ROTW: Kolme Toista!

Our obsession with all things Finnish continues unabated, with this, the most recent release, via Nuclear War Now!, from Finnish outsider death metal power trio Oksennus.

Over the course of close to five years, these demented death metal weirdos from Joensuu have a created a truly singular body of work, falling somewhere between the raw primitivism of classic first wave death metal, and the twisted audio imaginings of their most way-out Finnish brethren, metallic and otherwise.

We were immediately smitten by the band’s bizarre aesthetic, one that's somewhat of an anomaly in the world of metal, for sure. Their releases are always adorned with simple black ink line drawings on stark white backgrounds, the images rather un-metal and confusionally brilliant: some sort of eggbeater-shaped carrot / onion hybrid, three eyeball-carrots with lightning bolts coming out of the top, a fish barfing out their vomitous logo, a skull-tipped root vegetable mandala, a strange horned demon playing lightning bolt recorder with his third eye (below his two, center-of-the-forehead ears) and a barfing yogi sitting atop an extremely prickly version of the band’s logo. This was definitely one of those instances where we were already all in before hearing a single note of music.

This latest release from Oksennus consists of one 39 minute track, divided into three 13 minute 'movements.' The sound is definitely death metal, but a particularly virulent, caveman strain. The production is muddy and noisy, and the playing seemingly rudimentary, but locked into endlessly hypnotic, headbanging grooves, occasionally even blossoming into strangely psychedelic stretches of krauty hypnorock, the guitars weaving shimmering webs of unlikely melody beneath the endless motorik drum and bass churn. Similarities to fellow Finns Ride For Revenge are most definitely not lost on us. But where RFR is more pummeling and caustic, Oksennus seem more subterranean and tenebrous, and at times it's almost like there’s some weird experimental psych band buried beneath all of that death metal murk... But death metal they are, at their core, and they’ve got the deep, bellowed death grunts to prove it, drifting over the ever shifting metallic morass like ominous (and of course, strangely shaped) black clouds, except when they transform into garbled, anguished ramblings or hypnotic monk-like chants, even further subverting the very metal-ness of Oksennus’ damaged death metal explorations.

Also, if there was any doubt to the group’s “Finnish-ness” (although trust us, there’s not!), live photos seem to suggest that at least one member plays some sort of unicycle-guitar (?) and in one press photo, they are posed with a trumpet and some tiny hammers!

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