Eyes Like Snow )
The above quote from the Eyes Like Snow website is more than just a sales pitch for the new Wandering Midget album, it perfectly describes the majestic beauty of this incredible album from the Finnish doom band. It is hard to believe it has been 4 years since their last album but I put that down to their last album 'The Serpent Coven' being such a good timeless release. Even after all this time the album still sounds remarkably fresh. In the world of doom metal or to be exact, traditional doom metal, there are a few bands that can truly regard themselves as masters of the craft, Candlemass, Reverend Bizarre and Count Raven are three that qualify but now with this new album The Wandering Midget can also be placed in the hall of fame of trad-doom bands.
We don't usually do this on Doommantia but while making sure we get info right for this release and band, we stumbled upon a Doom Metal.Com review for the album (the only other review for the album that we know of) and the writer draws parallels between Reverend Bizarre and The Wandering Midget. We think this is rather profound as Reverend Bizarre and The Wounded Kings might just be the last important traditional doom bands to emerge onto the scene, that was till this wonderful band came along. If 'The Serpent Coven' was the sound of the band treading carefully but still nailing the style, 'From The Meadows Of Opium Dreams' is the sound of a band with a point to prove and that point is that they are serious contenders for the traditional doom metal crown. In short - this album is a progression from the last and it rules.
While it is true that The Wandering Midget are not doing anything new, it is the way they are doing it that makes this such a captivating doomed experience. The band change directions just when it's needed but none of the changes can be regarded as predictable. The changes that happen are essential considering the epic nature of the albums pieces. Apart from the opener 'Price Of Fire' all the songs are 12 to 20 minutes long and it has been a while since we have come across an album that makes such long songs such an easy listening experience. The Wandering Midget are the ultimate merging of old school trad doom and modern trad doom. Sounding neither like an old band or a modern band exactly, The Wandering Midget have found their niche in a genre that is currently running low on freshness.
The music here is monolithic, slightly progressive, psychedelic and funeralized at times while very infectious at other times. Songs switch, move, twist and turn to such a degree that even the 20 minute 'Temples in the Sky' seems like a short and concise piece of exquisite songwriting. The excellent songwriting and arrangement is really where the band excels; putting together 4 songs that define doom metal in all its glory. 'Prince Of Fire' kicks off the album with monster riffs and a captivating atmosphere but rather than setting the mood for the rest of the album, it just hints at what is to come for the next 50 minutes or so and lets face it, most doom albums you can judge in the first 5 minutes but this is an album that keeps you guessing right up to the dying seconds.
'Prince Of Fire' is the albums most "headbanging" tune, the perfect opening track for this album and also for live performances. The riffing is based around the generic blueprint created by the fathers of doom (Sabbath, Trouble, Candlemass et al) but to the bands credit they make it sound new and that is something very few bands can do at the best of times. The albums longest track 'Temples In The Sky' follows in mesmerizing fashion, conjuring up images of occultism, rituals and nightmares and the way the track rolls is nothing short of hypnotic. The track starts with a rather long intro (maybe too long) and then builds into a gripping hellride, twisting, turning and going through various moods and musical textures. At times it verges on funeral doom, at other times it is a swirling psychedelic-doom masterpiece. The musicianship is excellent but this is one of the those rare times where the songs themselves are what totally grab 100% of the listener's attention.
'She-Wolf' is 12 minutes of dark, menacing, ominous doom. Again it is all sounds so damn fresh, it is like they are the ones that invented the genre in the first place. While every riff has been played a million times before, they take those riffs, give them a dose of much-needed personality and viola.....you get something totally out of this world. 'She-Wolf' is what I think I should call doom metal erotica for the want of a better term. This moody piece is total doom but it is also so damn sexy. Then the band pull off the impossible, they finish off the album with another epic masterpiece with 'Follow the Forest Lights.' Now it has been 4 years between albums so they did have time to get things just right but even with that in mind, this goes far beyond what any doom fan would expect.
In 55 minutes 'The Wandering Midget' deliver one of the most captivating doom albums released in recent years with 'From The Meadows Of Opium Dreams.' Superior songwriting, top-notch production, great musicianship and cool artwork is what you get but you also get what might be the best doom album released in 2012. If you take it in small sections, the songs are great enough but considering how epic these songs are, it just makes this an even more of a remarkable release.....10/10.
Words: Sally, Doomm@niac - ( Review dedicated to our guru, master and inspiration, Ed Barnard - We Love You. )
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