Friday, 2 November 2012

The Wandering Midget - From the Meadows of Opium Dreams (album review)

There's something very distinctive about Finnish doom bands that I can barely articulate, there's an aurally organic quality to them.  What would you call it?  Earthy, wooden, oaken, bark-y?  I don't know, but there's something heavy to the vibe that goes way beyond what the instruments are pumping out.  It's weighty and resonant and reminds me of a massive old growth tree, full of wisdom and unspoken secrets.  It`s heavy the way your drunk dad wanted to have a chat with you as soon as you stumbled through the door on Friday night, you understand?  It's some serious music, sobering even.

This isn't some tongue-in-cheek, weekend fun doom album, this is the real thing.  The Wandering Midget appear to take their jobs very seriously as doomsters and to great effect.  The tones of this album are somber and mournful with a hint of wonderment and it absolutely radiates those elements.  It's a drugged trip through a dark forest and you don't know if the gnomes want to help you or eat you until you get to the end of the trail, but until then you got to trust them.

I've never been a big fan of long songs, unless the structure is suitably expansive to match the length and keep my attention.  Longer songs don't necessarily warrant repeated plays for some reason, I assume it's because if they're not that interesting, then it's too long, you skip it, and if the song is great, the length makes a single listen more satisfying so you don't have to keep going back.  Songs like "Echoes" for example have been the exception rather than the norm.  This album is full of exceptions.  I never thought I'd be drawn back so often to songs 20, 12 and 17 minutes long all in a row, all in one sitting, but I am.  They are songs that don't get boring or drawn out or lose focus half way through.  It's slow, big and epic without being lumbering, plodding or tedious.  These are songs to revisit.  There are plenty of dynamics to chew on and that is a welcome element of structure, but it's the high quality of the riffs brings me back.  The last five minutes or so of "Follow the Forest Lights", exemplifies everything I've been trying to get across about this album.  It's a passage of music that just leaves me speechless.  The performance, the recording, the riff, the lyrics, the solo, the dynamics, everything, it's just ... wow.

This was one of my most highly anticipated albums of the year and it delivered in an epic way.

Highlights include: "Prince of Fire" and "Follow the Forest Lights"

Rating: 5/5

From: Lappeenranta, Finland

Genre: Traditional Doom Metal, Epic Doom Metal

Reminds me of: Black Sabbath, Candlemass, Grave Siesta

Release Date: November 30, 2012

Suggested listening activity for fellow non-stoners: Finding your way out of the forest, avoiding gnomes at all costs.

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