-bludgeoning leading two guitarists - Josiah Domico and Lydia Giorano - through cascading sheets of riffs that were as fast as they were dynamic. They had to be - the band squeezed four epic songs into twenty-two frantic minutes.

There aren't many things that could have made the preceding shredding black metal seem sprightly, but Insect Ark is one of them. The duo doesn't embrace darkness; instead they let it embrace them. The difference is profound, especially from the Philadelphia stage, where they forced the crowd to also be inundated as the only constant light was from two small back lamps and flickering black and white nature arthouse films projected on the background.

There are no guitars, save for the pedal steel variety that Dana Schechter plays when she's not playing bass. It creates a vibe that is heavy yet delicate at the same time; at times the twang approximated a spaghetti western in space; a familiar sound in a decidedly unfamiliar place.

She commands attention even though she doesn't sing and is positioned somewhat in the background with relatively new drummer Andy Patterson closer to the front. He accedes attention with an unobtrusive cadence that could be the sound of a Goth army parade, a sturdy backbeat that allowed Schechter to operate around the periphery, creating some of the most enigmatic avant-drone around.

Contrary to the other bands on the bill, Oranssi Pazuzu is willing to operate in the light - quite literally so as they actually put a light technician to work. That person was tasked to switch on-and-off a few backlights to match the band's rhythmic expression. This may not sound like much but it helped heighten the tension in music that didn't lack for it to begin with. More fog than a dozen peat bogs also draped the stage, the combined effect being stark shadows that spread across and off the crowded stage.

Light was also evident sonically; synths created sounds like spaceships, the guitars lilted delicately and deliberately at least as often as they churned, and even when churning there was an otherworldly hue, the aural equivalent of rays of light breaking through an otherwise foreboding cloudscape.

The clanging guitars and throbbing percussion showcase the industrialized krautrock, artisanal post-punk by way of Joy Division, and plodding psychedelia chief among the many influences the Finnish band claims. This is not a huge shock, though for those witnessing Pazuzu's first North American foray, the most surprising things, in order, were:

1) How prominent the prog rock was, much more so than on albums, even newer ones that emphasize musicianship much more.

2) How far in the background the band's black metal inclinations seem when competing with an orchestra of other ideas. Juho Vanhanen's growl aside, it was just missing in action for the most part.

3) How little any of that matters when the jazz in their hands (and we may as well call it jazz) is still capable of placating the appetites of even the most resolute black metal fans. It was just that heavy.

Even though it was past midnight when Oranssi Pazuzu left the stage, the crowd - many whom have waited since the band's Muukalainen Puhuu debut a decade ago to bear witness to this - demanded an encore. And so they came out and finished, allowing one more seething wave of space rock that took the best parts of Helios Creed's skronk, Can's sense of adventure, with just enough of metallic hubris to show the path that led them to this place, this stage, this continent at long last.

It was worth the wait but if we don't have to wait so long for the next tour, even better.


Check out photos from the 10/16 Philly show -- by Kassandra Carmona -- in the gallery above, and photos and a review from the Chicago show at Invisible Oranges. (editor's note: After missing the at Psycho Vegas because they had to cancel due to visa issues, I managed to catch OP at the 10/15 NYC show at Le Poisson Rouge, and it was definitely one of the shows of the year!)


Oranssi Pazuzu's tour with Insect Ark continues through 10/27 in Seattle. Updated OP dates are listed below. Catch Insect Ark's Dana Schechter (who also joined OP for their encore at the NYC show) as a live member of Swans.

Meanwhile, OP made a big announcement right after the Philly show, that involves a new album, new label, Roadburn and more. Here it is in full:


Greetings from the US! We’re currently on the road with our first North American tour going smoothly, in large part thanks to our superb crew, Nanotear and the amazing Insect Ark.

Meanwhile, the new Oranssi Pazuzu album is currently being finalized and will be complete during the next few weeks. There will be a high dosage of psychedelic alchemy on this one. The new sonic realms feel simultaneously natural and fresh to us and we look forward to serving them to your hungry ears. We are also playing some of the new stuff on the ongoing North American shows.

While we have your attention, we’d also like to take this opportunity to announce new partnerships. First, we have signed a management pact with FlyingFox AB. We are thankful for receiving the mega-level advisory skills of Erin Lynch, who has already proven herself a worthy companion.

Secondly, we are psyched to announce that we have signed a recording deal with Nuclear Blast Records, who will be handling the worldwide release of the new album in 2020! Special thanks to Jens Prueter for understanding and respecting the band’s identity.

Thirdly, from now on, our show booking in Europe will be handled by Doomstar Bookings. If you want to book Oranssi Pazuzu, get in contact with Zoltan!

On top of all this, we are massively excited to announce that we will be doing a very special show at Roadburn Festival 2020, as part of James Kent’s (AKA Perturbator) curation. We are humbled to have been be asked once again to return to this great festival, in which we will play the new album in its entirety, live, for the first time prior to its release!

And in case you missed the news yesterday, we’re also confirmed for Inferno Festival in Oslo, Norway!

In the meantime, catch us at one of the North American shows that we are touring right now, or pick up a copy of the new Live at Roadburn album available here:…

Thanks for your support!

Oranssi Pazuzu -- 2019 Tour Dates
10/18/2019 Kings - Raleigh, NC (late show)
10/19/2019 529 - Atlanta, GA
10/21/2019 Barracuda - Austin, TX
10/23/2019 Club Red - Mesa, AZ
10/24/2019 Brick By Brick - San Diego, CA
10/25/2019 Cornerstone - Berkeley, CA
10/26/2019 Star Theater- Portland, OR
10/27/2019 Chop Suey - Seattle, WA

April 09-12,2020 Inferno Festival – Oslo, Norway
April 16-19, 2020 Roadburn Festival – Tilburg, The Netherlands


photos by Kassandra Carmona

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