Surreal Encounters: WASTE OF SPACE ORCHESTRA - Syntheosis Review

The worlds of psychedelic and sludge metal coalesce to create a cosmic concept album.

Photo by Maija Lahtinen

In the summer of 2018, ORANSSI PAZUZU and DARK BUDDHA RISING momentarily put their respective groups into suspended animation. The result was the immediate combination of two surprisingly different acts, one bringing the darkest of psychedelic black metal; the other, a sludge-based doom metal outfit. Last spring, the ten Finnish rockers brought to the studio the hope for a journey into the fabric of space and time. Their efforts were rewarded with a composition of depth and vision that has seldom been matched by their peers: a science fiction concept album, aptly named, Syntheosis.


From the start, it's clear that listeners are in for something out of this world. A celestial symphony warms up, placing their audience in an orchestra box that showcases their various talents in wide format. Coming in at just over five minutes, the introductory track, Void Monolith, is much like the heralding rectangular idol from Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey. It's ominous, exciting, and slightly unnerving.


Taken away into the far reaches of space, the first of three voices make their appearance. The Shamanic Vision is a tribal, futuristic ride into a nine part story about three figures in their eternal search for forbidden knowledge. Urging and frantic, the Shaman, voiced by Vesa Ajomo, warns of a not so distant future that leaves mankind in the bleak pits of a self-inflicted apocalypse. With soaring sound and the ambient traction of a tunnel through hyperspace, it's a perfect glimpse into the full scope of the project.


Seeker's Reflection, the next voice in the quest for unknown truth, makes phenomenal use of Juho Vanhanen, who belts sickeningly throughout the passage in a digitized, muffled pattern that calls back to a sound not unlike MORBID ANGEL's Where the Slime Live.


Journey to the Center of Mass and Wake up the Possessor dabble in precisely the kind of innovative, progressive sound that ORANSSI PAZUZU is known for. Even if listeners didn't know the origins of the group, a safe assumption could be made for the sound signature alone, as its unique and unpredictable approach to songwriting makes for a score worthy of not just the finest space rock, but a space opera on the big screen. This is the meat and potatoes of the album. When people go looking for the inspiration behind such a creation, they'll find the marrow of all unfiltered creativity buried deep into these unorthodox hybrid tracks — the unleashed power of a hypnotic lick with the bounce of a well-loved hi-hat kicking away graciously throughout a haunting female vocal segment, all to the tune of an endless reverb loop.


The heaviest content lays dormant until the end, coming with full force for the dynamic conclusion of the tale, the self-titled track. Built up for well over an hour, the tale of the possessor's trickery, voiced by Marko Neuman, is brought to its dramatic conclusion in what appears to be end of all things. Deceived into opening a rift to a terrifying netherverse, the Shaman, the Seeker, and the Possessor are dragged through into a hellish dimension where color storms rage and audio violence beat at them until they are left with but one option: merge their minds into a collective consciousness. Musically, the finale is a slow cascade of competing motions, some harsh, and others subdued, reaching a deadly plateau at seven and a half minutes, where the safety net, the floor, and the reality of metal you thought you knew is stripped away, revealing the raw power of a neutron star, the prime directive of the WASTE OF SPACE ORCHESTRA, to forever raise the bar for space rock, psych metal, and sludge, all at the same time. It's something meant to be experienced, to shake the foundations of what most metalheads presume to be the most heavy thing they've ever heard. Syntheosis is a beast that much like any good horror or monster film, slinks back into the void from whence it came.


There are few albums that can claim to cross a genre divide as well as this one. For what they sought out to accomplish, the ten guys from DARK BUDDHA RISING and ORANSSI PAZUZU have drawn new latitudes on a map that had seemingly erased all of its monsters. From where this humble reviewer stands, it seems clear that they were playing the long-con with this release, knowing all the while that there was an untapped vein in the dark corners of the metalverse. There's nothing quite like it, and listeners everywhere would be lucky to see the WASTE OF SPACE ORCHESTRA land on their astral plane to blow them away with a close encounter from the cosmic choir themselves.


Overall score: 9.5/10

FFO: Oranssi Pazuzu, Dark Buddha Rising, Virus, Mad God, Electric Wizard, Hail Spirit Noir


Syntheosis is out now via Svart Records, and you can grab your copy HERE.


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