Splits are great ways to expand your musical repertoire when familiar with one of the bands collaborating. A level of mutual respect is presumed between the two: surely a favored artist will have good tastes themselves? And surely the twinned groups will offer something similar but sufficiently distanced for a neatly conjoined listening experience? Such conclusions seem logical. I wish I could claim previous enjoyment of either Sweden’s Hands of Orlac or Finland’s The Wandering Midget. Alas, I partook in that ancient AMG tradition of selecting promo purely based on names. The Wandering Midget you say? Hands of Orlac like that old silent horror film? Fuck yeah! My obligatory research yielded that both have 2 full-lengths under their belts so now is a good time for the inter-mingling of their sounds.

Orlac is the slower, weirder, more psychedelic slice of doom on offer. The band is enigmatically fronted by ‘The Sorceress,’ who recalls to me the sultry, earthen tones of Sophie Day (Alunah). Her flute adorns selected passages while the tripped-out vibe sought is evident in such moments as the mid-song solo on “From Below the Stars.” A decidedly 60s and 70s feel drapes over the riffs which is certainly tone-appropriate. By contrast, Midget draws more influence from classic metal from the 80s and the epic flavors favored by the likes of Atlantean Kodex. The lengthy grandiosity of “Where We March the Vultures Follow” is the split’s best track as it boasts a few soaring harmonies and groovy riffs, best demonstrating this sound.

The structure of the release largely focuses on the mammoth bookending tracks, spanning over 13 and 18 minutes respectively, with the opener (“Curse of the Human Skull”) undertaken by Orlac and the closer (“Where We March the Vultures Follow”) by Midget. Dividing these are 2 interludes and a shorter middle track, all courtesy of Orlac. Perhaps it’s my constrictive tidiness but I appreciate this near-perfect symmetry on a split release. It’s also apparent why such a pairing was initiated as despite their differences, both bands most heavily feature mid-paced doom.

The principle issue arises from the prevalence of Orlac‘s material. “Curse of the Human Skull” is the quintessential case study as to why songs exceeding 8 minutes are mostly terrible. The problems of a dull, short track are exacerbated by sheer duration and repetition, ensuring you’re disengaged by the third minute, pointedly bored by the eighth and actively annoyed by the thirteenth. The interludes, “Per Aspera” and “Ad Astra,” further waste more minutes as they pointlessly and dejectedly meander their way through organ and synth melodies. They scarcely do enough to even notify that the surrounding stoner doom had paused which entirely defeats the purpose of such interludes. I should add that “From Below the Stars” at the split’s mid-point is stronger, with a jaunty leading riff and an excellent psychedelic solo. But these are, at best, isolated moments in a sea of mediocrity; at worst, utterly ineffectual against the tide of boredom and frustration.

There’s certainly better things to be said about Midget‘s 18 minutes but taken as a whole, this split features a lot more bad than good. I’m not incentivized to further investigate either band, even with their excellent names, and I thoroughly recommend that you do not do so either. Yawn.


Rating: 1.5/5.0
DR: 11 | Format Reviewed: 256 kbps MP3
Label: Cruz del Sur Music
Websites: thewanderingmidget.bandcamp.com | www.facebook.com/thewanderingmidget | handsoforlac.bandcamp.com
Releases worldwide: September 8th, 2017

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  • hallowed

    Incidentally, my ex-wife called a part of my body The Wandering Midget.

    • welyyt

      You know what they say about guys with big hands of Orlac…

    • Mollusc

      Did she give it back?

    • Thatguy

      I looked at the review and turned to the comments. I knew I would see a version of this joke and I was not disappointed.

      Thank you.

  • Yolo Swaggins

    We are paying in September for the wondrous albums we had in August.

    • Absolomb

      There was so much great material in August that I won’t be on September until they release September’s RoTM next year.

  • dduuurrrr dddduuuurrrr

    Why is “Midget” in their logo mirror vertically reversed? That could be one of the most frustrating to read logos I’ve ever seen.

    • Gibbers

      You meant to say”upside down” I’m sure

      • John Mosley

        It isn’t merely upside down. A mirror image

        • dduuurrrr dddduuuurrrr

          Correct, upside down implies a rotation, I.E.: it would still be readable if you turned it upside down. This requires a mirror.

    • Tofu muncher

      I know right? So instead of seeing one what at first to me looked like (.)(.), I saw two (.)(.)

  • Planex

    so
    much
    doom
    metal

  • John Mosley

    Not all midgets who wander are lost.

    • Jon Hartley

      #notallmidgets

  • Master of Muppets

    While we’re on the subject of splits, this seems as good a place as any to point out how awesome the Ancst/King Apathy split is.
    The Ancst/King Apathy split is awesome.

    • Name’s Dalton

      The split by Howls of Ebb / Khthoniik Cerviiks is awesome.

      • Master of Muppets

        Right? I’ve had it on my wishlist for a minute, but there’s just so much good stuff out there. I think the coolest crazy-heavy shit I’m playing these days is Sinmara, who sound nothing like the aforementioned bands but are absolutely fucking awesome.

  • Sawyer Fh

    Wait a minute I really like this

  • Danny

    If only they reversed the band names they could be The Wandering Midget Hands of Orlac, the grand tale of Orlac and his tiny, grabby hands.

    • WhamBamSam

      Too political for many listeners, I’d wager.

      • Danny

        It indeed would remind listeners of a famous political figure……………… namely Vladimir Lenin, who used the tiny hands of the Proletariat to grab power from the Bourgeoisie.

  • wrathzombie

    Sorry, off topic. Are you guys reviewing Galaktikon 2. I love it but would like to hear what you guys have to say?

  • Master of Muppets

    Putting it lightly, listening ostensibly requires imagination and nerve. Personally, I’ll likely let ‘Orlac redeem its awesome name, perhaps in later listens on reexamination it’ll astound… nah. Pass, it looks like only rejection is an option, now.

    • Master of Muppets

      Or, for those of you who are not insane:
      “Don’t bother with this, listen to PILLORIAN instead.”

  • Matt slatz

    That skull is saying “w.t.f. I thought I was here for the new mercyful fate cover shoot”

  • DIMENSIONAL BLEEDTHROUGH

    Too bad, I’m a big fan of The Wandering Midget’s previous stuff.