Wednesday, 6 September 2017

The Wandering Midget – From the Meadows of Opium Dreams (2012) / 93%

The contender to the Finnish trad doom throne

In light of the new split between The Wandering Midget and the Hands of Orlac, I’ve decided that it was time to finally review this grandiose album.

Let’s start with the obvious elephant in the room: One cannot talk about The Wandering Midget without mentioning the late Reverend Bizarre so I’ll get it out of my system in the first paragraph. Samuli Pesonen’s vocals share an uncanny similarity to the ones of Albert Witchfinder but they’re perhaps not as hyperbolic in their intonations. What you get is still highly evocative and theatrical quasi operatic vocals and it works wonderfully well with the musicality of the Finnish power trio.

The main strength of the LP resides in its extended compositions and how well they’re written. It sure is trendy to write long songs in doom but most bands can’t do it correctly (most of doom/stoner, per instance) but the Midget knows how to keep things interesting and succeed at changing the tempos without breaking their psychedelic atmosphere. From the Meadows… starts with “Prince of Fire”, a five minutes banger before unleashing three monsters of doom. From the epic twenty minutes of “Temples in the Sky” and its mournful first half to the groovy rifftastic fest of “She-Wolf”, it’s a monumental testament on how trad doom can be both fun and intricate.

The Midget relies on heavy riffs, melodic lead guitar lines and a solid and subtle rhythm duo. Pesonen (or Samuel Wormius) is the obvious star of the Opium Dreams with his guitar playing and his immense vocal performance but his companions delivered a captivating performance too. They’re able to transcend some of the conventions of the genre by inflicting some deep introspective moments in their songs. They’re the type of bands that can rock hard but also know when to slow down and just make their emotional baggage talk.

Pushing Cardinals Folly, Garden of Worm or Serpent Warning (Pesonen used to sing for ‘em) to the sidelines, The Wandering Midget are the definite contenders to the Throne of Finnish Doom Metal. This is a masterpiece.

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