Part CATHEDRAL, part CANDLEMASS, and part REVEREND BIZARRE, Finland’s THE WANDERING MIDGET is drench, positively marinated, in the giants of Doom Metal. The problem with showing one’s influences so readily is that people like this reviewer (a.k.a. jackasses), or even the average listener, cannot help but compare the band to the ones that came before, and that is some mighty intimidating company to be in. Fortunately, Doom Metal has a long history of artists basically saying “fuck it man, let’s do it anyway,” and forging ahead with music that could have found an audience twenty years ago as easily as it does today. The same philosophy probably inspired the band’s rather unfortunate moniker, which more or less sounds like what you might hear if you asked a stoner to describe the plot of the movie "Willow".
With songs ranging in length from over eight to nearly fourteen minutes, THE WANDERING MIDGET could easily create stagnant, uninteresting music, especially considering the… antique nature of their sound. Thankfully, the band is smart enough to not let that happen. The most stark sonic contrast created within the same song comes in during “Family Curse,” when, during break in the unrepentant heaviness, the guitars begin chirping out what is basically circus music before diving full force back into the meaty riffs heard earlier. It may be a jarring change, but it works amid the just-for-fun feel that pervades over "The Serpent Coven".
Another welcome change occurs in “Bring Forth The Accused,” where, in an attention-grabbing solo dual, the bass guitar and six string attack each other in a frenetic jam that actually increases in vigor as it moves forward. That’s right, a song containing a “jam” and a bass solo is actually exciting! A revelation indeed.
Do the songs need to be as long as they are? Of course not. But that is part of the atmosphere of Doom like this; things are allowed to be excessive, even exaggerated, if done well enough. It’s part of what makes the music enjoyable. And here, Lords of Metal be praised, THE WANDERING MIDGET does things as well as can be expected. From the reverb-soaked vocals to the giant guitars to the proclamations of occult devastation, "The Serpent Coven" is pretty much everything you might expect out of a Doom album. Is that a mixed blessing? Sure, but it’s hard to fault a band that sounds like it’s having so much fun playing like its heroes. It’s just as hard to not join in.
(Online November 2, 2008)